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Foreign universities set up plan finally abandoned

Plan to set up foreign varsities shelved
Islamabad, Jan 02: The government has finally abandoned the visionary programme of four world-class foreign universities that were to be established in partnership with foreign countries, learnt reliably.

It is a great pity that this program of huge national significance has been abandoned at this stage since consortia of top foreign universities have already been formed in Germany, Italy, Austria and China. In the case of the Pakistan-China University even the rector and senior Chinese faculty members have been selected. It will also be the source of a major international embarrassment if we withdraw at this late stage.

The establishment of Engineering, Science & Technology Universities in Pakistan (UESTP's) brought enormous criticism to the former chairman of Higher Education Commission, Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman for envisaging this programme without understanding the various aspects of the programme.

Pakistani parents spend about Rs 80 billion annually to send their children abroad to obtain quality higher education. Thus over 11,000 visas were granted last year by the British High Commission for students to study in British Universities. This program would not only have saved much of this huge drain on our foreign exchange but also attracted many students to Pakistan from the Middle East, as they would have been able to get degrees from top foreign universities without ever going abroad.

The hearts of these universities were the technology parks. About half the area of each university had been set aside for the technology parks. Arrangements had been made with the foreign partners to establish the R&D Centres of their top companies in the technology parks of these universities.

Projects of the establishment of 4 world-class universities in partnership with consortia of top universities in Germany, Italy, Austria and China were approved by ECNEC in February 2008 at a cost of about Rs. 160 billion. These universities of Engineering, Science and Technology would have offered BS, MS and Ph.D. courses and degrees of the foreign universities would have been awarded in Pakistan.

This visionary program would have allowed Pakistani students to obtain world class foreign education without going to foreign countries. Approved by ECNEC in February 2008, the projects were again presented to the Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on May 12, 2008. The Prime Minister approved the implementation of this program and gave necessary directions.

The Prime Minster was pleased to agree to the implementation of the four ECNEC approved UESTPs including Pak-China, Pak-German, Pak-Austria and Pak-Italian Universities in accordance with the phasing approved by ECNEC. On May 19, however, the Cabinet froze the program and decided to form a four-member committee comprising Begum Shehnaz Wazir Ali,. Salman Farooqui Former Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Jahangir Bashar ,Secretary Education and Hina Rabbani Khar. The Cabinet Committee recommended to the cabinet that the program should be implemented but at a reduced cost of 72 billion instead of the original cost of about 160 billion with a correspondingly reduced number of students. The Cabinet has however not so far taken any decision in this matter but instead decided in its meeting in Lahore that the provinces should also be consulted. The provinces have already allocated several billion worth of rupees of land and have strongly supported the establishment of these universities.

Pakistan has not succeeded in establishing a single international R&D Centre during the last 60 years, whereas India and China have hundreds. Through this programme, each of these universities would have had 15-20 R&D Centres of top foreign companies like Siemens, Eriksson and many others had agreed thereby bringing us to the forefront of new technology development.

These universities were therefore being set up not just to educate Pakistanis and produce more engineering graduates although these are desperately needed, we produce only engineering graduates annually as compared to 420,000 produced by India, but to engineer Pakistan.

One of the main criticisms against them was that these universities were extremely expensive. The costs of each project were comparable the costs of setting up a Pakistani university such as NUST. There were no "luxuries", the construction costs were those normally accepted by Planning, ranging from Rs. 1500 per sq ft to 2500 per sq ft, depending on the nature of the building. The Nation

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Perveen Qadir appointed IIU director
Islamabad: Begum Perveen Qadir Agha joined her new assignment as Director Women Campus at International Islamic University, Islamabad (IIUI) here Thursday. In her new job, she would look over the developments of over 5,000 women students of IIUI from across 50 countries as well as women faculty members.

Perveen Qadir Agha has an enviable record of public service as the federal secretary of Women Development, Social Welfare, and Special Education (2001-2003) and secretary Population Division.

She also functioned as the judicial member of Federal Board of Revenue as well as chairman Income Tax Settlement Commission (1999-2001).

After retirement, she was appointed member National Commission for Government Reforms and member Academic Council Fatima Jinnah Women University. She is also member Board of Governors as well as member Syndicate of FJWU.

Perveen Agha holds LLM degree from Harvard University. Earlier, she studied Political Science and Law at Punjab University and also came out first Class first in International Relations. The News

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