HEC agrees to accept Comsats dual degrees
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By Malik Asad | 10/9/2015 12:00:00 AM
ISLAMABAD: The controversy over the dual degree programme of Comsats Institute of Information Technology (CIIT) ended on Thursday after the Higher Education Commission (HEC) consented to accept its degrees.

HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed gave the assurance to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) after CIIT Rector Junaid Zaidi gave an undertaking that they would not press the HEC for the recognition of the UK-based Lancaster University degree.

CIIT started offering the dual degrees in 2010 under which its students could spend partoftheirstudy at the Lancaster University campus.

The fee of the dual degree programme was £2,000 per student.

The controversy aroused in 2013 when the HEC refused to approve the programme after which the students, who had graduated from the CIIT and wanted to go abroad, found it difficult to get their educational certificates attested from the commission.

The Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) also refused to give recogni-tion to the CIIT`s engineering programme.

During Thursday`s briefing, the CIIT rector conceded before the PAC that they had started the programme without the mandatory approval of the HEC.

He, however, termed it an `overtrust` on the HEC as the commission had initially praised the dual degree programme.

In reply to a question raised by PAC Chairman Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah, the HEC chairman said since both the CIIT and Lancaster University were esteemed educational institutions, the HEC had no reason to doubt their agreement.

He, however, said since the CIIT did not fulfil the mandatory clauses of the agreement nor invited the Lancaster faculty to teach the students, HEC raised the objections on the dual degree programme.

The committee wondered why CIIT started admissions in the programme without completing the required formalities, putting the future of 2,500 students at stake.

The PAC members, however, asked both HEC and Comsats Institute of Information Technology to come up with a tangible solution to protectthe future of the students.

Auditor General of Pakistan Rana Asad Amin suggested the Comsats Institute of Information Technology might be asked to tender an apology to the students as it failed in its commitment to award them the dual degrees. It should also refund the entire amount to the students besides awarding them the Comsats localdegree,he added.

The AGP also informed the committee that a special audit on the CIIT`s dual degree programme was underway and its report would be submitted to the PAC soon.

The HEC chairman told the committee that UK`s education council did not recognise CIIT`s degree. He, however, said the Lancaster University had expressed its willingness to impart education to the students for 2-3 semesters so the CIIT`s students could meet the standard of the UK`s educational council.

Dr Arif Alvi, a PAC member, asked the HEC chairman to come up with a policy so that the Pakistani students can benefit from the foreign educational institutions.

The HEC chairman said the policy in this regard had already been circulated among the universities.