The foreign students' verdict in Pakistan
April 26(The News): Educational institutions in Australia, United Kingdom, United States and other
countries around the world are going out of their way to attract students from
other countries. Pakistan, however, is not a preferable educational destination
for foreign students but occasionally there are some students who do end up
coming. The University of Karachi (KU) is currently hosting about 250 foreign
students; a majority of them are from Somalia followed by Sudan, Jordan, Saudi
Arabia, Kuwait, Nepal, Bangladesh, USA, Denmark, Korea, Japan and India.
Those who can afford rented houses prefer them over the 'International
Hostel' of the university, which accommodates 43 foreign students. The actual
international hostel serves as the Rangers' headquarters.
Raza Khan, Chairman of the Department of English who is also the Foreign
Students Adviser, admitted that the number of foreign students at the university
has declined considerably. The reason for this could be attributed to the
declining educational standard in Pakistani educational institutions and the law
and order situation in the country. The prospective foreign students, especially
Muslim students are willing to come to Pakistan, but without much enthusiasm due
to the cold and unfriendly attitude meted out to them by the Pakistani
"I visited the Pakistani embassy in Nairobi to know find out
about procedures and possible admissions to Pakistani universities but the staff
wasn't very helpful. I almost abandoned the idea but my mother persisted and so
I am here," says Ahmed Majoo who is studying at the Faculty of Social Sciences.
"But now I'm happy that I came. Not only do I feel at home, people treat me
kindly," he says.
Neddal Ahmed, a Palestinian student, with a Jordanian
passport, is a 4th year student in the Faculty of Pharmacy. He says "I came to
Pakistan because the minimum percentage for admission to pharmacy is 80 per cent
and I had obtained 75 per cent. I was admitted here on the reserved seat for
foreigners," he says. One of the reasons he came to Pakistan to study is the
affordable educational costs. According to him, Jordanian universities are quite
expensive; one credit hour costs 85 Jordanian Dinars (85 Pak rupees).
Neddal is not happy with his living arrangement outside the campus. "The
only hostel for foreign students at KU is in a pathetic state and I am sharing
an apartment with another student in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, which is expensive, and
commuting to and fro the university is very tiring," he says.
Didar Ali, a student of pharmacy from Mauritius, said that she decided to study
in Karachi because she wanted a home away from home. Her Indian background
blends well with the local culture. She is critical of the facilities at the
Girls' Hostel though and hopes that the construction of the new hostel building
will bring the much-needed changes. On the whole, however, she says "I am
pleased to be in Pakistan. People are friendly and I feel secure
Salima Ahmed who is from Somalia and is also studying pharmacy,
says that she came here because universities back home do not offer pharmacy
programmes. A majority of students at KU are from Somalia as the country has
maximum number of seats. "It is a good university. I find the teachers
well-informed and the lectures engage students and are lively." she
Taj Karam, a student from Oman, said that she chose to come to
Pakistan herself. "I had three choices to study pharmacy. It was Pakistan,
Russia and Syria. In Syria lectures are delivered in Arabic. It is my mother
tongue but it will not help me if I want to pursue higher studies in a western
country. In Russia one has to learn the Russian language before the actual
commencement of courses. Here in Pakistan, lectures are in English and I am
closer to my country," she says.