Pakistan Institute of Development Economics

The University Research System In Pakistan
Publication Year : 2020

With the support of the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan and the British Council, Knowledge Platform conducted in 2018 a seminal research project titled The University Research System in Pakistan. The project—which may represent the most widespread engagement on the subject with faculty members and other experts to date—canvassed academic and research institutions across the country and conducted interviews, focus groups and surveys with a view towards understanding key challenges facing, and identifying practical measures for strengthening, the university research system in Pakistan. This report sets out our findings and proposes a set of recommendations to further strengthen the university research system in Pakistan. Our intensive engagement with faculty members shed light on the multi-faceted challenges facing the sector, the successful initiatives that are already underway and aspirations for the future. Most faculty members were laudatory of the leadership of the Higher Education Commission and the growth of research in universities in Pakistan from a low base in 2001, although some were dismissive of research gains so far and pessimistic about the future. At the same time, almost every single faculty member we interviewed offered a critique of the existing system and many offered suggestions for improvement. The most pervasive themes we encountered were the need to intensify faculty debate and collaboration, increase research funding, build demand for research in the government and the private sectors, assert academic rather than bureaucratic control over research decisions, expand thematic research on national challenges, develop flexible evaluation criteria, and build faculty skills in research methodologies, collaboration, dissemination and commercialisation. Our report explores these themes in some detail and provides recommendations to place university research in Pakistan at a considerably elevated plane of enquiry,, innovation and impact.