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Knowledge has become a springboard for economic growth and development. For centuries, people have gained a substantial benefit from the higher education they have received and wider society has benefited too. Collective action is needed to support, nurture, and strengthen higher education institutions. It also affects decisions on how much should be invested in higher education and from what sources that investment should come. It is good to keep in mind that international support for higher education has passed through three overlapping phases in the past half-century.

Higher education simultaneously improves individual lives and enriches wider society, indicating a substantial overlap between private and public interests in higher education. Higher education also raises wages and productivity, which makes both individuals and countries richer. It offers society both cultural and political benefits. And, it can encourage independence and initiative, both valuable commodities in the knowledge society. The macroeconomic impact of education is strong just as individuals with better education tending to achieve greater success in the labor market, so economies with higher enrollment rates and years of schooling appear to be more dynamic, competitive in global markets, and successful in terms of higher income per capita.












Developing countries are currently under great pressure to meet increased demand for higher education, and many are finding it hard to keep up. They are becoming increasingly reliant on fee based education. In this environment, education becomes more narrowly focused on providing a skilled labor pool for the immediate needs of the economy. Market forces predominate and the public benefits of and responsibilities for higher education recede from view.

Certainly, competition within the higher education sector can lead to higher standards and to significant benefits for individual students. In many developing countries, however, markets do not function well and this leads to a serious misallocation of resources.

Access, for example, is limited by income, excluding potentially able students and diluting the quality of the student body. Poor market information dilutes competition, allowing weak, exploitative institutions some of them foreign to survive and even prosper, and lessening the chances of dynamic new entrants. Even when markets work well and students receive a quality service, private institutions may still fail to serve the public interest. Profit institutions operate as businesses and trying to maximize the return on their investment. It may not make good financial sense for them to invest in public-interest functions, and therefore they do not invest in certain subjects and types of higher education, even if these are important to the well-being of society as a whole.

In many institutions, students face difficult conditions for study. Overcrowded classes, inadequate library and laboratory facilities, distracting living conditions, and few, if any, student services are the norm. The financial strains currently faced by most universities are making conditions even worse. Many students start their studies academically unprepared for higher education. Poor basic and secondary education, combined with a lack of selection in the academic system, lie at the root of this problem. Yet rarely does an institution respond by creating remedial programs for inadequately prepared students.

To promote the higher education in Pakistan, the government has set up the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan in order to revamp the higher education system in the country. HEC has been entrusted the job of facilitating the development of the quality of education of universities and colleges in Pakistan so that the youth of the country can become agents of bringing about socioeconomic changes in the country. HEC aims to give Pakistan a bright future through a young, qualified, and energetic generation. An enrolment of 948,364 was estimated in 2009-10 in higher education over 803,507 in 2008-09. In order to boost up higher education, four new universities have been established during the year 2009?10 making the total number to 132 universities with 50,825 teachers in both private and public sectors.


In Pakistan, higher education institutions clearly need well-designed academic programs and a clear mission. Most important to their success, however, are high-quality faculty, committed and well-prepared students, and sufficient resources. Despite notable exceptions, most higher education institutions in developing countries suffer severe deficiencies in each of these areas. As a result, few perform to a consistently high standard. No doubt, the HEC is playing a leading role towards building a knowledge based economy in Pakistan by giving out hundreds of doctoral scholarships for education abroad every year.
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Publication:Pakistan & Gulf Economist
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Apr 3, 2011
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