Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Pak-Austria Fachhochschule: One More Step Toward Building Knowledge Economy in Pakistan

Pak-Austria Fachhochschule Institute of Applied Sciences and Technology (PAF-IAST) campus is ready to open in Haripur, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. It represents one more step toward building Pakistan's knowledge economy and growing high-value technology-based exports. Pakistan is collaborating with several countries, including the United States and China, to build up high-skills education capacity in the country. Early progress is confirmed by a Nature magazine report that Pakistan's scientific output is growing at the fastest rate in the world. Pakistan's high-tech exports are relatively low but surging by double digits, according to the State Bank of Pakistan.

Pak-Austria Fachhochschule (PAF-IAST) Campus, Haripur, Pakistan

21st Century Workforce:

Pakistan's economy is rapidly transforming from traditional agriculture to modern business and industry.  Accelerating penetration of smartphones, personal computers, flat screens, mobile broadband, indoor plumbing, motorized vehicles, home appliances, air-conditioners, tractors, tube-wells, advanced construction machines and  solar and other technology-based products and services requires a highly skilled workforce to design, manufacture, market, sell, operate and service.

Building this new highly skilled workforce must begin with designing curricula and facilities. It also demands a new crop of trainers and educators and closer collaboration between academia and industry.


PAF-IAST aspires to be a leader in delivering effective education for the 21st century workforce. Currently, only 18% of Pakistanis and 19% of Indians under the age of 24 have the skills required for 21st century jobs, according to a United Nations and Business Coalition for Education study. It's the percentage of all school age children on track to complete secondary AND reach the learning benchmarks spelled out  by National Achievement Test (NAT) 2016 for Pakistan  and NCERT 2017 for India.

Built in collaboration with the Austrian government, Pak-Austria Fachhochschule (PAF-IAST), Haripur will offer specialized courses in artificial intelligence, railway engineering, mining, agriculture, food technologies and other fields. “Set in middle of the campus is natural lake, fed by the springs of surrounding mountains. The campus is just a 3-kilometer drive from the Hazara Motorway,” according to PAF-IAST.


National University of Technology (NUTech), an institution similar to PAF-IAST and chartered institution of higher learning, was launched in Islamabad in 2018.

NUTech will not only produce hands-on engineers and scientists but it will also serve as an umbrella organization for training skilled technicians and tradespeople to build, service and maintain advanced technology-based plant and equipment.

NUTech will work with a national network of technical and vocational training institutes to produce skilled workers.  It will include representatives of business and industry in design of curricula to ensure these workers meet the needs of the industry.

National University of Technology (NUTech) Campus in Islamanad

Specialized Institutions:

Pakistan Air Force's Air University, established in 2002, is an example of a specialized institution aimed at developing human capital in the aviation sector.

Development of a new advanced fighter is a wide-ranging effort that will encompass building human capital in a variety of fields including material science, physics, electronics, computer science, computer software, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, avionics, weapons design, etc.

Air University has added a new campus in Kamra Aviation City. The university already offers bachelor's master's and doctoral degrees in several subjects. Pakistan Air Force Chief Sohail Aman told Quwa Defense News that the campus will “provide the desired impetus for cutting-edge indigenization programs, strengthen the local industry and harness the demands of foreign aviation industry by reducing … imports and promoting joint research and production ventures.”

Higher Education in Pakistan:

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
Pakistani universities have been producing over half a million graduates, including over 10,000 IT graduates, every year since 2010, according to HEC data. The number of university graduates in Pakistan increased from 380,773 in 2005-6 to 493,993 in 2008-09. This figure is growing with rising enrollment and contributing to Pakistan's growing human capital.

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. As of 2019, there are 174 universities in the country.

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".


Pakistan is expanding science and technology education with institutions like PAF-IAST and NUTech. These represent progress toward building Pakistan's knowledge economy and grow high-value technology-based exports. Pakistan is collaborating with several countries, including the United States and China, to build up high-skills education capacity in the country. Early progress is confirmed by a Nature magazine report that Pakistan's scientific output is growing at the fastest rate in the world. Pakistan's high-tech exports are relatively low but surging by double digits, according to the State Bank of Pakistan.

Here's an introductory video about Pak-Austria Fachhochschule Institute of Applied Sciences and Technology (PAF-IAST) Pakistan:

Related Links:

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Artificial Intelligence Development at NED Engineering University

Pakistan's Computer Services Exports Surging

Pakistan's Scientific Output Growth Fastest in the World

How Grim is the State of Social Sector in Pakistan?

10 Pakistan Universities Among Top 300 in Asia

Pakistan's Growing Human Capital

History of Literacy in Pakistan

Education Attainment in South Asia

Dr. Ata ur Rehman Defends HEC Reforms

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Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel


Iftekhar H. said...

This is the way to go ................. wage peaceful & non-violent jihad in acquiring KNOWLEDGE...............
It's not important what sect of Islam you belong to.................

Anwar K. said...

Indeed. Green sprouts are shooting, MA.

Riaz Haq said...

On September 17, a historic event occurred. The prime minster of Pakistan inaugurated a beautiful campus of Pakistan’s first foreign engineering university, the Pak-Austria Fachhochschule, in Haripur Hazara, about 40 miles from Islamabad.

By Dr. Ata ur Rehman

The university has a lake and is surrounded by beautiful undulating hills with wild flowers and medicinal plants growing on them. It is the first university in Asia, and possibly in the world in which eight leading engineering universities in Austria and China have come together as partners. These include three Austrian Universities of Applied Science and Engineering (Fachhochschule) and five Chinese universities that are leaders in their respective disciplines.

Pakistani students will thus have the opportunity to benefit from lectures and courses of these foreign universities, and some will even get degrees from those universities. A dream that I had dreamt for the last 15 years has at last come true and a wonderful beginning has been made towards establishing a network of such high-quality foreign engineering universities in Pakistan. Kudos to PM Imran Khan.

The courses that will be offered by F H Johanneum (Graz, Austria) will be in the fields of electrical/computer engineering, biomedical science and information design. MCI Innsbruck Austria will offer courses in environmental engineering while Johannes Keppler University in Linz, Austria will offer postgraduate M. Phil and PhD level training in artificial intelligence. In addition to these, several leading Chinese universities are formally involved to set up four postgraduate Centers of Excellence, making it the most powerful educational program in the region. MS and PhD level courses on high speed railways engineering will be offered by Beijing Jiaotong University, the top university in China in this field. Similarly, Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technologies, the leading institute in China in this fast emerging field, and Guangdong University will offer postgraduate training programs on artificial intelligence.

Pakistan possesses a huge amount of unexploited mineral wealth, but we do not have the capability to extract these minerals and market them internationally. So China’s leading university in this highly specialized field, China University of Mining and Technology, has agreed to set up a Center of Excellence in this field which will train students at MS and PhD levels in mining, and mineral extraction and processing technologies. Another Center of Excellence will be established in advanced agricultural sciences, with focus on hybrid seed production, biotechnology for increasing quality and yields as well as food processing and packaging technologies will be established by Jiangsu University.

The involvement of no less than eight foreign universities in the Pak-Austria Fachhochschule will add new dimensions to higher education in Pakistan. The center piece of the university would be the Technology Park to foster innovation and promote new start-up companies with close linkages with foreign and Pakistani industries. Emphasis will be on applied research of industrial importance. The aim will be to foster strong linkages between industries in Austria and China with those in Pakistan through the development and manufacture of innovative products both for the local market and for export.

The Pak-Austria Fachhochschule will offer Bachelors, Masters and PhD programs. The curricula will be identical to those followed by the foreign collaborating universities in line with the industrial strength of the partner countries. The education processes will be as per standards of the foreign partners and will meet HEC and PEC (Pakistan Engineering Council) criteria so that qualifying students can get double degrees, provided that the educational programs are accredited by the partnering foreign universities.

Riaz Haq said...

This is how #Pakistan is closing its #skills gap. Parwaaz has identified 6 priority sectors to fuel future growth: #ICT, #FinancialServices , #Textile , #Hospitality, #Retail & #Services , #Manufacturing & Light #Engineering and #Agriculture & #Livestock

A multistakeholder approach takes flight
In the local context, Parwaaz means ‘’to take flight”. Standing true to the spirit of the name, with the guidance of the most influential public and private-sector leaders, Parwaaz is developing a futuristic approach to reskilling the nation.

Parwaaz is a multi-stakeholder alliance representing both the public and private sector. It focuses on three areas: lifelong learning and upskilling, future-readiness and youth employability, and innovative skills funding models.

It has identified 6 priority sectors to fuel Pakistan’s future growth: ICT, Financial Services, Textile, Hospitality, Retail and Services, Manufacturing and Light Engineering and Agriculture and Livestock. 42 of the largest employers in Pakistan are working together with the Punjab Skills Development Fund through Parwaaz to establish 6 sector-level incubators to identify reskilling, upskilling and new-skilling roles that are emerging today or that will appear in the future.

Parwaaz business leaders are providing support to the platform in form of funding (full/partial), training facilities, guidance and support in designing course curriculum, providing instructors or any other form of support. Working closely with experts appointed by each of these businesses from within their own companies, the training courses for each role under each industry incubator are being standardized to meet market needs. This will not only be a proof of concept but allow the model to be scaled up quickly and attract a larger pool of employers in each of the 6 sectors across Pakistan.

Real people, real skills, real impact
Parwaaz is already making a difference to people’s lives and futures. Three different skills, pilot incubators have been established and the work underway will ultimately result in approximately 1,000 young people graduating by June 2021 with improved and market relevant skills for the labour markets of tomorrow. These pilot programmes are owned and supported by the companies taking part in Parwaaz and are focusing on the following sectors and skills:

An ICT sector incubator is upskilling 500 young individuals for roles including, Contact Centre Agents to service international clients, Full Stack Developers, Data Scientists and E-commerce professionals.
A Financial Services sector incubator is equipping 200 young people with the skills they need for roles including, Information/cyber security experts, Data Analysts and Digital Compliance Experts.
A Textiles Sector incubator is preparing 300 young people for roles including, Data Analysts, 3D and CAD Designers.

Bridging the gap
The Accelerator is raising awareness and urgency not only among the employers and private sector at large but also the young people around the importance of skilling and reskilling and nurturing a proactive mindset despite of the challenging times. At the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, the Co-Chairs of Parwaaz participated in a number of open virtual activities to provide guidance to young Pakistanis and share their advice on how to navigate this time and prepare for the bounce back of the economy.

Ultimately, the Accelerator is bridging a crucial disconnect. With the Government working closely with the private sector, an opportunity for public-private partnership in the skills sphere has been ignited, which didn’t exist before, and can result in new, forward-looking policies and strategies, and a brighter future for Pakistan’s young and growing workforce.

Riaz Haq said...

Netsol Announces to Establish Its Own IT University
Posted 8 hours ago by ProPK Staff

This is encouraging news from the industry for software houses, professionals, and students alike. A university to be set up based on industry and academic coordination could serve the entire IT sector, which is always looking for graduates having skills in advanced fields of IT sector.

Presently, a majority of local universities except a few institutions do not produce graduates that meet the requirement of the local and foreign markets. Hence, a serious shortage of human resources always prevails in the sector.

According to industry estimates, as many as 25,000 graduates graduate from various universities per year in Pakistan. However, merely 5,000 graduates can meet the requirements of the industry regarding the needed skill sets and other practical qualifications.

Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MoITT) had previously planned to set up an authority on IT education last year under the then minister. However, there is no update on the continuity of the plan under the present minister.

Stakeholders of the IT industry said that professionals of various software houses could impart their knowledge at various institutions to bring reforms in IT education. However, they said that the universities are not willing to pay them competitive salaries.

Therefore, inexperienced teachers continue to teach various subjects of computer science to students through an outdated curriculum and obsolete methodologies.

Some big names in the IT industry usually set up their in-house training departments to meet the demand for human resources. However, this is not a long-term solution as far as the entire industry is concerned.

At present, the demand for the IT industry is exceeding 15,000 professionals every year, with over 5,000 highly-skilled professionals required in the latest technologies.

Companies have no choice but to pick up professionals from competing companies at higher offers of salary packages.

It is hoped that setting up an IT industry by a reputed IT company could make a difference in meeting the demand of the country’s IT companies in the future rather than money-making and degree-printing institutions.

Riaz Haq said...

Beaconhouse International College, with campuses in Islamabad, Lahore and Faisalabad, was established to deliver transnational higher education to students in Pakistan.

The new partnership will support BIC’s students to progress to an NCUK partner university, with the foundation year course covering English language and academic skills. The foundation year program at BIC will begin in 2023.

NCUK has over 45 partner universities located in countries including the UK, Australia, New Zealand, the USA, and Canada.

The new partnership is part of a wider initiative between NCUK and Oxbridge Digital in Pakistan.

As part of the collaboration, Oxbridge Digital is finding and recommending educational institutions to join the NCUK Delivery Partner network and deliver NCUK qualifications across a range of locations in Pakistan.

Speaking at the launch of the initiative, Usman Akram, managing director of Oxbridge Digital said, “Since the day we opened our doors in Pakistan, Oxbridge Digital has been partnering with UK Higher Education Institutions to empower students by providing them with opportunities that are both accessible and affordable.

“We’ve taken a step closer to achieving this goal with our new partnering with NCUK. We are looking forward to working with them to grow the number of Study Centres in Pakistan that play an integral role in changing lives of the students here.”

NCUK announced a new partnership with Royal Colleseum School earlier this year.