18 varsities set-up in three years

ISLAMABAD, Oct 27: The government has set-up 18 universities in different parts of the country to enhance access of students to higher education during last three years.

Of the total, nine universities were established in public sector and the same number of universities were set-up in private sector, said a latest data available.

It said students enrolment in universities and degree awarding institutes has witnessed 60 per cent increase and efforts are also afoot to raise project access to higher education further in the years to come which has reached around 3.8 per cent.

Besides setting-up new varsities, 15 new campuses of the seven public sector universities were also opened and 23 new and advanced disciplines such as proteomics, genomics, bio-informatics, space science and avionics, earthquake engineering, machtronics and material chemistry were launched at various universities.

The data shows that the government is also in process of setting-up nine universities of engineering, science and technology with international collaborations to bridge the gap between the existing set up in Pakistan and the internationally accredited standards of engineering universities.

Four of these universities are expected to commence MS Engineering Programmes in 2008 at Lahore, Sialkot, Karachi and Muridkey.

During the period around 2340 scholarships were granted under 21 different scholarship schemes for PhD studies abroad in different countries. Of the total, 1287 successful candidates are already abroad and getting education at universities in Austria, France, Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, China, UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand and Korea.

Similarly, during the period 2861 scholarships under Indigenous Ph.D programme were awarded and these students are currently pursuing PhD studies all across Pakistan in public sector universities.

Around 237 highly qualified foreign professions including 92 foreign nationals have been hired under Foreign Faculty Program during last three years and placed on long-term assignments across the country.

Additionally, 175 foreign professions are working on short-term assignments.

The government also launched 133 mega projects costing over Rs. 70 billion in the fields of engineering, agriculture, medical sciences, social and basic sciences.

During the period mentioned above, 200 projects costing over Rs. 36 billion were launched for improving library facilities, IT and networking infrastructure, transport, lab equipments, sports facilities and students services.

In order to promote, university-industry linkages, the government approved 14 projects.

Furthermore, Higher Education Commission (HEC) and Competitive Support Fund (CSF) are also collaborating to promote knowledge based enterprise sector involving private sector and Pakistani universities in commercially viable research projects under a shared financing arrangement.

Ranking of universities and degree awarding institutions has been launched to promote sense of competition and create awareness about the quality of institutions.

The data further shows 18 universities have been connected through Video Conferencing Facility to promote interactive distant learning, interactive meeting and interviews, international E-Conferences and live events through video conferencing arrangement.

Through this facility, students can also benefit from lecture of high profile national and international professionals.

Moreover, 63 universities and degree awarding universities have been connected on Pakistan Education and Research Network (PERN) through optical fiber.

The government also initiated E-Book Support Program and over 40000 electronic books of world's leading publishers have been acquired to cater for the specific needs of the universities. -App

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