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.