1.2 Need Assessment
The need for establishing more universities can be studied in a global context. A bird eye view of the Muslim World shows that huge amounts are being invested in higher education to make it research oriented. Saudi Arab is investing billions of its petrodollars in this sector. Examples are the Princess Nora bint Abdurrahman University and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. Similarly, the United Arab Emirates is also investing huge amounts in its research-based education. Malaysia, with four of its universities in the top 500 Universities of the world according to QS World ranking 2010-2011, is hoping to attract $100 billion investment with a hope that its EduCity alone will be housing 700 universities. 30% of its youth has access to higher education with WEF rating of 38 for higher education and 22 for innovation and a value added export exceeding $157 billion in 2011-12 (Laghari, Empires of the Mind 2012).
Indonesia with 27% access to higher education and WEF ranking of 69 for higher education and 41 for innovation has a value added exports exceeding $120 billion. Turkey with 38% access to Higher education and five of the world’s top 500 universities has produced 18500 research papers in 2011. (Laghari, Empires of the Mind 2012)
Considering our neighboring India, it has produced 9000 PhDs and about 50,000 research papers in 2011 alone. Its spending on education sector is planned to increase from the current 0.9% to 2% of GDP by 2017. Its IT exports are exceeding $70 billion. Over the next five years India is planning to build 200 new universities and increase its enrollment to 40 million by 2020 (Laghari, Knowledge Economy 2012).
As far as Pakistan, it has only two universities on the QS World Rankings with a 7.8% access to higher education in 2011 that has increased from 5.1% in 2008 and WEF ranking of 122 for higher education and 72 for innovation. (Laghari, Knowledge Economy 2012). With this dismal picture, rather than investing more in the sector, “Pakistan’s higher education sector has suffered major budget cuts over the last two years. We spend a niggardly 1.8 percent of GDP on education—there are only six countries, which spend less than us” (Laghari, Empires of the Mind 2012).
To make parallels in the field of higher education, HEC was established to increase access and monitor the quality of education provided by the higher education institutions (HEIs). There was a dire need to increase the number of HEIs in the country and therefore, a number of new universities were established both in private and public sector along with upgrading some colleges to the status of degree awarding institutions. By 2010 the number of HEIs had increased, from 26 in 2002, to 132 with a total enrolment of 948268 having a female share of 45%. Total enrolment in PhDs was 6366 including 620 graduates from local universities (HEC 2011). In KP also, the same patron was followed. The number of independent degree awarding institutions in KP has reached to 24 with a number of affiliated colleges, sub-campuses and approved study centers.
1.3 Impact on Access
The increase in the number of HEIs and its spread across the landscape of Pakistan in general and in KP in particular has surely increased access to higher education. Table 1 below shows the details of enrolment in various HEIs and in different categories in KP and Figure 1 below shows the trend of student enrollment in universities at the national level.
The more the institutions for higher education, the more are the opportunities to convert knowledge into a socio-economic development agent. The upgradation of the colleges to universities has increased access of the under educated province to higher education at a subsidized rates. AWKU and ICP has increased the opportunities for male and female students both, whereas, SBBWU for female and specially for those female who due to cultural and social limitations were unable to attend the traditional universities with co-education. But this does not necessarily mean that the relevance and quality of the education provided has also improved, which are the fundamentals through which an education system can meet its economic and social responsibilities.