|Top 500 Asian Universities. Source: QS University Rankings 2019|
In terms of the number of universities ranking in Asia's top 500, Pakistan with its 23 universities ranks second in South Asia and 7th among 17 Asian nations topped by China with 112, Japan 89, India 75, South Korea 57, Taiwan 36, Malaysia 26, Pakistan 23, Indonesia 22, Thailand 19, Philippines 8, Hong Kong 7, Vietnam 7, Bangladesh 6, Sri Lanka 4, Singapore 3, Macao 2 and Brunei 2.
National University of Singapore ranked number one in Asia followed by University of Hong Kong and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Tsinghua University and Peking University—both from China—round off the top five list in Asia.
|Pakistani Universities Ranked Among QS Asia Top 500. Source: QS Top Universities 2019|
Pakistan's Top Universities:
National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) is the top ranked university in Pakistan in QS Asia University Rankings 2019. NUST has moved up from 91st to 87th position. The second ranked university in Pakistan is Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) at 95th position in the Asian ranking. These are the only two Pakistani universities ranked among the top 100 in the QS Asia University Rankings 2019. By contrast, India has 8 universities ranked among Asia's top 100. My alma mater NED University of Engineering and Technology is ranked 15th among Pakistan's 23 universities included in Asia's top 500 for 2019.
|Top 15 Asian Nations Publishing Research. Source: SCIMAGO|
Pakistan has emerged as the country with the highest percentage of Highly Cited Papers compared with the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) in the last 10 years, according to Thomson Reuters. Pakistan has doe so despite the fact that its "R&D environment faced substantial economic challenges".
|Source: Thomson Reuters|
In a report titled "Pakistan: Another BRIC in the Wall", author Lulian Herciu says that Pakistan’s scientific productivity has quadrupled, from approximately 2,000 articles per year in 2006 to more than 9,000 articles in 2015. During this time, the number of Highly Cited Papers featuring Pakistan-based authors increased tenfold, from 9 articles in 2006 to 98 in 2015.
|Source: Thomson Reuters|
The Thomson Reuters report has found that, in 2012, "Pakistan's normalized Citation Impact was higher than that of all of the BRIC nations".
In 2014, Pakistan became the first Asian country and only the third in the world after Turkey and Serbia to be honored with CERN's associate membership. The status of associate member is a step before full membership. As an associate member, Pakistan is entitled to attend open and restricted sessions of the organization.
College and University Enrollment:
There are over 3 million students enrolled in grades 13 through 16 in Pakistan's 1,086 degree colleges and 161 universities, according to Pakistan Higher Education Commission report for 2013-14. The 3 million enrollment is 15% of the 20 million Pakistanis in the eligible age group of 18-24 years. In addition, there are over 255,000 Pakistanis enrolled in vocational training schools, according to Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA).
|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.
Rise of research and publications at Pakistani universities began during Musharraf years when the annual budget for higher education increased from only Rs 500 million in 2000 to Rs 28 billion in 2008, to lay the foundations of the development of a strong knowledge economy, according to former education minister Dr. Ata ur Rehman. Student enrollment in universities increased from 270,000 to 900,000 and the number of universities and degree awarding institutions increased from 57 in 2000 to 137 by 2008. Government R&D spending jumped seven-fold as percentage of GDP from 0.1% of GDP in 1999 to 0.7% of GDP in 2007. It has since declined as percentage of GDP.
British ranking agency Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) has ranked 23 Pakistani universities among the top 500 Asian universities for 2019, up from 16 in 2018. Other South Asian universities figuring in the QS top universities report are 75 from India, 6 from Bangladesh and 4 from Sri Lanka. Pakistani scientists and researchers are continuing to produced highly cited research in spite of serious economic and security challenges. Enrollment in higher education is rising and giving a boost to academic research. With better policy focus and more investment in higher education, Pakistan can make an even greater impact with its young demographics.
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