Information Commission Orders Swift Action on HEC Scholarship Misuse | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

Information Commission Orders Swift Action on HEC Scholarship Misuse

Pakistan Press Foundation

On July 5, the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) mandated the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to accelerate and finalize measures against the misuse of scholarships and breaches of public trust. This directive responds to an appeal by citizen Azmat Khan, urging immediate governance actions.

Khan’s appeal requests a detailed list of scholars who traveled abroad on HEC scholarships from January 1, 2013, to December 31, 2023. The list should distinguish between M.Phil and PhD scholars, identify those who failed to return or complete their studies within the stipulated time, and detail actions taken against them by the HEC.

In its defense, HEC cited Section 7(g) of the Right of Access to Information (RTI) Act, 2017, arguing that disclosing such information could lead to harassment, especially of female scholars. Instead, HEC provided cumulative statistics, revealing that 3,001 scholars went abroad on scholarships during the specified period. Of these, 1,126 successfully completed their studies, 1,810 are still pursuing their education, and 65 scholars failed to return after completing or not completing their programs.

HEC expressed concerns about scholars who did not complete their degree programs or return, stating that legal proceedings have been initiated against them. Efforts to recover government funds are ongoing, with significant recoveries already made.

The PIC emphasized the importance of addressing the breach of trust and misuse of public funds. It directed the Chairman of HEC to finalize these actions and submit a comprehensive report to the Commission, underscoring the commitment to transparency, accountability, and good governance as outlined in the RTI Act, 2017.

Khan highlighted the need for transparency in managing scholarships, as public funds are being utilized. The PIC’s order represents a significant move to address these concerns, ensuring that the HEC’s scholarship program maintains its integrity and serves its intended purpose. The directive requires the HEC to provide a detailed timeline for actions taken against those who misused scholarships and to submit a comprehensive report on the final actions to the PIC.

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