Pakistan to open first fee-free university (VIDEO)

Khawaja Dawood/South Asia Correspondent for The Santiago Times

LAHORE – Pakistan is set to open its first ever fee-free university in Kasur district, Punjab next month, in a bid to provide easy access to higher education in the South Asian country.

The Akhuwat University, some 50 kilometers from Lahore, will be operational on August 14, Independence Day with 600 students enrolled for three different master degrees.

“We are establishing the first fee-free university in Pakistan where students will not have to pay any fee,” says Dr. Mohammed Amjad Saqib, executive director of Akhuwat, a micro-finance firm offering interest-free loans (Qarz-e-Hasna) in the country.

Akhuwat University

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“This is some kind of long-term interest-free loans. First you get education and pay after 5, 10 or 20 years, when you are able to return it; because remember that you got education but didn’t pay for it; but now when you have a job you can pay so that somebody else can also benefit,” he said.

Dr. Saqib added that “education is ultimate solution of our problems. We can’t progress and compete with international community unless we are ahead in education. But it is a pity that a boy coming from a poor family may be able to complete 10-year education but can’t receive higher education. We are not doing justice with our talent”.

He pointed out that this residential university will be a national institute where 20 per cent of students will come from each province of Pakistan.

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Akhuwat is already running a fee-free college in Lahore, housing more than 300 students from all provinces. It offers pre-medical, pre-engineering and ICT courses.

To get entry into the college, a student must obtain 75 per cent marks in matriculation examination followed by an examination conducted at the college.

Pakistan is home to one of the world’s largest institute for higher learning – the Allama Iqbal Open University, which boosts over a million student annual enrollment.

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