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ISLAMABAD: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has identified several deficiencies in many MPhil programmes offered at the International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI), many departments of which may face closure.

A seven-member HEC team formed in Feburary visited IIUI to inspect 64 MPhil or MS equivalent programmes and according to HEC sources, the team pointed out deficiencies in 35 of the programmes.

However, before issuing final orders for the closing of the programme, HEC shared the findings of the inspection team with IIUI and has sought a reply.

A team of IIUI President Prof Dr Ahmed Yousif Ahmed Al Draiweesh is preparing a reply for the HEC regarding the latter’s objections.

The draft report, available with Dawn, says the inspection team consisted of education experts and two HEC officials-Sulaiman Ahmed and Mohammad Ali Baig. They inspected 64 MPhil programmes in which 5,025 students are enrolled.

The team recommended halting and stoppage of further intake in over 30 programs. The report says IIUI started MS Bio-informatics with one PHD holding faculty member when according to HEC standards, two full-time PHD holding faculty members are required.

MS in bio sciences and chemistry were starting without obtaining a no-objection certificate from HEC. MS in economics, econometrics and environmental science were also started without HEC’s NOC. In the environmental science programme, there is one student and two PhD faculty members.

Serious deficiencies were also pointed out in management science and mechanical engineering programmes.

Excessive enrolment in several departments was also pointed out such as MS in computer science, economics and finance, Islamic banking and finance etc.

Several IIUI signature programmes including Islamic Studies and Shariah and Law also have several deficiencies.

In many cases, students were supervised by external supervisors such as in MS economics and finance and many students were supervised by adjunct faculty members such as in MS electrical engineering and mechanical engineering.

A single faculty member was supervising research students more than the limit prescribed by HEC. For example, Dr Abdul Rashid is currently supervising 23 MPhil/MS students against HEC guideline of 12 students.

The report says meetings of statutory bodies were not conducted with the frequency stipulated in the university act while statutes are approved by the academic council and not by the board of governors.

In most MS programmes, the recommended books are outdated and the scheme of studies needs to be revised, the report says and that several IIUI students were unaware of the usage and utility of the HEC digital library.

HEC spokesperson Aayesha Ikram told Dawn the commission has shared its findings with IIUI and will take the final decision of halting the programmes where deficiencies were found after receiving a response.

She said that HEC has been making efforts to improve the quality of education in all public and private sector universities. She added that in most of the cases, the draft report is considered as final report, but sharing it with universities, gives them a fair chance to raise objections on the report.

IIUI spokesperson Nasir Farid said that university will submit its objections to HEC in coming days. However, he did not agree with the findings of inspection team. “There are no discrepancies in our MPhil and MS programme and our reply we will satisfy HEC,” he said and that there are no chances of closure of its departments or programmes.

Published in Dawn, April 5th, 2018