HEC budget cut & foreign scholarships

Cut in budget likely to force HEC to drop 80% of students
Islamabad, July 24: A drastic cut in the annual budget is likely to force Higher Education Commission (HEC) to drop 80 per cent of students for foreign scholarships due to non-availability of required funds, sources said here on Friday.

The data showed that HEC set a target to select 800 students for foreign scholarships in MS, MPhil leading to PhD in universities of US, UK, Canada, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Germany, France and Cuba.

The annual PSDP budget for the HEC has been reduced from Rs22.5 billion to Rs15.7 billion and now it is finding it difficult to provide required funds to 640 students for foreign scholarships.

Sources said that the HEC has now approached top government functionaries for provision of funds otherwise it would have no option except to deprive hundreds of students of their foreign scholarships.

An official said the scheme of foreign scholarships was initiated to supplement HEC's efforts for provision of adequate number of trained PhD manpower that would ultimately help support technology upgrading, develop high standards of science and technology and meet growing challenges for national economy.

He said that a number of scholarships are being offered to scholars to continue their postgraduate studies in the field of economics and finance abroad, adding that the scholarships provide awards for PhD scholarships to universities in leading European and Asian countries with low tuition fees.

He said up to 10 per cent of the available seats are reserved to support the PhD level training of candidates, who have been admitted to a group of carefully selected universities in advanced countries based on their expertise in various disciplines.

Sources said that currently there are over 9,000 students studying on various scholarships and human resource development programmes, including foreign PhD scholarships in various stages of their progress and an amount of Rs10 billion is required to maintain their monthly stipends, tuition fees and research expenses.

The official said the allocated funds for the HEC would hardly enable them to meet expenses of those students already studying on scholarships so it would be difficult to provide more scholarships in the current year.

It is pertinent to mention here that Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani assured vice chancellors of 70 public sector universities on February 23 that there would be no cut in financial allocations for the education sector, but unfortunately, the facts appeared contrary to his claim in the annual fiscal budget.

HEC Member Operations and Planning Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad told this scribe that they have approached the government and hopefully required funds would be available for foreign scholarships of students.

To a question whether they have got any assurance for provision of required funds, he said, "Hopefully we would be able to arrange funds for foreign scholarships."

HEC Executive Director Dr. Sohail Naqvi told this scribe, "Unfortunately we lack required funds for foreign scholarships, but we would try our level best to achieve the target of 800 foreign scholarships this year."

"We have approached the government, but so far it has given no assurance for provision of required funds. If funds are not available then we would have no other option, but to reduce number of foreign scholarships," he said.

To a question, he said, it is not yet clear how much funds would be available in the education sector under Kerry-Lugar Bill, adding, "We hope a portion of funds would also be given for higher education sector in the country."

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HEC evaluates working of centres of excellence
Islamabad: Higher Education Commission (HEC) carried out a comprehensive survey to monitor the progress of working of the Centres of Excellence.

A consultative session of the directors of these centres, the Vice Chancellors of the universities where centres are established and the representative of ministry of Education was held at HEC on Friday. The meeting was chaired by Executive Director HEC Dr Sohail H Naqvi.

The survey was aimed at monitoring the progress of Centres in relation to their statutory functions like promotion of research in focused area of their specialization, training of human resource leading to award of MPhil and PhD degrees, dissemination of knowledge generated in shape of national and international seminars and symposia and to monitor meaningful utilization of funds.

During the consultative session, the directors of centres presented their academic development plan for next three years and informed the meeting about their operational difficulties in presence of the Vice chancellors.

It was agreed that the vice chancellors would facilitate convening of meetings of Board of Advance Studies and Research aimed at registration and production of more research scholars. The committee also agrees to appoint a sub-committee comprising three directors and three nominees of the voice chancellors to further streamline the rules and regulations for working of the centres of excellence. The news

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46 degrees confirmed as fake, says HEC
Islamabad: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has confirmed that the degrees of 46 members of parliament and provincial assemblies have so far turned out to be fake.

The public relations department of the commission said that a three-member committee overseeing the process of degree verification had found that academic claims of 223 legislators were genuine.

It said the HEC had been informed by some universities that cases of 10 legislators were in courts.

At present, 36 universities are checking the academic claims of elected representatives members of the Senate and National and provincial assemblies.

It is the third announcement made by the Higher Education Commission on the issue, with the number of dubious degree holders rising from 29 to 37 and now to 46. Dawn

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Fake degrees issue leaves youth utterly disappointed
Peshawar: The fake degrees issue is having a negative effect on the youth and their impressionable minds are being adversely affected by the whole affair.

Umair Khan, a PhD student of Philosophy, said if the lawmakers indulged in fraudulent practices, then crimes and social injustices would find a true patronage. "Whether the graduation condition is democratic or undemocratic is something which is beside the point," he believed, adding the main issue is the genuineness of the degree.

He said the lawmakers committed a serious offence and had tarnished the image of the country without offering any regret. He said the case of a lawmaker from Punjab could be cited as an example as he was disqualified on the same grounds but was re-elected in by-election.

"What has happened to the moral standards of the society and what kind of people are sitting in our assemblies?" he asked. Lubna Taimur of MA International Relations said the issue didn't relate to education but honesty. "Some elected members have cheated not only the government but also the nation. There were instances of great leaders such as Bacha Khan who were not highly educated but had the leadership qualities," she argued.

"A leader possessing qualities like patriotism, foresight and vision could lead a country. Those who come into the field through fraud and dishonesty cannot steer the nation out of crises as they themselves lack social and moral legitimacy," she added.

Imtiaz Ahmad, doing M Phil in Mass Communication, said the issue had left negative impact on the youth, especially the students. "Politicians are leading us astray. They are showing a shortcut to the students and encouraging them into using unfair means," he opined.

"The fake degree issue shows that the rule of law has lost its importance in the country as illegal means are used by the fake degree holders to achieve success. Hard work is the main casualty in such a situation," he felt.

Imtiaz Ahmad said due to a host of crises the country could not afford snap elections. He said the legislators with fake degrees should be disqualified and the runners-up declared winners. Abbas Khan, who is a master's student of political science said members of parliament were elected as the people trusted them.

"If the lawmakers set a wrong precedent by reaching the assemblies through fake degrees, then what about the common people?" he questioned. He said if such acts were not discouraged then every person would resort to illegal means and honest people would never be able to get the important posts.

Amjad Saleem, a student doing PhD in Linguistics, said the political parties were also to blame for awarding tickets to people with fake degree. "This showed the attitude of the society in general towards education. The fake degree issue had sent a wrong message to the youth that people could make it to the top positions by getting fake degrees," he pointed out. The news

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Manj used unfair means in BA exam, LHC informed
Lahore:: The Lahore High Court (LHC) was informed on Friday that PML-Q MPA Munawwar Husain Manj had used unfair means to obtain his BA degree from the University of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. This was stated in a report submitted by the university's legal adviser with regard to a petition challenging the degree of the MPA. An independent candidate, Khalid Mahmood Virk, had filed the petition. He had lost his election from PP-166, Sheikhupura, to the (respondent) MPA.

The report said the person who took BA examination in 2003 under roll number 7379 was not Munawwar Husain Manj, but was an impersonator. The candidate admitted before the varsity syndicate that the signature in the centre attendance sheet was not his, therefore, unfair means had been used in passing the examination by Mr Manj, the report said.

It said the syndicate recommended to the chairman to quash the result card and degree possessed by the MPA and also initiate disciplinary action.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial, however, adjourned hearing on the petition till Aug 20.

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QAU lecturer burnt in house fire
Rawalpindi: A lecturer of Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU) was burnt critically after being trapped in the fire that erupted at his ground floor apartment in sector F-11/1 on Friday, police said.

Suleman Sohail, who is a PhD student and a lecturer at QAU, was removed to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) with 100 per cent burns where he is stated to be in critical condition.

The police said the preliminary investigation suggested that an explosion followed by the fire occurred after Suleman showed a match stick to a gas stove.

Shortly afterwards, he was trapped in the fire and burnt critically.

On seeing the smoke coming out of his apartment, the people from neighbouring apartments rushed to his rescue and later the fire fighters were also called.

The fire was controlled after more than one hour while the burn victim was removed to the hospital where he is stated to be in critical condition. Dawn

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50 teachers complete US training course
Islamabad: US Minister Counselor for Public Affairs Larry Schwartz on Friday in a ceremony awarded certificates to 50 English teachers who participated in a two-week intensive teacher-training course during their summer vacations to hone their professional skills.

"We believe that by enhancing the skills of English teachers, the students will in turn be able to develop English skills that will give them tools to further enhance their academic goals," Larry said. The news

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