Knowledge City “would prove a revolutionary step for the rapid development of the education sector”
The government-backed education hub first initiated by the Musharraf government in 2003, stalled due to a series of changes in Pakistan’s leadership. Punjab’s current Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif however, is set to make it a reality, investing land and human resources as well as inviting international universities to partner with it.
The Nation, a national Pakistani paper reported that “development work to house campuses of various foreign universities will begin as early as December this year.”
Earlier this year, the government showed commitment to educational reform by increasing its higher education development budget by 23%. The Chief Minister said Knowledge City “would prove a revolutionary step for the rapid development of the education sector.”
Sharif also hopes the initiative “will attract talented expatriates who are working in different countries in the field of information technology and engineering.”
According to Dr Osamah Qureshi, Director of the Institute of Career Development in Pakistan, the government is planning to invite 30-40 universities to take part in the hub in Lahore that will also include a park, a five star hotel and a commercial centre.
“This project is aimed at Pakistani students who can’t afford higher education abroad and so they can attend an international university degree at affordable cost by studying at Knowledge City,” he told The PIE News.
Comparing Pakistan’s plans to Dubai’s Knowledge Village, Quereshi explained ” it will have a much larger number of students and structure.”
So far, four Turkish universities, Ata Turk University, Gediz University, Dicle University and Fath University have expressed interest in setting up campuses in the city.
“The challenge will be for Knowledge City to establish a clear identity and strong profile”
Pakistan’s Chief Secretary welcomed representatives from these institutions last week and said he “hoped the collaboration between Turkey and Pakistan in higher education sector will yield better prospects for the Pakistani youth.”
Peter Upton, Director of the British Council in Pakistan said the project has the capacity to attract students from the Middle East, parts of Asia and Africa as well as tap into diaspora communities.
“But to do this successfully requires a blend of good facilities, good research links and networks and sustained investment. Success will be achieved through consistency and quality,” he said.
“The challenge will be for the [Knowledge City] to establish a clear identity and strong profile. If it can achieve strong international partnerships then it would be able to operate in a distinctive sphere and attract students from differing regions,” Upton added.