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Plagiarist professors: LUMS quiz: Beaconites excel in 'O' level

Plagiarist professors
March 03, 2008: The Punjab University (PU), one of the most prestigious centres of higher learning in the country, appears to have degenerated into an institution harbouring plagiarist professors of every tier. The former head of the university's Psychology Department, removed a few weeks ago after allegations of plagiarism made against him were found to be backed by evidence, has now accused the professor appointed in his place of stealing from the work of students. He has also alleged previous complaints against her to the Higher Education Commission (HEC) had been ignored. This latest fracas comes only a few days after the PU chancellor, the governor of Punjab, dismissed several high-profile physics professors who had been found guilty of similar academic fraud following an HEC-ordered inquiry.

While the entire situation has led to a Pandora's Box of accusations and counter-accusations being opened up, with accusations of deliberate conspiracy thrown into the cauldron by those accused, the whole situation exposes the scale of the plagiarist menace in the country. Over the past few years alone, similar charges have led to punitive measures against staff or research students at the Government College University in Lahore and the Jamshoro University in Sindh. It is feared the problem may be just as rife at other places. In the first place, for all the criticism levelled towards it, the HEC needs to be commended for taking on the matter head-on. Its unflinching determination to deal severely with plagiarists has helped drive home the message that such academic fraud is unacceptable. Till now it had been seen as a practice that was only rarely referred to or even regarded as an offence.

Such attitudes, which are contributing to the ongoing, and extremely ugly, controversy at the PU, are also a reminder of just how low our academic standards have slipped. It seems that not only students, but also senior professors, think little of claiming work done by others around the world as their own. A similar mindset and the disappearance of ethics from academics at all levels, has contributed to the widespread menace of cheating - with surveys showing that many students, from primary level upwards, do not even see this as a problem. In fact, the malaise does not affect only academics and teachers but also is quite pervasive, perhaps because of the widespread use of the Internet, among students. Many assume that there is nothing wrong in copying, often verbatim, material from elsewhere without attributing it to the original source of publication. The presumption is that there is nothing wrong with this and that such material is in the public realm. Clearly, any attempt to stem the tide of plagiarism on our university and college campuses will have to take into consideration this aspect as well. A start could come from the HEC which could require all such institutions to formulate and implement honour codes that unambiguously set rules concerning plagiarism and which empower administrations to penalize students that violate such guidelines.

A major change in the approach to academics is required if the prestige of once renowned institutions is to be restored. Private-sector universities have shown that it is indeed possible to enforce rigorous standards of research and study, on par with those expected anywhere in the world. Other institutions, including those based in the public sector, need to emulate these models - and thus rescue higher education and research from the depths into which it has currently fallen, largely as a consequence of indifference shown in the past by bodies intended to enforce standards and prevent the kind of malpractice that now seems to be rampant at the PU and elsewhere. The News

Beaconites excel in 'O' level examination
Islamabad, March 03: The annual prize distribution ceremony of the Beaconhouse School System (BSS), Boys Branch, Margalla Campus, was held here.

Branch Head Mrs Ayesha Sohail highlighted distinctions achieved by students of BMI-B in the GCE 'O' level examinations of 2006-07 in which Muhammad Junaid Farooq topped internationally in Mathematics D, Shimron Bhatti topped internationally in Religious Studies and Asad Hassan topped in Islamabad Region in Chemistry. Wasiq Ahmed Tarar secured first position internationally in Kangaroo Mathematics Test and two BMI-B students got United World Colleges scholarship, says a press release.

Presenting the school's annual report, the branch head added that emphasis is given on curricular as well as extra-curricular activities from early classes.

On the occasion, students presented a tableau, national songs and skits. Beaconhouse School System Executive Director Daniyal Kasuri distributed prizes among students.

BSS Margalla Campus Principal Naveed Kazmi, CEO Mrs Fouzia Rizwan and HMBMI-G Mrs Shamim Farooq also attended the ceremony. The News

Quiz held at YLES to test general, corporate knowledge
Lahore, March 02: A quiz competition was held on the third day of the Young Leaders and Entrepreneurs Summit (YLES) 2008 at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) on Saturday.

The quiz was to test the general and corporate knowledge of the participants that aroused animated discussions, warming the delegates to the demanding round of 'Harvard Case Study'.

According to a press release, Harvard Case Study conducted under the supervision of experienced moderators provided the participants with a forum to display their decision-making and entrepreneurial skills, and to sharpen their analytical sense for the competition ahead.

Balancing the bridge between student life and the real corporate world, it tested their ability to formulate sound opinions, based on logical and rational reasoning, and to present their points of view as part of a group convincingly.

The participants received some leisure time, during which they were apprised of the fortunate ones who proceeded on to the next rounds.

Commencing after an hour-long break, Leader Quiz Round 2 and Harvard Case Study (final round) brought the participants back to the forum, involving them in the active debates and discussions once again.

Finishing the proceedings, Harvard Case Study's moderators reconciled the varying opinions and issued a decision based on the strength of the arguments posed by various groups. On the other hand, another quiz session proceeded to decide the winners. Daily Times
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