Pakistani Students Win First Place in Stanford Longevity Design Contest
By Riaz Haq

A three-member team of Pakistani students from Islamabad's National University of Science and Technology (NUST), won the first place in a contest organized by Stanford Center of Longevity.

The Winners 
NUST's HooriyaAnam, AwaisShafique, and ArsalanJaved defeated teams from around the world with their anti-tremor prototype project TAME. A team from the famed Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was placed second while a Virginia Tech team stood third, according to results announced by  the Center

The Competitors 
Besides NUST, MIT and Virginia Tech teams, there were teams from Cornell University, University of Sao Paolo Brazil, China's Beijing University and Silicon Valley's Stanford University that also competed in the contest.
The winners received $17,000 in cash prizes along with paid travel to Stanford where they presented their designs to industry, academics, and government leaders.

College and University Enrollment in Pakistan
Wins such as the Stanford Challenge are the result of improvements in higher education in Pakistan since the year 2000.
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 ).

 

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 has risen 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 .

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 urRehman  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.

R&D Investment 
Rise of research and publications at Pakistani universities began during the 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 urRehman . Student enrollment in universities increased from 270,000 to 900,000 and the number of universities and degree-awarding institutions rose from 57 in 2000 to 137 by 2008. Government  R&D spending jumped  seven-fold as percentage of GDP from 0.1% in 1999 to 0.7% in 2007. It has since declined.

Summary

Pakistani students, scientists and researchers are continuing to produce highly recognized and  cited  research in spite of serious economic and security challenges. Enrollment in higher education is rising and giving a boost to innovation. With better policy focus and more investment in higher education, Pakistan can make an even greater impact with its young

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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