ISLAMABAD, April 3: The Higher Education Commission has stopped funding the Punjab University because of its failure to take action against the faculty members involved in plagiarism in their research work.

“This is cheating and the HEC cannot allow this to continue,” the HEC Chairman Dr Attaur Rehman told Dawn. The HEC does respect autonomy of the public sector universities, but it does not mean that they should stop following very simple principle of teaching, which is followed all over the world.

“The HEC will not provide any funding to the university until it takes required action against the plagiarists which, by simple international standards, is removal from service,” Dr Atta said. If teachers would start doing cheating, how can they ask their students to follow principles of learning, he added.

The syndicate of the PU has let its five faculty members go after handing down mild punishments. They have been found guilty of copying research work done by others and reproducing research articles under there names.

The PU’s syndicate argued that since neither university’s calender nor any government legislation suggested prescribed penalty that is why they have been handed down mild punishments. However, the Chairman, HEC has written to the PU vice chancellor that if found guilty remove the cheaters from service.

There are clear instructions from the prime minister that governance and quality assurance issues should be linked to funding and any university refusing to take tough action against plagiarism and intellectual theft will have its grants cut off, Dr Atta said.

It (decision) has tarnished the image of the country, and “I am continuously receiving e-mails from every nook and corner of the world, criticising PU for taking such a soft stance towards plagiarists,” Dr Atta said.

Similarly, replying to a question the executive director, HEC, Dr Sohail Naqvi said that the PU had to take some concrete action otherwise would face cut in its beget.

“Universities are expected to put a stop to such malpractice, instead of condoning them. It must be realized by all that plagiarism is academic death for a faculty member.

His academic career must end if he is found guilty,” Dr Atta was quoted as saying in official statement issued by the HEC on Tuesday.

Centre for High Energy Physics (CHEP), PU, has been at the centre of a plagiarism scandal which involved the Centre’s Director, Dr Fazl-i-Aleem and lecturers; Mr Maqsood Ahmad, Mr Sohail Afzal Tahir, Mr Alam Saeed and Mr Rashid Ahmad. The HEC had demanded an inquiry into the allegations which has now culminated in the university syndicate’s decision to issue only a warning to the faculty members.

HEC is also contemplating similar sanctions against University of Sindh, Jamshoro if proceedings are not initiated by the university against Mr Asad Shaikh, Associate Professor and PhD research scholar regarding plagiarism of a research article originally published by Prof. Zhi Wang, the statement said.