LAHORE - Future of around 3,000 students is at stake as they have not been issued undergraduate degrees by the Institute of Information Technology (COMSATS) despite payment of four-time higher fee under the Dual Degree Programee (DDP).

The private educational institute, started DDP in 2010 promising students award of two degrees on the completion of a four years degree programme: one from COMSATS and the other from Lancaster University, UK.

These degrees were to be awarded in the disciplines of Engineering, Computer Science and Management Sciences. But, the institute did not get the mandatory approval from the Higher Education Commission and the Pakistan Engineering Council for its dual degree programme.

It also transpired later on that Lancaster University of UK had no accreditation from the Institution of Engineering and Technology and Engineering Council of UK and hence its degree was no more valid.

Besides, the MoU signed by COMSATS with the UK University in February, 2010, also expired on January 1, 2011 since the institute did not obtain NOC from the HEC and its own Board of Governors as per conditions of the MoU.

The classes started in September 2010. The institute charged Rs1.3 million per student for its DDP, but the degrees were not issued since the MoU with Lancaster University had already expired.

The students took their case to the Lahore High Court which issued an interim order on April 30, 2015 asking COMSATS to return the extra fee charged to the students, besides awarding them its own degree.

Federal Ombudsman also directed the university to refund the fees in case of failure in provision of dual degree.

Students informed this scribe that the LHC directed COMSATS, HEC and Pakistan Engineering Council in a short order to prepare recommendations about awarding a local degree to the students which must be approved by all authorities.

However, Pakistan Engineering Council, in their final reply refused to approve the degree of Lancaster University but agreed to accredit local degrees.

But the administration of COMSATS is yet to implement the decision.

A former teacher of the institution Yassir Sadiqui and some of the stakeholder students namely Mohsin Ilyas and Arslan, president students’ action committee, alleged that after offering the DDP, the COMSATS administration increased the fee of the four-year programme from Rs400,000 to around Rs1.3 million. They said that during last four and a half years, more than 3,000 students took admission and the institution earned around Rs2.5 billion as course fee. Out of the total amount, the institution apparently transferred some 4 million UK pounds to Lancaster University illegally.

The students are still in a lurch and undergoing a state of mental torture after spending huge sum of money as course fee. On the other hand, the university administration is threatening the students, instead of consoling them and forcing them to accept a degree of Lancaster University which the court has declared just a piece of paper as it is not recognised by the HEC.

The students also appealed to the LHC Chief Justice and Punjab Government to take notice of the issue so that future of hundreds of students could be secured.