Policy reforms required to improve academic rankings

Ahsan Jamil

THE PUNJAB University (PU) has sprinted ahead remarkably by notching up to the 15th slot among South Asian Universities and top of the rankings table in Pakistan, as per recently issued rankings by Cybermetrics Lab, Spanish research organization. More than 20,000 universities from around the world were scrutinized, evaluated on set criteria, and based on the overall aggregate PU emerged out as a strong contender that can compete with global academic players in terms of quality of education.

Dr. Mujahid Kamran, Vice Chancellor PU while giving remarks on splendid achievement of the university commended the efforts and contributions of faculty of PU, administrative staff and deemed that this remarkable achievement was a result of joint efforts and utmost hard work of the PU team. He further said that the PU is well cognized with areas that need improvement and mulls to further climb the ladder in order to become leading knowledge repository not only in the region but also in the world.

Dr. Atta ur Rehman, Senior Scientist and former Minister for Science and Technology and former Chairman Higher Education Commission (HEC) said while commenting on improvement of quality education, “In order to improve the quality of education, faculty strengthening must be emphasized and that can be attained by implementation of long lasting policies such as foreign scholarships programme must be started and each year at least 2000 of the flamboyant students from our country must be sent to leading universities of the world so that they return back and strengthen the university faculty in Pakistan. Moreover, bottom end of the education sector must also be escalated and balance of investment in education sector is required to extract maximum benefit”.

The government is primarily focusing to create enabling conditions for all segments of society in order to ensure universal literacy to fuel the knowledge based economy resolution. The setting up of science and technology parks, technology incubators, venture capital funds, industrial cluster in focal areas of engineering, biotechnology, water resource management, food security is largely required in order to perk up the academic potency, innovation and productivity of Pakistani universities. Although it is happening at a gradual pace but more funding is required in education sector to suffice the futuristic needs and cope with challenges.

Dr Abdul Basit, Chancellor Preston University said while talking to Technology Times, “The contributions of private sector universities in uplifting the quality of education in Pakistan are invincible. The government needs to take initiatives to financially aid the private HEIs because the chain of financial constraints must be broken in order to improve the quality of education, rankings so to deliver paramount education through state of the art facilities”.

An important conference on same theme was also held couple of months ago with the title Future Roadmap of Higher Education in which Vice Chancellors Committee (VCC) comprising of VCs from different universities gave their recommendations to competent authority for improvement of higher education sector. Those included reforms in higher education sector to improve faculty development, enrollment ratio. The recommendation suggested by VCC also entailed to focus on joint initiatives by universities for up gradation of curriculum and evaluation system, applied research. The creation of Research Endowment Fund to facilitate the principal investigators was the important suggestion chalked by the committee.

These steps would certainly improve the quality of education and performance of universities and score high points in order to rank up in global rankings. The improvement of Pakistani universities in global ratings not only will compel international universities to collaborate with Pak universities to initiate joint efforts in multiple areas but also give standing to academia of the country and set new standards and augment a competitive atmosphere which will nurture education quality consequently.

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