|Graduation Day at NED Engineering University For 1300 Graduates in 2013|
|Source: UNESCO's Global Education Digest 2009|
Higher education in Pakistan has come a long way since its independence in 1947 when there was only one university, the University of Punjab. By 1997, the number of universities had risen to 35, of which 3 were federally administered and 22 were under the provincial governments, with a combined enrollment of 71,819 students. A big spending boost by President Pervez Musharraf helped establish 51 new universities and awarding institutions during 2002-2008. This helped triple university enrollment from 135,000 in 2003 to about 400,000 in 2008, according to Dr. Ata ur Rehman who led the charge for expanding higher education during Musharraf years. There are 161 universities with 1.5 million students enrolled in Pakistan as of 2014.
Former Chairman of HEC summed up the country's higher education progress well in a piece he wrote for The News in 2012: "Pakistan has achieved critical mass and reached a point of take-off. For this phenomenal growth to continue, it is important for the government and other stakeholders to support and further strengthen the HEC as a national institution and protect its autonomy. If this momentum continues for another 10 years, Pakistan is certain to become a global player through a flourishing knowledge economy and a highly literate population".
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