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Karachi University plagiarism cases, substandard research

KU research standard declines as plagiarism cases pile up
Karachi, Apr 12: Lingering questions about substandard research and slow progress in plagiarism cases at Karachi University have become a major source of concern among senior KU teachers and Higher Education Commission officials, it is learnt.

According to sources, two more cases of alleged plagiarism have been forwarded to the KU for investigations despite the fact that the university has not yet taken a final decision about the fate of teachers against whom plagiarism charges had been proved months ago.

The HEC made a request for an inquiry into the two cases after it had inquired about the credentials of a Japan-based professor. The professor was allegedly not a PhD but acted as a PhD thesis examiner in several cases of different departments. The university's reply to the HEC on the subject is still in the process.

Such delays on part of the KU administration are not confined to plagiarism cases or related inquiries, as the university has not yet withdrawn a PhD degree in criminology that it had awarded last year despite the fact that KU officials had accepted that no department by the name of 'criminology' existed on the campus. The admission by the university officials was made after a media report published in January highlighted the fact that a 'fake criminology department' was being run parallel to the sociology department.

Delay in plagiarism cases
Two inquiries - one conducted by university professors and the other by two retired judges separately and independently - into plagiarism cases against three senior university teachers were completed in October last year.

All these cases had been sent by the HEC for investigations over the past two years.

However, the sources said, the administration had not implemented a two-month-old decision of the syndicate so far. The administration was asked by the syndicate to seek an advice from the chief justice's nominee in the syndicate in a case related to two teachers who got retired while the case was still under investigation. The case was related to Prof Saeed Arayne, a former chairman of chemistry department, and Prof Najma Sultana (wife of Dr Arayne) a former dean of the faculty of pharmacy. Their case involved an ad-hoc teacher, Zakia Bibi, who was sacked last year on plagiarism charges.

In the wake of a syndicate's decision taken in January this year, though an inquiry officer was appointed in the case of Prof Jalaluddin Ahmed Noori, a former dean of the faculty of Islamic Studies, the case has not been decided as yet.

Expressing dissatisfaction on the KU's progress on plagiarism cases, HEC executive director Dr Sohail Naqvi said, "Progress in the decision-making phase has been very slow. Even in cases where plagiarism has been proven, no action has been taken," he said.

In reply to a question about the powers the HEC exercised over the institutions of higher education and how the KU could be asked to deliver, he said the HEC was not a powerless organisation, but before it would take any action, it wanted to ensure that due process was followed.

"You may recall the case of Punjab University, where action against those involved in plagiarism was not being taken. Finally, the HEC had to cut their funding and the officials concerned agreed to remove the plagiarists."

When asked, Dr Naqvi declined to give details of both cases which the HEC had recently forwarded to the KU for investigation.

A KU syndicate member, Dr Shakeel Farooqui, deplored the university's slow progress in plagiarism cases.

"The cases should have been decided by now. It's painful for everyone to see the university administration taking too much time," he said.

However, Dr Shahana Urooj, the pro-vice chancellor and the dean of the faculty of science, defended the administration, explaining that a final decision might take time as the cases involved senior teachers.

"It's a sensitive issue. Everything has to be looked into before a final decision is taken," she said.

Oddly enough, the university has no policy on plagiarism nor has it adopted the HEC's. It pursues such cases under charges of misconduct.

The vice-chancellor and registrar of the university were not available for comments.

Irregularities at BASR
According to some senior teachers, the plagiarism cases indicate the massive irregularities which have badly affected the working of the Board of Advanced Studies and Research (BASR), the university's supreme body to regulate research, over the years.

The irregularities include professors supervising PhD candidates without having their own expertise in the relevant field, award of degrees despite negative remarks in reports by two out of three examiners, selection of 'certain referees with consensus', non-PhDs supervising PhD students, publication of research papers in substandard journals and allowing teachers to act as PhD supervisors to dozens of students, which is a violation of the university code.

Besides, BASR does not have a consolidated, updated single document showing all amended versions of rules as well as a new set of regulations enacted over the years. This has made manipulations quite easy, according to the teachers who accused BASR of overlooking plagiarism.

They were of the view that increasing political pressures and a 'compliant' administration had made the matters worse.

In 1996, Prof Dr Riazul Islam, the only Professor Emeritus Karachi University has ever produced, got a resolution approved by BASR that only native scholars in foreign countries would examine research papers. This was done to discourage the practice of getting theses examined by expatriate Pakistanis having connections in the university. Since there does not exist a consolidated version of the BASR rules, hardly anyone remembers them now and the chances of violations increase.

When asked if the HEC had ever taken notice of any teacher acting as PhD supervisors to dozens of students, Dr Naqvi said, "Yes. We have formally taken up the issue of large numbers of PhD students registered with some faculty members as well as lack of adherence of the HEC's PhD quality criteria by some departments of the KU."

Your Comments
"Actually it not a row between college and KU, it is more a reflection o KUs chaos and submission to mafias influences. The actual recommendation was sent in 2008 by Board of Studies (HE) of KU to VC via Dean in year 2008 and noclaer decsiion has been given yet. Each year KU authroties verbally suggest giving provisionl admission on the premise that before enrolemnt matte woudl be decided as in principal it has been approved by Faculty of Science. But due to some unknown internal issues final and clear decsion is not given and this hinders smooth enrolent. In th interst of students ANY HELP from media would be grealty appreciatied. One theory is that agents of land mafia having inluence in uni do this to limit enrolment and make a case for grabbing the precious land. A well wisher of HE studetns"
Name: Teacher
City, Country:Karachi Pakistan

"Actually it not a row between college and KU, it is more a reflection o KUs chaos and submission to mafias influences. The actual recommendation was sent in 2008 by Board of Studies (HE) of KU to VC via Dean in year 2008 and noclaer decsiion has been given yet. Each year KU authroties verbally suggest giving provisionl admission on the premise that before enrolemnt matte woudl be decided as in principal it has been approved by Faculty of Science. But due to some unknown internal issues final and clear decsion is not given and this hinders smooth enrolent. In th interst of students ANY HELP from media would be grealty appreciatied. One theory is that agents of land mafia having inluence in uni do this to limit enrolment and make a case for grabbing the precious land. A well wisher of HE students"
Name: Teacher
City, Country: KarachiPakistan

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Students suffer in KU-college row over admissions criteria
Karachi: Several students of the Ra'ana Liaquat Ali Khan College of Home Economics might lose their academic year in the wake of Karachi University's belated decision related to admissions' eligibility criteria.

The students having passed their higher secondary school certificate and degree exams with at least 45 per cent got admissions to the RLAK College of Home Economics in first and third years of the Bachelors of Science programme, respectively. Since January when the current academic session began, they had been attending their classes on a regular basis.

However, they were taken aback when the college administration in the midst of the academic year informed them that their admissions would be cancelled because the University of Karachi had refused to accept the enrolment forms of those having less than 50 per cent marks in their higher secondary school certificate and degree exams.

The college, which is affiliated with the KU, claimed that provisional admissions in its BS programme on 45pc marks criteria were given with the approval of the KU's Board of Science Faculty. The board members at a meeting held on Jan 26 had agreed that provisional admissions might be granted according to the university's 45pc admission criteria.

Quoting a letter (dated March 5, 2010) that college principal Dr Rubina Hakeem had written to KU Registrar Prof Rais Alvi to know the fate of such students, sources in the college said that the letter inter alia states that: "On approval [from the Board of Science Faculty members], provisional admissions were given to students and an undertaking [was] taken by students as advised by the Dean Faculty of Science [KU]. Now at the time of enrolment due to some misunderstanding the Dean of the Faculty of Science has stated that the rule, if approved by the Academic Council, will be implemented from January 2011."

Later, KU Affiliation Committee's Secretary Prof M. Saleem Memon in his letter (dated March 27, 2010) addressed to the college principal stated: "I am sorry to say that despite a clear advice from the Dean, Faculty of Science, you have requested to allow provisional admission in the current academic year. This is to inform you that new eligibility criteria for admission to BS I/III [first and third years] will be implemented from January 2011."

College teachers were of the opinion that if the university could implement the new criteria for admission to BS first and third years from the next academic session, it could also apply such rules for the students already admitted to the college to save their academic year.

Meanwhile, the affected students and their parents requested Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad, who is also the chancellor of all public sector universities in the province, and Sindh Senior Minister for Education Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq to take up the matter and help save their academic year. They said the college students could not get admission in any other institution at this stage. Besides, they deplored that not only the fee they had deposited at the time of their admission would go waste but also their academic year if university officials did not change the decision. Dawn

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Education commission
Karachi: A proposal is under consideration to constitute the Sindh Education Commission which will suggest measures for raising the quality of education and will ensure transparency in the examination system.

The proposed commission will cover the education from the primary to university level.

"Discussions are being held in this connection with the chief minister and with the senior minister for education," Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad has said. In a recent meeting with Board of Secondary Education Karachi chairman Anzar Zaidi who called on him at the Governor's House, the governor directed him to reorganise the examination system on modern lines with minimum human involvement in the system. Ppi

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German C-G visits KU
Karachi: Consul-General (C-G) of Germany at Karachi, Dr Christian Brecht, visited the Institute of Sustainable Halophyte Utilisation (ISHU), University of Karachi (KU). Director of the Institute, Prof. Dr M Ajmal Khan briefed the C-G on the ongoing activities and showed him around the institute. The C-G appreciated the facilities available here for research and the work being done including the efforts on gainful utilisation of halophytes - plants of saline environments - to be used as animal fodder, edible oil, medicines, bio-fuel/bio-diesel etc. Dr H-W. Koyro from Justus-Leibig University, Giessen, Germany, visiting ISHU under a bilateral collaboration between Pakistan and Germany was also present on the occasion.

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FAPUASA to observe 'black day'
Karachi: The members of the Federation Of Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) has decided to observe 'black day' on Monday (today) in the universities all over Pakistan in protest against the mishandling of the professors and vice-chancellors in various universities of the country. They will wear black bands while conducting their classes. According to a spokesperson of FAPUASA, the association has also expressed their concern about the kidnapping of the Vice-Chancellor of Kohat University.

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The September Issue screened at PACC
Karachi: American documentary film maker/ author Sadia Shepherd screened her documentary on the making of Vogue magazine titled, "The September Issue", at the PACC (Pakistan American Culture Centre).

The documentary is a winner of Excellence in Cinematography Award at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and Audience Award at the 2009 Cinema Eye honors. The documentary was about the influence an editor of a popular magazine like Vogue has on the people and all the hard work involved in getting an issue of a Fashion ready. From model photo shoots to the selection of wardrobes and choice of models, everything is a part of a Fashion magazine. As such, magazines are more about visuals then text.

The screening of the documentary was followed by a question-and-answer session in which a couple of questions were raised. In answer to a question, she replied, "I don't have any plans of making a documentary film of Pakistani fashion Industry but I would love to make one".

Explaining the process of making such a documentary, she said that as a producer of the film she had to look at the overall production in terms of the people to be spoken to, the locations of the shoot, and apart from that she was also involved in the decision-making process of how the overall documentary would look.

Commenting, about the Pakistani Fashion Industry, she believed that a lot had been happening in the Pakistani fashion industry and she spent a lot of useful time with the fashion fraternity of Pakistan in which she attended studio photo shoots, fashion weeks, and other related activities.

A couple of student film makers from different universities also attended the screening and they were of the opinion that such exchange of artistes and film makers should take place more frequently. "I think it was a very useful event for us as student film makers because personal interaction with any film maker is what is required as we really get to know the film making process and even though handful, the film makers in Pakistan should also interact with students with greater frequency", Sehrish a film making student said. The news

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