A professor, terminated two months ago, is suspected of allegedly leaking an exam paper to discredit Ajman University, a senior executive told Gulf News yesterday.

"Based on our initial investigations, it was crime perpetrated to harm the reputation of the institution," Osama Saeed Salman, Vice President for Information at the university, said. "The suspect is presently in police custody and investigations are underway."

He, however, said that no student managed to get hold of the paper. He was refuting claims that the paper was available in the market for Dh500. The accused printed a copy of the question paper and released it to a newspaper claiming the paper has been leaked, he said.

The subject of the examination was marketing, the department being the faculty of Information, Mass Communications and Public Relations. Salman said the university immediately cancelled the exam scheduled for June 16 and students were asked to write the exam yesterday.

Dr Esam El Din Agamy, Acting Dean of the faculty, said the paper was lifted from a course instructor's personal computer by the accused as he was allowed to stay with the university till the end of the academic term.

According to university regulations, course instructors are responsible for setting the exam papers, printing and photocopying them. Salman added the instructor found that he could not transfer the exam paper on a floppy.

"He did not inform the administration so that he could be assisted. So he is not considered to be at fault." About 60 students, including some from overseas, wrote the exams.

Dr Basheer Shehadeh, Vice President for Follow-up and Development Affairs, said a committee of the Academic Accreditation Agency, Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, met the university administration on the same day of the exam. The ministry reacted swiftly following a report in Al Ittihad.

The news came as a blow to several students. Many overseas students had to sit for the rescheduled exam and had to book their flights again, which are already running full due to summer holidays.

UAE national students blamed the university administration of negligence and said the incident could have been prevented.

Many students were seen scanning notes just before the exams outside the hall. "I am all set for the re-exam but it would have been disastrous if the fraud was not detected on time," said one student who did not wish to be identified.

Another student from Bahrain said: "We were shocked to hear the cancellation of the exam paper. We also had to reschedule our flights." A student from Saudi Arabia said: "Due to this I have lost my concentration."