Many officials criticise the move knowing that many of their colleagues would be exposed
Islamabad, July 13: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has asked all 132 public and private sector universities to verify the degrees of their faculty members and staff.
An official of HEC said the Commission had written a letter to the vice-chancellors (VCs) of all the universities, asking them to direct their faculty members and administrative staff to submit their terminal qualification degrees for attestation latest by July 15.
According to the sources, top university administration officials and contractual employees in equivalent positions are also required to submit their degrees for attestation.
"According to the letter it has been decided that all degrees of universities would be verified in differenent phases as the process of verification of degrees of parliamentarians are still underway," said sources, adding, once the issue of parliamentarins' degrees is over, the process for verification of faculty members degrees would begin.
Sources said it might take months to finish off this matter as there were over 25,000 faculty members and staff in different universities and the verification staff was thin.
Besides faculty staff members, over 935 parlaimentarians degrees are still in process while over 161 parliamentarains degrees are sent back to Election Commssion of Pakistan (ECP) on grounds of poor vissibility of duplicate copy of degree and wrong information prescribed on it.
The sources said HEC was under enormous pressure regarding fake degrees parliamentarians. "Commission is being pressurised regarding fake degrees and the VCs of the universities would also be under pressure in this regard," sources said, adding, the degrees that are being unverified from HEC deemed fake.
According to sources, the move has created tension among administrative officials who were directly appointed by the previous governments. Sources say this is because most such officials are relatives of parliamentarians found guilty of having fake degrees.
During the tenure of the previous government, when a bachelor's degree was made compulsory for anyone wishing to contest an election, many parliamentarians obtained fake degrees. Many relatives of these parliamentarians also obtained fake degrees during the same period and became administrative officials at the universities. They obtained fake degrees from both private and public universities since the authorities did not bother to check these.
According to the sources, certain currently-employed officials received their degrees overnight but no authority had checked them. The sources also said that most fake degree-holders were administrative officials, not faculty members, since faculty members who rise by promotion do not take the risk of using fake degrees.
Now that the HEC has announced its intention to verify degrees, many officials at universities are criticising the move, knowing that many of their colleagues would be exposed.
According to the sources, the HEC has decided to take this new initiative as part of its drive to root out fake degrees, and considered the step an important one, since the HEC had gotten several complaints about fake degrees held by university staff members.
On the other hand, this move has drawn criticism from organisations such as the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUSA), which is alleging that the HEC, instead of solving real issues, was only creating further problems. Such criticism is to be expected however, since certain elements in society always resist a positive change.
Sources added no case of fake degree of faculty members was registered so far. "In recent days, a private university registerar's degree was challeged and the case is in process," sources said.
HEC Executive Director (ED) Sohail Naqvi said that HEC had asked faculty members of all universities to verify their degrees. "The process is hectic and may take a lot of time but we would chalk out a comprehensive strategy to make this huge task fulfilled in stipulated time after parliamentrians' degrees are verified," Naqvi said.
Protest from August 3 if demands not met: FAPUASA
Islamabad: Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) has decided to start a protest campaign from August 3 if the Higher Education Commission does not meet its demands by the deadline.
President FAPUASA Prof. Mahr Saeed Akhtar disclosed this while giving details of the 2-day executive council meeting in a press conference at National Press Club here on Monday.
Prof. Mahr said, "We had a lengthy meeting with HEC high officials earlier on Monday. He said that HEC has made a 5-member committee on journals headed by Dr. Altaf Shaikh from HEC. Other members are Prof. Mahr, Prof. Gulraiz Akhter, Prof. Kaleemullah and Prof. Abdul Quddus.
He said that condition of International GRE for PhD admissions in Pakistan be withdrawn. He castigated HEC for interfering in universities affairs, which have their own statutory bodies to take decisions.
He aid that there are more than 15 PhD cases at Quaid-i-Azam University alone where the students completed all the necessary requirements including satisfactory reports from the foreign experts but they are being denied defence of their theses on the instructions of HEC. He asked for holding their viva-voce immediately.
He called for stopping grants and aid in the name of endowment to private universities, which are already running in profits. Public funds are for public universities, he said.
He said that many faculty members are stuck up for decades on the same position and demanded personal grades for them.
He said that those teachers serving for 11, 17 or 25 years as lecturers, assistant professors or associate professors respectively should be given higher pay scale as already done in most of the universities in the country.
He said that elected representatives of teachers should be inducted in the statutory bodies of HEC for formulating rules and regulations.
Prof. Mahr condemned the Punjab Assembly resolution against media on the issue of fake degrees.
Answering questions, he said that wizards of Higher Education Commission download procedures and practices in the developed countries and without keeping in mind the local realities or situation on the ground announce them as policies. They even did not bother to replace the word 'state' with provinces while issuing Model University Ordinance in 2003. Answering anther question, he said that there should be one system in the country.
He said that either all should be paid tenure track system or basic pay scales.
He said that universities of Pakistan are facing the most acute problems in the history of the country and requested the president and the prime minister to hold a meeting with FAPUASA.
He said that executive council of FAPUASA intends to meet the president and prime minister to discuss the issues and request them to give us audience.
Students suffer in examination centres
Rawalpindi: Students taking MA part-II and LLB examinations at Government Gordon College examination centre are facing sever problems due to loadshedding when they got all their answer sheets soaked with sweating.
Presently around 250 to 300 students have been taking examination at the centre complained that there is no electricity throughout their three-hour paper.
Faisal Zia Warsi, a student appearing in MA part-II exams said that it is difficult to attempt paper due to the scorching heat, humidity as there is no electricity. "I tried my best, but I could not save my answer sheet becoming soaked due to sweating and some of the lines I wrote over it were also spoiled.
Hamza, another student, said that they had raised this matter before the examiners who expressed their inability to resolve it. The students also suffer due to low visibility in absence of the light.
Dr Abdul Qayyum, Principal of Government Gordon College when contacted, said that examinations of MA part-II and LLB are going on. "There are a number of problems we have been facing and we put these problems before the relevant authorities but to no avail," he added.
He said that they have no generators to use as a back up in case of loadshedding. Gordon College is a government educational institution and everybody knows about the plight of government-owned educational institutions, he added.
"I conduct examination centre as per directives of the education department, but it is very hard to provide the required facilities, he said adding the government has stopped development grants this time. The principal said, "I have put all these problems before the newly elected MNA Malik Shakeel Awan and even he could not help us to come out from this situation."
FG Public school distinction
Rawalpindi: The students of FG Public Secondary School Mahfooz Road have shown good result in the Secondary School Certificate Annual Examination of the Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education, says a press release. Ahsan Mushtaq stood first in the school by obtaining 933 marks in the SSC final examination. Overall 14 students secured A1 grade and 40 obtained A grade. Principal of the school Rashid Hussain congratulated both teachers and students alike on showing excellent result. The news