STUDENTS, whose Master’s course was discontinued due to violations committed by a private university, will undergo two additional academic semesters in another university to obtain their degree.
This is the criteria set by the Higher Education Council (HEC) if any of the 140 students from the Arab Open University opt to transfer to another university to complete their degree.
It also confirmed that if the students choose to leave then the university will have to refund them for fees they already paid.
The GDN previously reported that the university’s licence to teach the Business Master’s Programme (MBA) was revoked on July 29 and had an agreement that allowed the Bahrain branch to host the programme in co-operation with the Malaysian Open University cancelled because of violations that amounted to “suspected crimes”.
The HEC had found that the university’s Bahrain branch assigned a dead professor to oversee the degree’s thesis process, maintained his name on the dissertations, falsified his attendance at the jury discussions and even processed the payment of his dues.
The students told the GDN that some of them only have one semester left to graduate before the course was suspended – adding that the university has still not responded to their queries while admission for other programmes has already started.
“The law stipulates academic and administrative terms regulating the transfer of students from one university to another as well as the equation of courses,” said the HEC in a statement to the GDN.
“When a student is transferred the number of transferred credit hours shall not exceed 66 per cent of the required overall number of credit hours to obtain the first degree.
“This means that the transferred students shall attend at least two academic terms at the new university – that is a minimum of 30 credit hours.
“The qualifications which were previously accredited by the HEC are valid as long as they are not dismissed as being fake.
“In case students choose to leave then the university has to refund the fees they paid for the course, in compliance with the academic and administrative regulations.”
However, the students said they were still unsure of their future – claiming that their case was being overshadowed by a nationwide scandal over fake degrees.
The government last week ordered an investigation into allegations that a large number of private and public sector employees hold fake degrees from fictitious universities.
Reports have surfaced that many teachers, engineers, doctors, IT specialists and human resources directors of different nationalities used fake Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees to secure important positions.
“Our situation has escalated from bad to worse in light of the recent scandals of the fake certificates in the GCC,” said Bahraini student Safana Al Kater.
“The HEC continues to face this scandal and has somehow alienated our case.
“We are waiting in limbo for any new information from both the HEC and the university.
“We are concerned that our situation will be taken as an opportunity to steer the scandal of fake certificates even more.
“Our situation is very different and we demand that we receive a guarantee from the HEC about our future.”
Her comments were reiterated by other Master’s students, who claimed they have been at the receiving end of contradictory statements from both the HEC and the university.
“Students are still awaiting responses from both the HEC and the university, while the latter said they would get back to us this week,” said Bahraini Nedhal Ahmed.
“The HEC, meanwhile, holds its previous stance that the students shouldn’t register until they have a go-ahead from the HEC – everyone has something at stake.
“There are students who were close to graduating, some of them have already submitted their Master’s project proposals, some will be doing it this semester and then there are those who have only a couple of subjects remaining to graduate.
“This degree means promotions for some, pursuing new opportunities for others, and acquisition of new skills required and in demand by the labour market.
“If this MBA programme is stalled, it would be a great disappointment to many – we feel that our problems are not being dealt with on priority and feel stuck between the university and HEC.”
University officials could not be reached for comment.