Babar Awan doctorate degree, a fraud?
Babar Awan declares his American doctorate degree valid. US foundation terms the university fraud
|Islamabad, Nov 12: Like a minister of the Musharraf
cabinet, a high profile PPP minister has also been found holding a doctorate
degree issued by a fake US university declared to be 'fraud' by an authentic US
organisation and fined by a US court.
Although Federal Minister for
Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan said that his degree was valid, every
body else says it was fake and was wrongfully awarded by a university that was
never accredited for such degree programmes and was shut down in 2000 for being
The United States Educational Foundation (USEF) in Pakistan
confirmed that the said University was never allowed to offer degree programmes,
including Ph.D. "It was a fraud," the USEF Pakistan wrote to this correspondent
The minister, who admitted to have got his Ph.D degree from
the University of Monticello USA in 1997-98 through its distant learning
programme (correspondence course), however, insisted that his Ph.D was valid.
But the USEF Pakistan is of the view that the "fraud" university was
closed down in the year 2000 and was also fined US$1.7 million for befooling
innumerable international aspirants of different degree programmes.
Foundation also disclosed that a court in Hawaii had also directed the
university management to return all the tuition fees of the students, who had
enrolled with the institute. Acting spokesperson of the US embassy in Islamabad
Mr Wes Robertson when approached said that the USEF Pakistan is an
organisational set-up to promote opportunities and assist students intended to
study in Pakistan and vice versa. "It (USEF Pakistan) gives accurate and
credible information," Robertson categorically said.
To a question if
there exists any university in the US in the name of Monticello, the USEF
Pakistan said: "The closest that any university comes to that name is University
of Arkansas, which is in the town of Monticello. There was an unaccredited
institute named Monticello University but it was closed down."
Foundation also referred to two web links -http://
http://hawaii.gov/dcca/areas/ocp/udgi/lawsuits/monticello/ - which give details
of how the university defrauded international students and also give details of
the ruling of a court in Hawaii in a lawsuit filed against the
One of the links tells the tale of a student of history and
law, Todd Rebillot, who said that he had found the university on the Internet,
which looked professionally prepared. "I accepted that at face value and felt
confident that (the school) could provide me with an education and the degree I
was looking for."
It was not until the Wisconsin resident had paid more
than $3000, saw the school's address changed three times and was given the
run-around by school administrators that he finally grew suspicious. "When I
started asking questions, then they [the school] began skirting the issue. I
wasn't getting straight answers," Rebillot said.
Rebillot was convinced that he had been scammed. Others apparently had come to
the same conclusion. Babar Awan was one of those who were caught in the fraud
but he was given a degree after which he started writing the title of 'Dr'
before his name. This may not be valid now.
In April 2000, Monticello
University operator Leslie Snell was found guilty in Hawaii and Kansas of
issuing invalid degrees without state authority and was fined in excess of $1.7
million. The organisation was ordered to refund tuition to all the students.
Whether Dr Awan received his money back is not known.
Despite all this
evidence, Babar Awan insists that it is incorrect that the Monticello University
was unaccredited and that the Ph.D degree he was awarded is fake. Awan, who also
delivers regular lectures on Quran and Islam on a television channel, said that
he got to know about the university through an advertisement in the
international Times magazine and also reconfirmed the standing of the
institution from his acquaintances in the United States.
said that he was awarded the Ph.D degree through the university's distant
learning programme and because of his (Awan's) experience and research
He recollected that when he was awarded the Ph.D degree, the news
of his becoming doctorate also appeared in certain newspapers. He said that
during those days he was defending Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in the SGS reference
before an accountability court comprising Justice Qayyum and Justice Najmul
Besides the newspaper record, he said he still has the fee
vouchers that he had paid to the Monticello University and sent through proper
banking and financial channels. "There was absolutely no question of fraud at
that time when I got the degree from the said university," the minister
Babar Awan, who is known for oratory skills, however, perhaps does
not know that the University that awarded him the Ph.D degree was never
authorised to do so and that he had been fooled along with many other
"The recent news item about the doctorate of a federal minister being not authentic should come as no surprise. The minister for his part has defended his degree and has said that he does not think the university is fake. It is strange that a university operating without any accreditation, without any campus and willing to give a doctorate to anybody, in return for a handsome fee, did not seem suspect to the minister. The minister indeed is very simple and innocent.
Interestingly, a very similar situation occurred in Iran a few days back and the said minister had to resign. But of course we cannot follow the example of an 'extremist' country."
Name: Ahmed Zaheer
City, Country: Islamabad, Pakistan
"I totally disagree with Mr. Ashfaq Ahmad. The person who pursuing for Phd must have the calibre / knowledge about the hardships and steps in getting Phd. Mr. Awan is not so innocent that he just gave the money and got the degree and thinking himself doctrate. "
City, Country: Karachi, Pakistan
"This is in reference to a recent story regarding the so-called inauthentic doctorate degree of federal
minister Babar Awan. I think it is unfair to blame 'Dr sahib' eight years after
the university had been declared fraud. The news story writer said that the
university befooled 'Dr sahib' whereas, in fact, it is the people who are being
befooled. 'Dr sahib' is a politician and no politician is ever at a disadvantage
in any bargain (remember Maulana Fazlur Rehman?). Such degrees should
also be available to ordinary Pakistanis. I am sure a fake American degree would
be better than two valid Pakistani degrees. These degrees should be made
available to the public at subsidised rates to 'poor Pakistanis' as part of the
Benazir Income Support Programme so that they may get an opportunity for
employment at the managerial level in a government organisation."
Name: Ashfaq Ahmad
City, Country: Lahore, Pakistan
"It has been reported in the Economist dated November 8, 2008 that Iran's
parliament sacked the Interior Minister, Ali Kordan an ally of President Mahmood
Ahmadinejad, for falsely claiming to have an honorary degree from Oxford
University. We have a similar case of a false degree reported about a PhD degree claimed by Dr Babar Awan from
an American University which has since been declared by US Educational
Foundation to be unauthorized to award doctorate degrees. We wait to see as to
when Dr Babar Awan who is an ally of our President is sacked from his job.
The said University has also been asked to return the fees charged for
issuing false PhD degrees. This is a test case for our parliament to show that
it is genuinely supreme or only a house of cards. The nation awaits to see the
Name: DR M. YAQOOB BHATTI
City, Country: Lahore, Pakistan
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HEC Accreditation Councils explore collaborative possibilities
Islamabad: Accreditation Councils constituted by Higher Education
Commission (HEC) that are mandated to accord accreditation of degree programmes
being offered by Pakistani universities met here with the HEC representatives,
says a press release.
The purpose of the meeting was to explore the
possibilities of further enhancing collaboration and coordination amongst the 13
related Councils and with HEC to strengthen the common goal of quality assurance
Prof Sohail H Naqvi, Executive Director HEC, while
chairing the meeting stated that institutional accreditation is being performed
by HEC whereas programme accreditation is the responsibility of the respective
Councils that have complete autonomy in such matters.
commonality of processes, objectives and increased globalisation of education
requires a collective approach for meeting the challenges of quality assurance
with improved levels of international compatibility and competitiveness.
HEC assured the meeting participants of full cooperation to the Councils
in further strengthening their activities.
The key issues discussed in
the meeting were the current international practices being followed by
accreditation councils. A booklet 'Good Practices for Quality Assurance for
Accreditation Councils in Pakistan' based on the guidelines of International
Network of Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE) was shared
amongst the participants, so that the Councils may, if required, streamline
It was decided in the meeting that as the evaluators
appointed by the Councils play a major role in determining the level and quality
of programmes being accredited, their professionalism should be of great
importance. As such, procedures and criteria for their selection might need
revision considering the best international practices. Further, the Learning
Innovation Division of HEC was directed to arrange training workshops for the
As HEC is mandated to undertake the designing and revision
of curricula of different programmes, it has established National Curriculum
Revision Committees that recommend courses required for teaching in a particular
programme. Common representatives of institutions of higher education and
experts from user organisations form part of these committees. In all such
committees, nominees of Accreditation Councils would also be included to further
strengthening the process.
Other decisions taken in this committee to
increase cooperation included formation of a sub-committee that would formulate
requirements to be met by an institute for initiating a new programme, sharing
of information by establishing linkages of the Council websites with that of
HEC, and coordination of activities for increased sharing of information.
It was also decided in the meeting that the Accreditation Councils and
Quality Assurance Agency at HEC would hold quarterly meetings to deliberate on
issues of mutual interest. The News
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Quaid-e-Azam University's (QAU) Social Sciences Dept gets new head
Islamabad: President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday appointed Prof Dr
Naveed-i-Rahat new dean of Quaid-e-Azam University's (QAU) Social Sciences
Department. The president made the appointment in exercise of his powers as the
QAU chancellor. Dr Rahat currently heads the QAU Anthropology Department. Daily Times
"It is a real shame. Dr. Rahat has been accused of plagiarism of her own work. It has been proved through documentary evidence that she had cheated QAU to get professorship. HEC must take the action and terminate her services at earliest so that a cheater can not influence and destroy prestigious institution like QAU."
Name: Dr. Rauf Ahmad
City, Country: Islamabad, Pakistan
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