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Education in Pakistan

 overviews of educational trends in Pakistan, features information about the country’s education system, student mobility trends, and more.

FRE overviews that Pakistan’s “promising growth” makes it a country to watch for recruitment. (Megan Mankerian-Stem, director of international enrollment at Creighton University). Her assessment echoes that of the British Council, which has acknowledged Pakistan as one of the fastest-growing outbound student populations.

The percentage of students is going to the U.S. from Pakistan increased by 14.2 percent for the 2016/17 academic year. The U.S. as the third most popular destination for Pakistani students, receiving 10 percent of the 51,894 students who went abroad (UIS rank). Australia and UK educate more students from Pakistan whereas, other top destination countries include Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Germany, and Canada, each of which educated at least 2,000 Pakistani students every year.

The quality of the higher education system is one reason behind this brain’s outflow. For instance, as the Diplomat Magazine noted in 2016, “Over the last decade, there has been a tremendous rise in the number of private educational institutions and universities in Pakistan. However, the quality of education that these institutions offer has fallen significantly.

The Higher Education Commission (HEC), Pakistan’s education regulatory body, shut down lots of Ph.D. programs in a number of universities across the country. Reportedly, the universities failed to meet the minimum quality criteria required for higher education institutions and universities.”

Moreover, significant projects like the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), “a [USD] $62 billion connectivity project,” according to the U.S.-based Wilson Center, “stretch from the western Chinese city of Kashgar to Pakistan’s Arabian Sea port of Gwadar” have created demand for, in the words of Zamir Awan, a professor and trade expert at Pakistan’s National University of Sciences and Technology, a “well-educated, well-trained workforce” that Pakistani universities are currently ill-equipped to supply.

Pakistan’s growth as a sending country

Lack of ability in the higher education sector represents a significant challenge for the country’s 18- to 22-year-old population, which is projected to rise by 900,000 over the next 10 years. Mankerian-Stem, who visited the country as part of an Education USA tour, noted that rising prosperity in Pakistan, will weaken as a barrier for some families. However, scholarships will continue to remain relevant for the successful recruitment of Pakistani students, she highlighted, noting the twofold benefit to the institution and the student in terms of enrollment numbers and financial assistance, respectively.

Families who value a U.S. degree see it as a guarantee and strive to support their students’ efforts to attain one, Mankerian-Stem said. According to UIS data estimates, the outbound growth trend is undeniable: 39,314 Pakistani students left their home in 2012; in 2017, an estimated 51,894 went abroad to pursue their education, a 32 percent increase.

While the current political climate has made it challenging to recruit students from Pakistan, the inbound numbers to the U.S. offer some encouragement. Students and their families are still eager to learn about opportunities in the U.S., and efforts made now will go a long way in the future. Mankerian-Stem explained that branding is critical now, and that it is important to show how welcoming and safe U.S. HEIs are.

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a culturally and linguistically diverse large South Asian country bordered by Afghanistan and Iran to the north and west, China to the northeast, India to the east and the Arabian Sea to the south. The Muslim-majority country was established in its current form after the partition of former British India into India and Pakistan in 1947, and the subsequent secession of Bangladesh, formerly known as East Pakistan, in 1971.

Currently the sixth most populous country in the world with 212 million people, Pakistan is characterized by one of the highest population growth rates worldwide outside of Africa. Even though the roughly 2 percent rate is now slowing, the country’s population is estimated to reach 403 million by 2050 (UN median range projection). There are more young people in Pakistan today than at any point in its history, and it has one of the world’s largest youth populations with 64 percent of Pakistanis now under the age of 30. Consider that Karachi is projected to become the third-largest city in the world with close to 32 million people by the middle of the century.