HOUSE OF HABIB CONTRIBUTING TO THE CAUSE OF HIGHER EDUCATION

$100 million international university in the pipeline

AMANULLAH BASHAR
Nov 27 - Dec 03, 2006

House of Habib, a household name in Pakistan especially in financial sector, is establishing an international university focusing on Science & Technology Education offering undergraduate (Bachelors level) programs in the first stage.

Talking to Pakistan & Gulf Economist (PAGE), Wasif A. Rizvi, Group Director, Social Services/University Project by House of Habib, said that
the University would have programs in humanities, social sciences and management sciences, supplementing the science education.

Though the project was in its initial phase and expected to go into business by 2011, however, when come to operation, the University aims to match the best standards practiced in the country (LUMS, AKU etc.)

The University will be built on 200 acres of land being acquired in the designated Education City off Super Highway. Aga Khan University for capacity expansion, it may be noted, has chosen the site of Education City.

Wasif Rizvi, while outlining the broader aspects of the forthcoming institution, observed that the campus would be state-of-the-art institution, matching the best educational and residential facilities around the world.

Initially, a sum of $ 100 million is expected to be spent on building and other capital costs while the management is aiming to form partnerships, exchange programs and networks with the best in the world like the Cambridge University in England and the MIT in the US.

The University is also hoping to engage regional world class institutions like the Indian Institute of Technology (spread all over India), universities in Singapore, Philippines etc., Wasif said with a sense of confidence.

The University will commence few research centers in key areas to engage potential faculty from around the world, to develop research-based curriculum and to network with academic partners from around the world.

The University is expected to admit the first batch of students in 2010-11, said Wasif Rizvi.

In fact, the university being set up by the House of Habib seems to be part of the government plan to develop a strong educational base, which is the real way to ensure growth of knowledge-based economy.

In this respect, President Pervez Musharraf has also underscored the need for concerted efforts in scientific education to help Pakistan compete with technological advances in the world of fast-track economic development.

President Pervez Musharraf has recently declared about the setting up of nine new universities for engineering and science and technology across the country at a total cost of Rs 250 billion.

The President has also directed the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to move rapidly towards bringing these universities on ground in the shortest possible time. Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, NWFP Chief Minister Akram Khan Durrani, Higher Education Commission Chairman Dr Attaur Rahman, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Salman Shah, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Dr Akram Sheikh and other senior officials also attended the meeting.

It is a healthy sign that the present government is determined to utilize maximum resources to achieve the goal of quality education to take Pakistan forward on the path of progress and economic growth.

The quantum increase in the last budget allocation was from Rs 600 million to Rs 22 billion over the past six years.

He said that the nine world-class institutions that were being set up with the cooperation of developed countries would help create good quality manpower to meet the standards and global demands in the international market.

The President has already inaugurated one of the universities in Lahore; being set up in collaboration with Austria while Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz had laid the foundation stone of a university in Karachi to be set up with French collaboration. The government aims to launch academic sessions in these universities by 2007-8.

Meanwhile, Dr Ataur Rehman, who is the minister incharge of higher education has said that in order to produce quality graduates admissions to the universities would be on merit and that the government would encourage bright students through partial or full scholarships, especially those from the low-income strata.

Besides Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, other universities will be set up in Hyderabad, Peshawar, Multan, Sialkot, Faisalabad and one in the Balochistan province.

The nine universities are expected to produce 50,000 graduates and besides engineering and science and technology, these institutions will also focus on other basic sciences.

These universities will have a technological part and access to venture capital. He said that up to 4,500 graduates from these universities would be sent abroad for PhD program.

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