Pakistan’s higher education sector has seen dramatic growth over the
past two decades, from a student population of just 68,000 in 1993 to
1.3m in 2012.
However, progress has been hampered by a lack of funding as well as
political reluctance to invest in the sector. Even the elite
institutions suffer from a shortage of teachers and resources, and
universities are often forced to recruit students without PhDs to teach
undergraduate classes. In addition, as government subsidies fluctuate,
the need to raise income through fees means that admissions standards
are often excessively relaxed in order to increase numbers. This has a
potentially detrimental effect on both the quality of the educational
experience and the perceived value of a degree.
Lack of engagement between higher education institutions and business
and industry means that graduates are frequently underprepared for the
workplace. This leads both to individual difficulty in finding suitable
employment and to a shortage of suitably qualified employees to meet the
needs of the economy. Guidance in the establishment of strong
collaborative relationships between universities and employers could
have a significant impact.
Higher education provision is currently distributed strongly in favour
of the two most prosperous provinces, Punjab and Sindh—between them, the
two are home to 85 of the country’s 139 universities and degree-awarding
institutions (DAIs). Within these provinces, the vast majority of
institutions are located in large cities. Aspiring students from poorer
provinces or rural areas, who cannot afford to move away from home for
their education, therefore frequently cannot choose to study. Distance
learning is providing a solution for some, and the spread of low-cost
broadband services has enabled Pakistan to embrace this as an option.
However, as Pakistan ranks 108th out of 148 countries for the percentage
of households equipped with a personal computer (PC), significant
swathes of the population are unlikely to benefit from a revolution in
Guerrero, C. Higher education case studies - Pakistan. Economist Intelligence Unit, London, UK (2014) 16 pp.
Higher education case studies - Pakistan