By Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: The Higher Education Commission of Pakistan, the prime regulatory body for higher education in the country, has formally confirmed to The News that the Monticello University, which had issued a doctorate degree to PPP Minister Babar Awan, is not an accredited university in the US.
It was never listed amongst the accredited institutions of post-secondary education in the US since 1994-95, the HEC said when asked to comment on the degree of Awan. Babar Awan, however, is of the firm opinion that he has a valid Ph.D degree and that he would continue using the title of “Dr” with his name.
Earlier, the United States Educational Foundation had clearly stated that the university was never accredited to offer any degree program. After the publication of The News story last Wednesday, which raised doubts about the minister’s doctorate degree, Awan said on Friday last, while showing his Monticello degree to a staffer of this newspaper, that according to The News report the said university was closed in 2000 while he got his degree in 1997.
To a question, the HEC said, “As per information contained in various editions of the Directory of Accredited Institutions of Post Secondary Education published by the American Council on Education after 1994-95, the said university is not listed.”
To another question whether a Ph.D degree from the Monticello University was recognised by the HEC, the government authority said, “The Higher Education Commission, Islamabad, recognizes Ph.D degrees awarded by accredited/chartered universities in the USA.”
The minister, who admits to have done his Ph.D from the University of Monticello, USA, in 1997-98 through its distant learning program, however, while talking to this correspondent last week insisted that his Ph.D was valid.
But the United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan is of the view that the “fraud” university was closed down in 2000 and was also fined US$1.7 million for fooling innumerable international aspirants of different degree programmes.