ISLAMABAD - About 45 university campuses and over 3,000 colleges are working illegally across the country that either have no affiliation with universities or have not obtained no-objection certificates.

“Currently, nearly 3,328 colleges offering degrees have neither affiliation with the universities nor have got no-objection certificates from the regulatory body of higher education,” Chairman Higher Education Commission (HEC) Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed told a panel of senators.

The Senate Standing Committee on Federal Education and Professional Training that met under the chairmanship of Senator Rahila Magsi Thursday discussed the status and standards of degree awarding colleges and sub-campuses of universities.

The members of the committee expressed their disquiet over lack of oversight by the HEC on higher education institutions. “Students study for years and pay heavy fee and at the end they come to know that their degrees are not valid. Why HEC does not take any action against such institutions,” objected Senator Sehar Kamaran.

The members held weak policies of the Commission responsible for the situation, saying that assertive policies of the Commission can keep a check on illegal institutions opening in every nook and corner of the country.

There is a mushroom growth of university campuses and sub-campuses in the country, the HEC Chairman told the senators. “The Commission has written time and again to federal and provincial governments to take on board the HEC before the opening or affiliation of new campuses but they do not heed,” he added.

He said that as a policy time period of four months has been given to colleges and universities for affiliation but they don’t bother to do so and later compel the Commission to recognise illegal institutions after enrolling hundreds of students.

“Currently, 171 universities, 138 campuses are functional across the country and of them 93 have obtained no objection certificates while the rest of the campuses have been enrolling students without affiliation with any university and working illegally,” he stated.

The committee members also discussed the dual degree issue of Comsats Institute of Information Technology (CIIT). Uphold the directions of Senate Standing Committee on Science and Technology on the matter, the parliamentarians maintained that as the said committee has discussed the matter of over 2,500 students enrolled in dual degree programme of the university at length and given directions over the issue, the committee should endorse the decision already made by the parliamentary committee.

The HEC and Pakistan Engineering Council have refused to recognise the dual degree programme of CIIT launched by the university five years ago.

But both the parliamentary committee have directed the regulatory bodies to recognise at least the enrolled students.