PhD degree of Comsats rector cancelled over ‘plagiarism’

* Detection software Turnitin had found plagiarism level at 72 per cent in the thesis

PhD degree of Comsats rector cancelled over ‘plagiarism’

ISLAMABAD: The PhD degree of Pro-Rector Comsats Institute of Information Technology (CIIT) and Chief Executive Officer of the National Testing Service (NTS) has been canceled by a probe committee in the Preston University.

An Academic Council of Preston University in a meeting, decided to cancel the doctorate degree of Haroon Rashid, reliable sources in the revealed Daily Times.

Rashid, got his Ph.D degree from Preston University in 2006 which was proved plagiarized by Quality Assurance (QA) Division of Higher Education Commission (HEC), through plagiarism detection software Turnitin, found the plagiarism level at 72 per cent in thesis of the degree.

In compliance with HEC letter wrote in September last year, Preston formed a four-member probe committee comprised on senior academics including Dr. Ameer of Abasyn University Peshawar, Dr Muhammad Jamil of Northern University (NU) Nowshera, Dr Ayub Alvi of FAST University Islamabad and Dr Saqib of the AIOU.

The thesis of the degree, titled "Parallel Scientific Applications Scheduling on Distributed Computing System", was submitted to Preston University in 2006 by the pro-reactor. While the alleged theft thesis was originally written by Rafiqul Zaman Khan titled "Empirical Study of Task Partitioning, Scheduling and Load Balancing Strategies for Distributed Images of Computing System." and in 2004 Khan submitted that thesis to Hamdard University in New Delhi, India for acquiring his PhD degree.

According to the HEC plagiarism bylaws, there were different kinds of punishment for the person who found plagiarizing academic work. Such person can be punished under one of three categories: major, moderate and minor. The penalty in major cases is dismissal from service, while people involved in moderate plagiarism can be demoted or blacklisted. The minor penalty is a warning to the professor and freezing all research grants to him/her.

Rashid has been awarded Sitara-e-Imtiaz in the last Pakistan People's Party Government and has been working with Comsats for over five years. He has worked for various government organizations over the past 35 years.

Rashid, after the allegations, had approached Islamabad High Court (IHC) against the HEC for alleged concealment of thesis. In the petition he had accused the HEC Chairman of waging a media war against him, and the Commission, Rashid said, did not act upon its own devised policy.

He stated in the petition that as per policy his case of plagiarism could not be opened as the rule was only applicable after September 2007. The IHC however, on June 3 dismissed the case stating that "devoid of merits".

An academic council member, who wished not to be named, shared that although the HEC's policy was not applicable on Rashid, the cancellation of his degree was very good measure as that was a concealment for which should be punished.

Preston University spokesperson Dr Fazal Elahi, when contacted confirmed cancellation of Rashid's degree.