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HEC yet to recover Rs136m from scholars who breached surety bond agreements

Published: August 26, 2013
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According to HEC rules, agreement breaches warrant the imposition of up to a 25 per cent penalty on the scholar and can also result in the cancellation of scholarships by the HEC chairperson or executive director. PHOTO: FILE

According to HEC rules, agreement breaches warrant the imposition of up to a 25 per cent penalty on the scholar and can also result in the cancellation of scholarships by the HEC chairperson or executive director. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has yet to recover Rs136 million it provided for scholars who breached various agreements under local and foreign scholarships they were awarded during the last five years.

An Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) report submitted before the National Assembly last week had questioned the conditions on which the HEC sends students abroad on scholarships.

According to HEC rules, agreement breaches warrant the imposition of up to a 25 per cent penalty on the scholar and can also result in the cancellation of scholarships by the HEC chairperson or executive director.

Under HEC criteria for awarding scholarships, all documents, namely the Deed of Agreement, Guarantee to HEC, Declaration of Assets, Certification of Financial Soundness and Surety Bond must be properly attested.

The AGP report expressed concerns over the HEC’s reluctance to implement the terms of the surety bonds.

The HEC did not recover the tuition fees it paid for the students from the guarantors, the report added.

Scholars are also required to return to Pakistan immediately upon completing their studies to serve in the Government of Pakistan for a period of six years. In many cases, this did not happen.

The HEC in its reply stated that all formalities were fulfilled before the scholarships were awarded to the deserving candidates and that cases were being heard in the courts against defaulters.

According to HEC sources, over 50 students are facing litigation in different courts across the country.

The AGP did not accept the HEC’s reply and stated that the non-recovery of Rs136 million indicated failure on the management’s part to implement the surety bonds’ terms.

An HEC officer who is part of the overseas scholarship programme said that in 10 cases where legal notices were served to candidates listed in their scholarship application documents, the addresses were found to have been false.

Meanwhile, their CNICs did not match the data they had provided to the HEC, he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 26th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • Pakistani
    Aug 26, 2013 - 10:51AM

    that’s why i am never in favour of this. Why should the country suffer because of some people who get higher education and then they settle aborad. if you want to settle abroad, do it on your own money.

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  • Saud
    Aug 26, 2013 - 11:29AM

    It is a poor strategy to bind students with surety bonds and expect them to come back.
    Instead, the govt should focus on attracting qualified Pakistanis who have already completed their education by offering them attractive market based packages.

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  • Xnain
    Aug 26, 2013 - 12:20PM

    @Saud:
    “It is a poor strategy to bind students with surety bonds and expect them to come back.”
    If they would have been their on their own money, then I would have no objection. But the fact is that its TAX PAYER’s money. If we fund them, we also expect them to show some moral decency and serve the nation which helped them realize their dreams.

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  • Omair
    Aug 27, 2013 - 12:35PM

    These people have abused a very good helpful system….they should be held accountable if HEC abolishes scholarship plan….

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  • Farhan
    Aug 28, 2013 - 8:17PM

    People are commenting on this news without any knowledge of what they are talking about. There is a category of HEC Scholars who left their degrees to start jobs, if they are called as defaulters then it is fine. But a major category of so called “defaulters” are those who did very well in their PhDs and succeeded in obtaining highly competitive Post-Doctoral positions in very prestigious labs. They want to avail these hard earned opportunities and stay for another two to three years abroad before eventually returning to Pakistan. Here comes the problem, HEC’s authorities have absolutely failed to understand that Post-doctoral training is even more important in the career of a Young scientist than the PhD itself. It is just like denying the possibility of doing a house job to a fresh MBBS graduate and asking him to start major surgeries directly. What is even funnier, is that HEC itself is offering Post-doctoral fellowships for which they are spending a huge sum.

    Understandably many of these young scientists have declined to bow to HEC’s undue preseure and illegal harassement and are getting post-doctoral training before returning to Pakistan. And if someone gets a permanent position in western labs, then whats better than this for Pakistan? In this case, HEC should convert the scholarship into a student loan and I am sure it will get the money back besides the added benefit that these people are going to serve as highly needed bridges for young Pakistani students. However, here again, ill advised HEC authorities are asking for one time reimbursement of all the money + 25% penalty (Interest in fact) which runs into 6 -7 million rupees on average. This is wholly un-realistic and HEC will only create headache for itself and for scholars.

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  • saud
    Aug 29, 2013 - 10:53AM

    @Farhan
    HEC is absolutely justified in its demands. These “scholars” signed a contract and they are now violating its terms. Having a better and more lucrative opportunity is no justification for violating the terms of a signed contract. These scolars have benefitted themselves from the HEC program but now they are putting the whole program in jeopardy by violating its terms. This is not fair to the country, the HEC or the future young schiolars who wish to benefit from this program.

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  • Farhan
    Aug 29, 2013 - 12:19PM

    @Saud
    Kindly tell me about any “Lucrative” post-doctoral positions somewhere in the world. I will be happy to pay all the money back to HEC if I find what you are calling “lucrative” opportunity. As far as I know, post-doctoral positions all over the world are the least “lucrative” than all other jobs. It is just like house job of a doctor who is paid peanuts but has to work harder than anyone else ….. just because it is THE MOST important training in his career.

    This is exactly the problem with HEC’s authorities and other so called “sympathizers” of HEC that they think that young scholars are staying abroad for Financial benefits whereas the reality is that except for a minor fraction, the motive behind this decision is to achieve scientific excellence by working in the places of excellence. And HEC must understand this fact and try to make this situation a WIN-WIN for everybody and not otherwise.

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  • Omer
    Aug 30, 2013 - 2:11AM

    @Farhan:
    Well, depends on your reference for being lucrative. I agree that in context of industry jobs abroad, postdoctoral positions are least lucrative but how about you compare it with a faculty job in Pakistan? Financial benefit is the major if not only reason for scholars not returning back.
    Moreover, yes HEC gives postdoctoral fellowships even to those who did PhD on HEC funding but after working in Pakistan for 2-3 years. HEC is also flexible if you want to pursue abroad on your own after working for 2-3 years here. But the problem is with the scholars who do not want to return. They must return immediately after completing PhD because they agreed to it in scholarship condition. Whatever reason they have for working overseas after PhD, they must have thought about it when they were signing bond. No one forced them to do so at that time. Now after using the taxpayers money they have got all kinds of justifications.

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  • khan
    Aug 31, 2013 - 7:21AM

    @Omer

    Post Doctoral period is very important for any young PhD, getting any post-doc let me assure you is extremely competitive. Rather than dragging them to court, HEC needs to encourage these brilliant scholars, harassing them will lead to no good.

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  • Sara Arif
    Sep 4, 2013 - 6:30AM

    @saud. You have absolutely no idea how much a post doc is paid. It is in NOWAY a “lucrative” position even compared to faculty positions in Pakistan. Most post doc positions are just a little over what HEC pays for the scholarship. It may seem more in terms of numbers as compared to Pakistan, but if you factor in the cost of living here, it becomes a hand to mouth situation for the person.
    @ Farhan. I TOTALLY agree with Farhan. He has given a very realistic picture of what this is all about. Converting it to a loan would make it like most other countries in particular India.

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  • Amir
    Sep 11, 2013 - 4:56PM

    plz tell me if studends get Need base scholarship…but after 2 semester his CGPA is <2.5 …then what HEC do with this students…As It cancel his scholarship or give him a chance for continuation of scholarship…Plz anyone tell…who know this betterly…

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