ISLAMABAD – The Higher Education Commission Pakistan (HEC) has recently published assessment and research ranking of Pakistani higher education institutions for the year 2011.

According to the findings of this academic exercise, Pakistani higher education institutions witness tremendous increase in research publications within last few years.

The number of publications has increased from about 800 in the year 2002 to more than 6000 in the year 2011 while in 2010 this number was 5000.

These publications were extracted using three global databases i.e. SCI-E, SSCI, S&HCI from Thomson-Reuters web of science.

The publications also cover all major disciplines including physical sciences, agriculture & veterinary sciences, biological & medical sciences, social sciences, management sciences and engineering.

Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad remained the top university with 717 publications while University of Agriculture Faisalabad with 524 publications and Aga Khan University Karachi with 521 publications secured second and third positions respectively.  

Since the establishment of HEC in 2002, research output has grown eight-folds. As a result of this phenomenal increase in research publications, the world share of Pakistan’s research has gone up by 300 per cent in the last five years.

About 90 per cent of these research publications from Pakistan are coming from higher education institutions HEIs. Output has more than doubled just in the last 3 years and is expected to double again in the next three years.

The provision of access to 75 per cent of the World’s literature (23,000 e-journals and 45,000 e-books) through digital Library has been greatly helpful in promoting research culture in Pakistan. In addition, incentives to the university faculty and PhD scholars have been introduced for encouraging them to write research articles in national and international recognized journals.

In addition access to 140+ free software provided to over one million students in higher education sector and there has been more than 80,000 download from 68 universities during 2011-12.  This development has been recognized throughout the world. Scimago, an independent research organization and an international evaluation and ranking platform, which analyses scientific outputs of institutions and countries and monitors over 30,000 journals, is considered one of the most credible databases in the world of research. Its most recent publication is a forecasting exercise on how the world will perform in research by 2018 based on their past performance.

The top 50 countries are included in the forecast.

While China, as expected, has become the number one country in the world by 2018 in terms of research output, three countries stand out and show the most drastic increase in numbers and rankings: Iran, Malaysia and Pakistan. Iran moves ahead from number 19 to number 4, Malaysia from 30 to 13, and Pakistan from 43 to 27. The expected output of research in Pakistan moving up 16 notches, which is the second highest increase worldwide, is primarily due to the innovative higher education policies and reforms taking place in Pakistan under the Higher Education Commission (HEC).  In addition to quality reforms, there has been a strong resurgence of research and innovation.

It is also due to this new flourishing research culture at the higher education institutions that the number of international research publications with impact factor has increased drastically by a factor of 8 in the last 10 years! While 816 impact factor papers were published in 2002, it has now increased to over 6300 in 2011, with the largest numbers of publications in areas of relevance to economic development.

As a result of the reforms, which include research output, Pakistan’s higher education sector is finally beginning to appear on the world scene. While no university was ranked in the top universities of the world three years back, according to the most recent QS Asian Universities Rankings 2012, there are now six Pakistani universities that are ranked among the top 300 universities. Similarly, according to QS World Universities Ranking 2011, two Pakistani universities are ranked among the top 300 technology universities of the world.