May 22 - May 28, 2006

Bahria University becomes the first educational institution in Pakistan and 6th in the region to have engaged with global giants like Intel, Acer and Bank of Punjab to provide 4500 Bahria-specific laptop operating under a wireless environment at the campus. University's Pro Vice-Chancellor Admiral M Afzal Tahir NI(M) graced the occasion.

This is by no means a small achievement in just 6 years of existence for any institution. More of such initiatives have made Bahria a centre of attraction for the students and the businesses alike.

Bahria University started its journey as a federally chartered institution with President of Pakistan as its Chancellor and Chief of the Naval Staff as the Pro Vice Chancellor. Vice Admiral (retd) M M Biabani was the founder Rector, followed by Vice Admiral (retd) Feyyaz-ur-Rehman. Vice Admiral Farooq Rashid took over from him on 8 February 2006.

In relation with the above-mentioned deal, Rector Bahria University visited UAE recently to work out the details with Acer's Regional Head Office. Following are the excerpts from his interview with the journalists present on the occasion:

Question: I understand that the initial requirement from the university was for 200 desktops. 4,500 laptops is a significant increase on that initial figure - what convinced you that this was the right course of action for the University?

"Actually, I think we started at 17 units then went to 100, then 200 and then beyond!

While having only been in this office for three months the first thing I did, on arrival, was a SWOT [strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats] analysis and identified a number of areas where the university could grow and IT was a clear area where by upgrading its infrastructure we would produce an improvement in both students' facilities yet would also facilitate an improvement in the overall curriculum offered by the university.

It was clearly part of my strategy to see words and plans turned into action as soon as possible and while the numbers discussed may appear a bold step and a drastic change in our original requirement, it was made clear from our own investigations as well as discussing the possibilities with Acer, that the right step to achieve our long-term strategic goals would be better achieved through dynamism not procrastination.

Working closely with the Bank of Punjab, we then agreed almost immediately that a finance deal would be structured so that the university could incorporate the amount into student fees and paid on an ongoing basis thereby permitting such huge numbers and all students to benefit immediately rather than gradually.

When I arrived I also worked with advisors and staff at the university on a "list of impossibilities". This was drawn up to identify how far we could push the university in a short amount of time.

That list included having each student owning a notebook computer, having the university go paperless within 12 months and becoming a top three University in Asia in the next five years. Therefore to date, we are already clearly ahead of schedule on all aims."

Question: How do you think that this unique deal will not only alter the way in which the students study but change forever the dynamic of the university's learning environment?

"I would look at this point in three ways:

Firstly, we have now moved to a paperless, e-university environment, which means that all lectures, assignments and other more traditional administrative functions have gone digital - making huge savings on the University and student.

Secondly, by providing a notebook to each student at the university we hope to be able to provide students with the tools to train on and implement real world solutions for when students are out in the world of work.

We share a value with Acer in that, at the university, we are always talking of empowerment of the student and by providing the right 'empowering' tools this can not only change an individual - but the whole attitude of the university.

Thirdly, it clearly builds the brand of the university as a contemporary, wireless e-learning environment. Therefore, this deal, and in particularly our commitment to improving the IT infrastructure, serves as a "jump-start" to the University and brings it to the forefront of educational standards and as such puts us in a position to become one of the top three Higher Education (HE) establishments in Asia."

Those who like to know what else is being achieved at Bahria University, following are some of the glimpses:

* Taking lead in recognising the importance of social aspect of education whereby degree award has been linked with community work by the students.

* Re-tailoring HRM for more efficient and dynamic processes.

* Rationalising the curriculum with the aim to impart education that works.

* Facilitating students in discovering their individual strengths so that they can capitalise on them in their respective careers.

* Allowing the students to develop themselves as real smart team members.

* Creating learner-centric environment.

* Collaborating with the foreign centres of excellence abroad.

* Helping good students to obtain internship abroad.

In short, Bahria University today acts as the spring board for our intelligent, enthusiastic, go-getter agile youth through a comprehensive educational continuum in the e-learning domain.