Dr Attaur Rehman for the construction of a knowledge economy and a culture of innovation

Former Minister of Science and Technology and founding Chairman of the Commission on Higher Education (HEC), Dr Attaur Rehman chaired a meeting at the Lahore Knowledge Park Company (LKPC) the other day to share his experiences of developing a knowledge economy.

The high-level meeting was attended by Minister of Higher Education Yasir Humayun Sarfraz, Chairman of LKPC, Lieutenant General (r) Mohammad Akram, Chairman of the Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC), Dr Muhammad Nizamuddin, Additional Secretary of the Department of Higher Education (HED) Tanvir Jabbar and other members. from the management of LKPC.

Dr Attaur Rehman briefed the participants on the importance of the knowledge economy, obstacles and setbacks for the LKPC and other issues plaguing the higher education sector in the country.

He stressed the importance of the knowledge economy and the untapped potential of science, technology and innovation in the higher education sector of the province. The former minister said modern economic advancement was driven by the creation and transfer of knowledge, which enabled high export value through product innovation.

Dr Rehman also presented a set of pragmatic recommendations to improve the quality of higher education in the Punjab. He informed the minister that the most important factor that could improve universities in Punjab was high quality faculty. He observed that the current average ratio of doctoral professors to students was 1 in 80, while a respectable ratio was 1 in 20. He also told the minister that the federal HEC had experienced serious financial problems. with huge budget cuts, with only Rs 15 billion. released against Rs 35 billion allocated during the previous year, a decrease of 45% compared to the previous year.

School pursuits

Dr Rehman suggested that the government of Punjab launch a faculty development program whereby 1,000 students are expected to be sent abroad every year to major universities in Europe and Asia over the next 10 years. years. He argued that students should not be sent to the US or UK for fees or other reasons. He specified that the cost of doctoral training was estimated on average at Rs 10 billion per year for 10 years. In addition, he said that a research grant of $ 50,000 should be made available to each of the students to facilitate absorption and productivity upon their return. He suggested that jobs should be secured on arrival with internships completed a year before academics return to Pakistan.

To improve quality, the former president of HEC suggested that a research budget of 3 billion rupees per year be created to promote research in universities and that a separate Punjab innovation fund of 2 billion rupees per year be set aside to promote innovation. He suggested that it should be compulsory for university professors to work in industrial / agricultural institutions / private social organizations. He also complained about the abandonment of the Tenure Track faculties initiative by HEC, which was not implemented in most universities in Punjab. Reputable scientists said this was one of the main reasons mediocrity prevailed in Punjab. Another suggestion made by Dr Rehman was the creation of innovation parks in each university in the public sector.

The former minister also emphasized the importance of technology parks to raise the level of higher education and promote a whole ecosystem of innovation in the country.

Higher Education Minister Yasir Humayun Sarfraz not only welcomed the recommendations presented by Dr Attaur Rehman, but also expressed his determination to lead a strong plan to turn Punjab into a model for higher education in the country. He also mentioned that enabling effective and efficient reforms in the higher education system was one of the top priorities outlined in the provincial government’s 100-day plan.

Dr Attaur Rehman is the Chairman of the LKPC Steering Committee and leads the Knowledge Park project at Pak-Italy University in Lahore. The university will be established as a consortium of three Italian frontline universities.

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