ISLAMABAD: (APP) Rapid growth of higher education institutes has taken place in Pakistan during last one decade or so. The Mushraff's reign is considered to be a golden era for promotion of higher studies in the country. A large number of universities and higher education institutes have been established throughout the country under the umbrella of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) which was headed by Dr Atta ur Rehman .
Like the rest of the country, in the province of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) various higher studies institutes are established and upgraded. In order to promote higher studies in Hazara Division, the Hazara University (HU) Mansehra was created back in 2002.
The HU in Mansehra is situated at one of the last corners of Hazara. The access to the HU was difficult for many areas of the same division. For instance, students from Haripur, Ghazi and some other areas of these sides were facing difficulties to approach the university.
Many students from these areas preferred to go to Peshawar University or some other universities in Islamabad and Rawalpindi due to easy accessibility. Keeping in view the difficulties of the students of these areas, many campuses of the HU had opened in different locations of Hazara including a campus in Havelian.
The campus of the HU in Havelian (Abbottabad) was established back in 2008. This campus is situated almost in the middle of the Hazara Division and the total allotted area of the campus is about 1200 Kanals. The site of the campus is very attractive and is situated in a quite open place and is not far from the Karakuram highway.
Moreover, easy availability of food and accommodation facility in the city of Havelian adds to its importance. Due to its central position and easy access, a large number of student are evidently enrolled in the limited departments of the campus.
This significant increase of students in this campus doubled the demand for establishment of new departments and upgrading of campus to a university. Considering the importance of a university in the area, the government of the KPK took practical step by formally announcing the status of this campus to an independent university named as the Abbottabad University of Science and Technology (AUST).
It is highly important to mention that education ratio of district Abbottabad always ranks at the top in the province. Due to tough competition, a large number of students are unable to secure admissions in other universities because these universities have special quota and fixed number of seats for a class. However, by now the AUST would accommodate a large number of students in various fields from the local areas.
It is a fact that education is a precursor for the development of a country or a region. It is believed that the university will play an instrumental role for producing significant impacts on the local community. Many local students will able to get their higher education from the university.
The people living in the surrounding areas of the university are financially not too strong. As a result, many students were unable to join any university. Being an eye witness, I personally know many talented and capable students of the area who were unable to complete their higher studies due to lack of resources. With the establishment of this university, such students will have equal opportunities to continue their studies.
Likewise, by establishing new departments and constructions of infrastructure, it will bolster economic growth and create employment opportunities for local community. The talented, well-educated, and deserve candidates of the area will secure administrative, teaching, and other jobs in the university.
The university will play an important role for boosting the economic condition of the people. In parallel with monetary advantages, it will also enhance the social acceptability of the people. The university is just at a distance of about 10 Kilometres from the main city of Abbottabad. The Abbottabad city is famous for its pleasant weather, its beauty, and renowned educational institutions. It attracts hundred and thousands of tourists throughout the year and many people throughout Pakistan have been settled in the city. The creation of the university will even attract more people to this area. Therefore, it can safely be said that many students will join this university from other parts of the country as well. This is how social interaction will take place.
Although the establishment of the AUST is a very important milestone for promotion of higher education in Hazara and specifically in Abbottabad but there is a vast space which requires a lot of work to be done. The infrastructure of the university is very limited. It is surprising to know that currently only 3-4 departments are operating in the University in 5-6 rooms and that too provide education to the master level or even M.Phil level.
In order to maximize the departments and lodging the proper M.Phil and PhD programs in various fields, there is dire need to have infrastructure of the university on priority basis. I would like to bring the attentions of the HEC and government of the KPK for establishment of infrastructure and specialized human resources to be posted in the university at the earliest.
Being a local person of the area I am thankful and pay regards on behalf of the community to the government of the KPK for giving university status to this campus. I strongly believe and I wish to the best that the University would prove itself to be a learning hub to impart higher studies in the region.
(Writer: Muhammad Mumtaz is a PhD Fellow in Public Administration and Govt at FGV-Sao Paulo, Brazil)