On Friday, President Dr. Arif Alvi ordered the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) to return $11,270, citing maladministration on the part of the university for unjustly withholding a student’s admission fees 15 years prior.

This order was made in response to a case that was first brought to his attention in 2022. President Alvi emphasized that as a federal institution, NUST is a governmental “Agency”, and not a private commercial entity, therefore, its actions of holding onto a student’s fees was an example of exploitation and improper practice.

The case in question involves a student who was accepted into the MBBS program on the Foreign SAT basis for the 2007 session at NUST. The student’s father, who is the complainant, paid an admission fee of $11,420. However, the student later gained admission into another medical university in Pakistan and sought a refund from NUST. NUST denied the request, citing its refund policy.

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Dissatisfied with this response, the complainant took the issue to the Wafaqi Mohtasib in 2008. The Mohtasib instructed NUST to refund the money, but NUST challenged this decision, failing to provide a legal justification for their refund policy or proof of financial loss due to the student’s decision to change universities. As such, NUST’s decision to keep the admission fee was deemed unfair.

NUST then took the matter to the Islamabad High Court in 2015, which asked the Mohtasib to make a reasoned decision on whether NUST had committed maladministration and whether it was a governmental “Agency”. The case was consequently sent back to the president for review.

In his decision, President Alvi explained that the student’s “provisional admission” could not be finalized and that another student had filled the spot vacated by the initial student. As a result, NUST effectively charged double for one seat, which is clearly an act of exploitation and malpractice. President Alvi concluded that NUST’s refusal to refund the admission fee in this case constitutes “forfeiture and confiscation”, which is not permissible unless supported by law.