The government in an effort to develop higher education in Pakistan, has announced 8 projects worth Rs. 36 billion which will be geared towards establishing university sub campuses in smaller/remote districts, establish AJK Women University and run a PhD scholarship program.
This investment aims to tackle the issue of higher education institutions not being available in some of the most remotest corners of the country.
People from such remote areas, with no access to any university for several hundred kilometers, can benefit from sub-campuses as they are completed. For that purpose, the government has approved the establishment of sub campuses of universities in these districts in order to provide them access to higher education and thus, better employment opportunities.
Renewed Focus on Higher Education
The HEC has commissioned the creation of a task force for fostering “Higher Education and Employment” in Pakistan. The purpose of this task force is to align academic programs offered by the universities with the job market and regulate these different programs according to job opportunities, development priorities and research needs.
These are the 8 projects proposed by the HEC:
- The PhD scholarship program formed under the US-Pakistan Knowledge Corridor is worth Rs. 26.694 billion. It aims to educate 10,000 PhDs in a period of 10 years.
- The formation of sub campuses of universities in districts will cost Rs. 4.587 billion, as recommended to the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council.
- The establishment of AJK Women University will cost Rs. 886 million with an FEC of Rs. 131 million.
- Provision of new facilities and infrastructure for the main campus of University of Engineering and Technology Lahore, will cost Rs. 1.2 billion
- Academic and professional facilities will be strengthened for the University of Peshawar, will cost Rs. 820.63 million with an FEC of Rs. 489 million.
- Bahauddin Zakariya University will see the strengthening of its Institute of Biotechnology. It will cost Rs. 588 million with an FEC of Rs. 53 million.
- Expansion and reinforcement of the Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering and Management Sciences (BUITEMS) will be done. The project will cost Rs. 1 billion
- Academic and Research programs will receive strengthening for the National University of Modern Languages (NUML), costing as much as Rs. 747 million with an FEC of Rs. 302 million.
Professor Ahsan Iqbal impressed upon cost rationalization while ensuring that the standard of education does not drop for the NUML project.
These projects will go a long way in addressing the woefully low level of higher education in the country. However, for these projects to be successful, producing a certain number of PhDs is not the way. For those PhDs to be truly meaningful, we need to bring up the research standards in the country, so that people also have a career path to pursue should they opt for continuing their post doctorate studies here.
The case of a rector of a university who was dismissed on the grounds of submitting a plagiarized thesis, is a symptom of the existing state of affairs, which is dismal to say the least. If the standard of higher education is not brought in line with international norms, meritorious students have no other option but to pursue their studies abroad, thus leaving Pakistan with a brain drain. These are the people we need in industry positions in R&D that utilize their knowledge and ensure that Pakistan also continues to push innovation forward.
The challenges are many and difficult, and it is up to the people at the helm of affairs to take a long hard look at the dismal state of affairs and make the corrective measures that lay emphasis on the qualitative aspects of higher education instead of the quantitative.