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CIIT Rector’s Phd degree cancelled over plagiarism

By Waseem Abbasi
June 08, 2016

ISLAMABAD: The PhD degree of Comsats Institute of Information Technology (CIIT) pro-rector  Haroon Rashid has been cancelled by the Preston University, Islamabad, after a through probe confirmed that doctoral thesis submitted by him was upto 72 % plagiarised.

A senior official of Preston University told The News on Tuesday that the Phd degree of “Dr” Haroon Rashid who is also the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of National Testing Service (NTS) has been cancelled with immediate effect by the university.

According to sources in HEC, Haroon Rashid is also facing dismissal from CIIT under the Anti-Plagirism policy. The commission will soon write to CIIT to implement the policy in letter and spirit, sources added.

On Friday last week, Islamabad High Court had dismissed a petition by Haroon Rashid challenging the Higher Education Commission’s probe into his alleged plagiarised doctoral thesis.

“We have acted under the Anti-Plagirism policy of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) which states that the degree of a student will be cancelled if major plagiarism is proven against the person,” the official said.

HEC had initiated probe against Rashid last year. The Quality Assurance department of HEC wrote letter to CIIT Rector Dr SM Zaidi in September 2015 to probe the plagiarism case as per policy within 90 days and share the outcome with the commission.

According to HEC letter thesis submitted by “Dr” Haroon Rashid for his Phd degree in Computer sciences in 2006was up to 72 per cent plagiarized as per initial probe. The thesis, titled ‘Parallel Scientific Applications Scheduling on Distributed Computing System’, was submitted to Preston University in 2006.

The HEC Quality Assurance (QA) Division used plagiarism detection software ‘Turnitin’. CIIT subsequently sent the case to degree awarding institution which was Preston University in Haroon Rashid’s case.

A four-member body was formed by Preston University, Islamabad to investigate the matter. Meanwhile NTS chief moved the Islamabad High Court to bar the probe panel from submitting its report to HEC.

The panel later submitted its report to IHC confirming the offence of plagiarism by NTS chief. Subsequently the IHC vacated the stay order. According to the report, most of the content of thesis was lifted from the original thesis of Rafiqul Zaman Khan submitted at Hamdard University in New Delhi, India in the PhD programme in 2004 titled ‘Empirical Study of Task Partitioning, Scheduling and Load Balancing Strategies for Distributed Images of Computing System’.

  IHC Chief Justice Muhammad Anwar Khan Kasi dismissed Haroon Rashid’s petition last week, observing that it was “devoid of merits”. The chief justice dismissed all the applications submitted in the case and also recalled the stay order.

While contacted for comments earlier Dr Haroon denied plagiarism allegations saying the HEC software can’t take into account the huge data available online in current age. “If something is published in newspaper and become public knowledge the software will declare it plagiarized content while in reality it is not”.

He also contended that he could not be punished under HEC’s plagiarism policy as his thesis was submitted in 2006 while the policy was introduced 10-month later in 2007.