Feb 27 - Mar 4, 20

The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has ranked University of Health Sciences (UHS) as the 'No.1' public sector medical university of Pakistan, with overall 8th position amongst 136 public and private sector universities of the country.

In the first-ever national academic ranking of the universities that was made public by the HEC last week, UHS is on overall second position in the category of medical and health sciences higher education institutions, Aga Khan University Karachi -a private sector institution- being the first.

UHS is now one of the 'Top 10' universities of Pakistan with Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad at first and Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) at 10th position.

The other universities in the category included Dow University of Health Sciences Karachi, King Edward Medical University Lahore, Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences Jamshoro, Khyber Medical University Peshawar, Baqai Medical University Karachi, Ziauddin Medical University Karachi, Peoples University of Medical and Health Sciences for Women Nawabshah, and Shaheed Mohtarma Banazir Bhutto Medical University Larkana.

The ranking model has been developed by HEC's Quality Assurance Committee (QAC) through extensive stakeholder participation, tailoring the process according to the ground realities of the higher education sector in Pakistan. Various leading international ranking practices and systems have also been analyzed.

The ranking is based on the number of students, research productivity and quality, innovation and knowledge transfer, infrastructure, annual graduate output, international collaborations, student satisfaction and financial health of the institution.

The basic objective of the rankings is to enhance international competition of universities in order to create attractive educational multi-cultural environments and the trend towards university collaboration and most importantly the opportunity to improve and eliminate institutional weaknesses.

According to the statistical analysis done by HEC, UHS has 519 postgraduate and 15,620 undergraduate students enrolled and 39,562 students registered with it. The university has 187 research publications to its credit in high impact international journals during last 5 years. In last one year only, the work done by its researchers has been cited in 62 international articles. Overall student satisfaction rate with regards to teaching and facilities, has been calculated as 88 per cent. University spends more than 10 per cent of its annual budget on research and innovation. It has developed very fruitful international research collaborations with 13 foreign universities and 18 of its students are doing PhD in top universities of the world. It has produced 8 PhDs and 241 MPhils in last 5 years.

UHS offers 71 postgraduate and 25 undergraduate courses. It conducts an average of 170 examinations every year in which 40,314 candidates are evaluated. It has 85 colleges and institutes affiliated with it. The university has a huge endowment fund exceeding one billion rupees.

UHS has sufficient IT infrastructure with a wireless network coverage of 80 per cent. It has recently been awarded 'Best Educational Institute in Asia Award' by World Education Congress.

While congratulating the faculty and staff on this achievement, UHS Vice Chancellor Prof. Malik Hussain Mubbashar paid tribute to their devotion, enthusiasm and commitment. He urged them to take university to new heights avoiding complacency trap.

"We would focus on the quality of student learning and on innovation in both academic and administrative pursuits," he said adding that UHS had to become a launching pad for the inventions and creative ideas born in its labs, to translate into technologies and industrial products, to reach the grass roots.

Prof. Mubbashar further said that the potential for advances in health research was quite promising. He added that the main target of the university was to establish an institute of research excellence this year, in collaboration with University of Liverpool, to develop a cohort of scientists who would carry on translational and clinical research in cancers, obesity, genetics, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, biomedical engineering, neuro-sciences, and infectious diseases.

According to Chairperson Higher Education Commission (HEC) Dr. Javaid R. Laghari, the primary purpose of the ranking exercise is to share with the public a comprehensive data on the key issues that determine the state of higher education in a particular institution. Institutions established after December 2008 as well as distance education universities are excluded from the ranking lists.

Dr. Laghari said that ranking is a quality indicator and this information will help shed light on key indicators of higher education institutions in Pakistan to allow students, parents, potential employers and all other stakeholders to make informed decisions regarding higher education institutions. "It will also provide a transparent mechanism to universities on how they compare against their peers, and will inculcate a spirit of competition to raise the standard of education. The activity will also help promote a culture of participation in the world university rankings, which will help significantly in reflection of Pakistan's higher education development at the international level," he said.

Ranking criteria for the universities include student intake as well as graduates produced at BS, MS and PhD levels, number of qualified faculty members, student-teacher ratio, quality of research produced and published in journals of international repute, physical and technological infrastructure, international collaborations, resource generation and sports facilities.

Initiative of QS world university ranking was taken up by HEC with the objective to promote a culture of participation in the world university rankings for getting reasonable reflection of higher education development in the country.

Keeping in view the national context and problems faced by the universities in Pakistan, the primarily identified QS world ranking criteria was amended as per feedback received from the higher education institutions.

The universities have been ranked specifically by category/area of specialization to make it logical. The sector-wise sorting has not been done to provide equal reflection to both the public and private sector institutions. Universities can only be comparable within the assigned category. Comparisons to be made among different categories based on the above list will not be logical.