ISLAMABAD  -   The special audit report on COMSATS University’s dual degree program observed above Rs530milion irregularities in the financial management of the program and recommended a thorough inquiry to fix the responsibility. The special audit report released also declared the approval of the dual degree program in violation of rules of Boards of Governors of COMSATS. Comsats Institute of Technology (CIIT) in 2010 had launched the dual degree program in collaboration with the Lancaster University (LC) of United Kingdom (UK). Under the program, COMSATS students enrolled in seven undergraduate programs introduced were to be awarded two degrees, one from CIIT and other from LC. The programs included BS in Business Administration, Computer Sciences, Software Engineering, and Electronic Engineering, telecom Engineering, Computer Engineering and Chemical Engineering.

The report said that due to lack of administrative control, ineffective monitoring and evaluation mechanism and financial indiscipline hindered the program. The audit report prepared by Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) observed that the CIIT administration was involved in extra charging of fee by the students, irregular payment of TA/DA to its officials and offering of scholarships, irregular expenditure on purchase of air tickets and irregular offer of scholarship to faculty. It was observed that CIIT charged extra fee of Rs495.60-million from the 2532 students who took admission under Dual Degree Program (DDP) as compared with the fee charged from the students who took admission in Standard Degree Program (SDP) of CIIT. Audit observed that this additional fee was separate from 2000 Pounds which students remitted to LU. The audit also observed that students of DDP and SDP were studying the same curriculum in the same campus.

Though the audit declared the charging of fee as unjustified and required to be refunded to the students, the CIIT management said it a rightful act. The management in its reply said that DDP has been flagship educational program that required meeting the educational standards of a high ranking UK university. However audit authorities didn’t accept CIIT reply and recommended an independent inquiry to investigate the matter and fixing of responsibilities. Audit report also mentioned that the CIIT management sent 11 foreign delegations to LU which included 44 academic staff, 25 administrative staff, rector and minister of state under staff development initiative. The CIIT paid Rs11.775million to the members of foreign delegation against visa fee, ticket and TA/DA.

Audit observed that official visits abroad without prior approval of the Prime Minister/Minister in charge without obtaining clearance from ministry of finance was irregular and unauthorized. Meanwhile the CIIT management replied that the institute’s ordinance declares rector as administrative head and authorized to approve and sanction the expenditures approved by the Board of Governors (BoG) in different heads including TA/DA. The audited authorities didn’t accept the CIIT reply and recommended that the rules and regulation regarding payment of TA/DA may be provided to HEC for consideration and investigation and finding may be submitted to audit for verification.

The special audit also observed said the CIIT management shifted 55 students of BS Computer Science and 42 of BS Business Administration, who had paid normal/standard fee for SDP of CIIT for admission in spring 2011 to DDP without charging additional fee. It said payment of 2000 pounds, which was payable to LU by the student of DDP, was also made by CIIT, as scholarship to these students.

Audit viewed that payment of scholarship to one batch of students and that too without framing rules/obtaining approval of BoG was irregular and discriminatory. The CIIT management replied that campus director is competent to sanction the expenditure, but audit AGP didn’t accept the reply and recommended and independent inquiry committee to be formed to investigate the matter and fix the responsibility.

The audit also noted that the CIIT Lahore management incurred an expenditure of Rs3.014million on purchase of air tickets for 29 DDP Fall 2010 semester students and one faculty member for an academic visit to LC, UK. Food accommodation and local transport was provided by LU. Audit observed that later five batches of 82 students visited LU in its summer camp but arranged their own ticket and paid about 685pounds each for accommodation and local transport to LU.

The CIIT management said the campus director is competent to sanction the expenditure provided in the approval budget, but the audit authorities rejecting the reply recommended that efforts may be made to obtain the concurrence of the BoG and approval of Prime Minister and minister-in charge where necessary. The audit observation also included that the management of CIIT offered scholarships to its nine faculty members for split site PhD degree in collaboration with LC and paid Rs21.248million to its faculty members on account of visa fee, tuition fee, ticket and living allowance during their period of stay in LU. Audit observed that tuition fee at the rate of 6000 pounds per year of LU and maintenance allowance for one year at the rate of 750 pounds were paid in cash to the scholars in Pakistani rupee at the prevalent rate. Travel cost of GBP2000 was paid in cash to the scholars in Pakistani rupee t the prevalent rate. Audit viewed that payment of scholarship without framing rules and obtaining approval of BoG was irregular, payment in cash to the scholars and non-obtaining of adjustment was also regular. The AGP didn’t accept the reply submitted by CIIT management as it didn’t provide any documentary evidence in the support.