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HEC hesitant about acting against PU Plagiarism

ISLAMABAD, April 16(Dawn): The Higher Education Commission (HEC) on Saturday reiterated that it would punish plagiarist teachers and the university which tolerates them but hesitated to do so in the case of Punjab University (PU).

A statement issued by the HEC after discussing the weak action taken by the PU against three plagiarists identified in its faculty said the Chancellor of PU, that is the Governor of Punjab, would be approached to take suo motu action.

Members of the HEC were called to discuss a response to the PU's complaint to the Council of Common Interest that the HEC had frozen its funding to the university, the country's oldest, over the plagiarism issue.

An official of the HEC said that instead of firing them the PU Syndicate let off the plagiarists lightly.

Prof Fazal-i-Aleem was removed as Director, Centre of High Energy Physics (CHEP) but was kept on the faculty, and lecturers Maqsood Ahmad, Rasheed Ahmad, Sohail Afzal Tahir and Alam Saeed were merely issued warnings.

Prof Aleem's tenure as CHEP director had ended in October last year, but he was asked to carry on until further order.

In its statement, the HEC said that teachers served as a role model to the student community, but due to lax practices followed in the past, cheating and use of unfair means had acquired a foothold in academia. Immediate steps should be taken to address this, it said.

"Plagiarism is the death knell of academia. Cheating by teachers must be considered an academic crime of the highest order that deserves the strictest punishment," the statement said.

The commission approved the acquisition of anti-plagiarism software that would check publications and research reports emanating from institutions of higher learning.

It declared zero tolerance towards plagiarism and resolved that wherever the charge of plagiarism was proved, the university authorities must act swiftly and take action leading to the dismissal of students or faculty members involved.

It was also decided that a blacklist would be created on the HEC website to provide the names and designations as well as other information about proven cases of plagiarisms.

Use of unethical means by a small minority of researchers will not be allowed to tarnish the excellent work of a majority of hard working researchers in Pakistan, it said.
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