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HEC reduces Punjab University's budgetary grants over plagiarism

ISLAMABAD, Aug 12: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has withheld Rs100 million from Punjab University's budgetary grants and warned of similar steps until the university sacks five faculty members who were found involved in plagiarism.

The HEC has already frozen the university's development funds, linking the release of money with the teachers' dismissal.

Five teachers of the Punjab University's Centre of Higher Energy Physics were reported to have reproduced research work published by other researchers. They included CHEP Director Prof Fazal-i-Aleem and lecturers Maqsood Ahmad, Rasheed Ahmad, Sohail Afzal Tahir and Alam Saeed.

After an investigation committee constituted by the university's vice-chancellor confirmed the allegations, the university's syndicate removed Dr Aleem from his post while the other teachers were issued mild warnings.

The allegations were also verified by HEC's own three-member investigation committee after which the commission demanded of the university to remove the faculty members in question. The university refused to comply, resulting in the stoppage of the university's funding.

HEC's chairman Dr Attaur Reham said: "We are not going to give any relief to the Punjab University until it takes strict action against the faculty members who were involved in the criminal activity."

When asked whether budget cuts would adversely affect the university's research programmes, he said: " We are very much conscious of this fact, but it has to take some reasonable action in this regard". The HEC chairman insists the only punishment for the plagiarists is removal from service.

To another question, he said, at present the issue is being handled by the Governor Punjab himself as Chancellor of the university and its being hoped the issue would be solved in near future.

According to a press release issued on Saturday, the HEC initiated a programme to detect instances of plagiarism by Pakistani authors. For this purpose the commission has procured a special software known as 'Ithenticate'. "This software checks articles published from academic and research institutions in Pakistan for plagiarism."

The software is also being used to check for instances of plagiarism in PhD theses in local universities, a repository of which has been created within the HEC. Moreover, it said, the HEC will also freeze funds of universities which do not take appropriate action against plagiarism.

Similarly, the HEC intends to black-list and identify plagiarists on its website to curb this practice. Dawn
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