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HEC's plagiarism policy | AIOU admissions

Will the HEC's plagiarism policy matter?
Karachi, Aug 30, 2008: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has produced a booklet on plagiarism in its efforts to eradicate it, but when it comes to the University of Karachi (KU), no action has been taken against the alleged plagiarism rampant in the university.

The preamble of the booklet states: "In the wake of fundamental improvement being introduced in the system of Higher Education in Pakistan, the credit, respect, recognition of research and scholarly publications, career development and financial gains are now linked with such original works accomplished without replicating the efforts of the researchers."

According to the policy, which was introduced in October last year, if someone from a university is discovered plagiarising research material, that university can theoretically stop receiving funds from the HEC.

Despite this, according to an official from the Karachi University Teachers Society (KUTS), plagiarism rules are not meant to be taken seriously.

"After all, plagiarism is not confined to our university," he said. "Why bother about it?"

The official alluded to many cases in the university where research had been plagiarised, including that of a former dean of the pharmacy faculty, who had allegedly plagiarised research from a European research journal. "The case is with the Vice-Chancellor," asserted the official, and added, "I can show you the evidence."

The same official also mentioned another teacher who has allegedly headed the research of at least 15 dubious PhDs without anyone taking any action. "Nobody can dare to lift a finger against him. He has connections," said the KUTS official.

However, KUTS Secretary Dr Abid Hasnain maintained that the KUTS had "zero tolerance" for plagiarism. He said this with reference to the policy of the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association, a part of which says: "The Federation reiterates its policy of condemning plagiarism, but at the same time, demands that the HEC's policy against plagiarism, which was formulated in October 2007, should not be implemented with retrospective effect. Its implementation should be with prospective effect. The HEC should stop forthwith intimidating the teaching community and threatening the universities with stoppage of funds for acts of alleged plagiarism done in the past (before the issuance of HEC policy)".

In other words, while the Federation condemns plagiarism, its policy suggests is that all the acts of plagiarism committed prior October 2007 should not be taken into consideration.

While the initiative taken by the HEC may be considered praiseworthy by some, many believe it needs to drastically improve its own standards. Abdus Salam, Professor Emeritus, said, "HEC has taken on the mantle of monitoring quality at Pakistan's university. For this to be a justifiable activity, it would need to improve its own standards markedly."

For example, the literature found on the HEC website is such a poor reflection of its stature that it prompted a professor of Pakistani origin based in the United States to say, "Should it (HEC) not be reprimanded for its atrocious English?"

Abdus Salam, meanwhile, dissected the HEC's 35-page booklet on plagiarism, and found much to be displeased with.

"The booklet lacks mention of the date of publication, contrary to standard practice. This error is compounded by the absence of a contents page. It quotes from Wikipedia to explain the meaning of plagiarism; it is hardly an authoritative source on plagiarism!" he fumed.

According to Salam, over half of the 35-page booklet is merely a copy of the guidance document from a former polytechnic institute in the United Kingdom, used largely for padding. There are references to two documents on the subject, one from the Association of Computing Machinery and the other from University of Southampton. "All this reference material could be provided on the HEC's website," he said. The News

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AIOU not to extend last date in admissions
Islamabad: Director Admissions Allama Iqbal Open University Sohail Nazir Ranahas said on Friday that last date of September 5 for admissions to Autumn 2008 Semester would not be extended.

In a press release issued here on Friday he said that admissions were in progress across the country and the Middle East since August 1 and the aspirants were advised to submit forms by September 5 that would not be extended.

He said that admissions were open in all the educational programs from Matric to Ph.D levels.

The detailed advertisement and other information about Autumn 2008 Semester had been posted at AIOU website, he added.

He said that prospectus and admission forms were also available in admissions department of Allama Iqbal Open University and 36 regional offices and 100 coordination offices, countrywide.

Director Admissions, Sohail Rana added that the university had posted computerized admission forms to the already enrolled students.

If the enrolled students, he added, had not got admission forms, so far, they should download the form from AIOU website.

He said students were required to submit forms along with fee at the university's designated branches including National Bank of Pakistan, First Women Bank, and Bank Alfalah up to September 5. App

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Private spending on education stands at Rs36 billion
Islamabad: There has been an exponential growth in private sector education in Pakistan in recent years. Current private expenditure on education stands at Rs36 billion. Enrolment in private educational institutions has risen from 27% in 2002 to 33% in 2005. Islamabad alone houses 55.6% of the total private institutions in the country. To top it all, education is becoming a tradable sector for foreign direct investment.

Eminent speakers addressing an intellectually stimulating policy dialogue on 'Private Sector Education: Policy and Regulatory Issues' here on Friday cited the above data to remind the government of the imperative need to strengthen existing regulatory instruments in the education sector so that these regimes can efficiently perform the functions for which they have been established.

Jointly organised by the Institute of Policy Studies (I-SAPS) and Campaign for Quality Education (CQE), the dialogue featured an enriching discussion on the existing state of affairs in private schools on the one hand, and higher education institutions, on the other. This was done within the framework of the regulatory regimes governing primary and higher education. The idea was to critically evaluate these frameworks, particularly in terms of the weaknesses inherent in them so as to offer a direction for future efforts.

The session attracted an unexpectedly large audience comprising heads and teachers of educational institutions in the public and private sectors, as well as the media. The session was tailored to allow for three presentations, followed by discussions led by an equal number of discussants.

The executive director of I-SAPS, Dr. Salman Humayun, emphasised that the existing regulatory mechanisms in the education sector should be strengthened with adequate resources and capacities so that Pakistan is well-prepared to handle the onslaught of foreign direct investment under the General Agreement on Trade Services. "The government has failed to provide resources and seed grants to make these regulatory bodies functional. Why should this burden be passed on to students and parents," he asked.

Earlier, while setting the context, Dr. Salman informed that the number of private institutions in Pakistan has risen from 3,300 in 1983 to 81,103 in 2005, and that households opting for private schools spend 648% more.

Dr. Salman shared the important clauses of the Islamabad Capital Territory Private Educational Institutions (Regulation and Promotion) Ordinance 2006 to see how it can be improved at a time when the government is inclined to garner richer participation of the private sector in education.

Dr. Salman pointed out that quality control finds no mention in the aims of the ICT Regulatory Authority, which is mandated to register, regulate and promote private educational institutions in ICT. The Authority is also supposed to achieve a fair measure of uniformity of academic standards and evaluation among institutions. "What are these academic standards and where do we stand," Dr. Salman asked before moving on to stress the need to generate nothing short of a national response to the educational challenges facing Pakistan.

Coming to the Authority's stated objective of ensuring that the services and quality of education being provided is commensurate with the fees being charged, Dr. Salman reminded the gathering that the Cabinet has already over-ruled this clause. He also emphasised that clauses pertaining to giving of indemnity and fixing of responsibility also need to be re-evaluated. The I-SAPS chief regretted that whatever little negotiations are being held between private service providers and regulators revolve around issues of revenue, and increasing the number of students per class, rather than those pertaining to quality and equity.

Abbas Rashid from CQE pointed out that from the standpoint of quality, private schools may be marginally better than government schools but they still fall short of reasonable standards of learning achievements and quality education. He stressed that while one may be more cognizant of the problems with public sector education, there are a number of issues of quality and equity that need to be addressed in the context of the private sector as well. Abbas called for a regulatory and support regime for the private sector and an incentives and accountability system for the public sector.

I-SAPS research fellow Kashif Mumtaz dwelt on policy and regulatory issues concerning private sector higher education. He said there has been a 400% increase in the number of Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) from 1996 to 2006 as opposed to 100% in the public sector during the corresponding period. He was of the view that the HEC's role as a regulator has not been as effective as it should be, given the huge resources available at its disposal.

Criticising the HEC's ranking criteria, Kashif said student satisfaction finds no mention in the number of fields against which institutions are graded.

The presentations were followed by an enlightening discussion initiated by the Secretary of the Islamabad Capital Territory Private Educational Institutions (Regulation and Promotion) Regulatory Authority Colonel (r) Muhammad Ashraf, the adviser on Quality Assurance and Learning Innovations at the Higher Education Commission, Riaz Hussain Qureshi, and professor of economics at the Lahore University of Management Sciences Dr. Faisal Bari. Former MNA Riaz Fatyana also participated. The News

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