The role of universities in nation building

An example of what can be done

Universities are considered key institutions in the processes of social change and development. It is a general view that great nations have great universities. This motivates significant public and private investment in universities. These days much of the focus is on universities promoting economic growth based on a knowledge economy.

No doubt, equally important are the contributions that universities can make to culture, political stability, and positive social change. Great nations are not just built by brilliant scientists, writers and entrepreneurs. Rather they also require effective school teachers, engineers and small business owners, and so on. Furthermore, it needs well-informed citizens, critical thinkers and those who engaged in politics and communities.

The best universities are populated by highly gifted and motivated faculty and students. The most important role the universities have been assigned is the production of highly skilled manpower and research output to meet perceived targets. Another role that universities may play is in the building of new institutions of civil society, developing new cultural values, and training and socializing people of the new social era. In the economic perspective, the role of universities is to produce new knowledge and commodify it in collaboration with industry. It means that universities must have a candid assessment of indigenous problems and good linkages with the community and industry.

Once Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan said that the role of newly established universities in Pakistan is more important than the older higher-education institutions because such institutions have the potential to develop their values and can easily align their priorities with national goals and objectives.

No doubt, the Khwaja Fareed University of Engineering and Information Technology (KFUEIT) is one such good example among newly established universities in Punjab. Expansion and consolidation have both been observable since 2019. Now, 180 trained PhD faculty members are contributing to teaching and research at KFUEIT. The strength will increase with the ongoing hiring process. The impact factor of research rose from 560 to 4500. It secured more than 25 research grants under the National Research Programme for Universities (NRPU). KFUEIT is continuously improving its position in different international university rankings like Time Higher Education (THE), UI GreenMetric and SCIMago, etc. Quality education and innovative research are a priority at KFUEIT.

No doubt, with all above said achievements KFUEIT is a successful model for all emerging higher education institutions in the country. Such excellent planning is the need of time for a better educational future, to address the needs of the region and indigenous society and for better nation-building. KFUEIT is an emerging university in all avenues of higher education under the vision of Government of Punjab. Such marvelous developments at KFUEIT were not possible without the kind support of the Government, and the hard work and dedication of faculty and staff

100 percent fee scholarship has been announced for Hafiz-e-Quran and the girls in a variety of engineering programmes. Such scholarship for girl students is a remarkable effort for women’s empowerment in south Punjab. The scholarship given to the students has crossed a dream figure of Rs 1000 million. Twenty-eight active student societies are continuously providing students with confidence and character-building opportunities in the form of seminars, webinars, conferences, workshops, exhibitions, study circles, book talks, magazines and a variety of competitions. The KFUEIT campus has been declared a smoke- and drug-free campus which is a good step for the healthy future of the youth at KFUEIT.

Suitable sports facilities and pieces of training are also available for students. KFUEIT-trained athletes won more than 50 medals in different national sports events since 2019. Infrastructure has been rapidly expanding since 2019. Already, a state-of-the-art guest house, executive club, sports complex and faculty hostels have been added and in a few months, student hostels and the academic block will become part of the KFUEIT infrastructure. A state-of-the-art hi-tech lab has been installed at KFUEIT. It will provide the MS & PhD researchers with modern equipment and will facilitate their research. KFUEIT also has good linkages with the community and offers a variety of social services to the community with the help of students. These services are in the form of free medical camps, availability of drinking water (Aab-e-Fareed), Iftar Dastar Khwan and distribution of rations among needy families, and so on. During the drought in Cholistan, the students of KFUEIT managed the supply of water to different water reservoirs by using tankers. They also managed the supply of fresh drinking water to a large number of families in Cholistan.

It is a priority to develop an environment-friendly infrastructure at KFUEIT. A solar project with a capacity of 145KV has been installed. Under the Clean and Green Campus project, more than 50000 plants (including 20 percent fruit plants) have been planted on the campus. The University designed and installed its own solar-based wastewater treatment plant and recycled wastewater for use in horticulture and agriculture. Electric environment-friendly motorbikes are provided to the security staff for use inside the campus. A Business Incubation Center was established. To provide students with all services at one window and to save their time, a ‘Student Facilitation Center’ was established.

The South Punjab Skill Development Institute was established in collaboration with NAVTTC. More than 600 students are enrolled in different certificate courses. To improve research and collaboration more than 40 MoUs were signed with different national & international universities or organizations. Now, KFUEIT has planned to propose solutions to the indigenous social and industrial problems. It would revolutionize the whole indigenous scenario.

No doubt, with all above said achievements KFUEIT is a successful model for all emerging higher education institutions in the country. Such excellent planning is the need of time for a better educational future, to address the needs of the region and indigenous society and for better nation-building. KFUEIT is an emerging university in all avenues of higher education under the vision of Government of Punjab. Such marvelous developments at KFUEIT were not possible without the kind support of the Government, and the hard work and dedication of faculty and staff.

Prof. Dr. Muhammad Suleman Tahir
Prof. Dr. Muhammad Suleman Tahir
Currently, the writer is serving as vice chancellor at Khwaja Fareed University of Engineering and Information Technology, Rahim Yar Khan.

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