Son of jailed ex-VC Sargodha University found as HEC defaulter

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The former Vice Chancellor of Sargodha University Dr Akram Chaudhary is in jail facing a reference by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on various charges of abuse of authority, unlawful appointments and corruption in civil works. Now it turns out that his son Dr Safwan Akram is also a defaulter of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) for violating the terms of PhD scholarship at Cambridge University in UK. 

Dr Safwan Akram is listed in the HEC website as a defaulter of foreign scholarship bond, with his father as the guarantor. The scholarship was awarded in January 2007 for the University of Cambridge under the project titled ‘Overseas Scholarship for MS/MPhil Leading to PhD in selected field Phase-II’.

“After completion of PhD degree, he started the Post-Doc at the same University and not returned to Pakistan,” the notice issued by HEC on its website reads.

The HEC website lists 70 such awardees as defaulters under the Phase-II of the PhD scholarship program, which is now put on hold. Each defaulter’s name and photograph, with specific charges available on clicking the name, is available for public information.

The link for Dr Safwan Akram is: http://hec.gov.pk/english/scholarshipsgrants/OSSP/Pages/Dr–Muhammad-Safwan-Akram.aspx

According to HEC rules, scholars are required to return to Pakistan immediately upon completing their studies to serve in the country for a period of five years.

“Dr Safwan Akram did not fulfill his moral, ethical and legal obligation to serve in Pakistan for a period of five years,” the notice says.

The HEC has initiated legal proceedings to recover over Rs 22 million (GBP 119,820) against Dr Safwan Akram, who is presently serving as a Senior Lecturer in Microbiology at the Teesside University, UK.

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Since his arrest in October 2018, Dr Akram Chaudhary had sought bail from the NAB Court Lahore and Lahore High Court but to no avail. His bail application is pending before the Supreme Court.

In the NAB reference, a major case against him and ex-Registrar of Sargodha University Brig (retd) Rao Jamil pertains to the establishment of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) sub-campuses in Lahore and Mandi Bahauddin.

In February, the four arrested officials of the management of these PPP sub-campuses were released from prison, after they entered a plea bargain with the NAB agreeing to pay Rs 110 million to University of Sargodha as unpaid dues and to PPP students as overcharged fees.