Anwar Khan - A nation has to be fully cognizant of the importance of higher education for all especially for the development of young aspiring women if it wants to change its destiny and attain the status of a developed nation. Blessed with all resources, Pakistan needs to develop its natural and human resources to join ranks of developed industrially-advanced prosperous nations within this decade. We know Pakistan is facing various challenges at all fronts so we need an educated workforce with knowledge of science and technology, and research in critical areas. We need to increase the number of scientific and research personnel if we are to become a regional leader.

As one of the oldest and largest premier women higher education institutions, the Lahore College for Women University is playing a significant role in producing empowered women graduates since 1922, when it was established as a degree college and later when it attained a university status in 2002.Currently, this university is going through a very challenging phase in its development through its Vision 2020 and its five-year Strategic Plan to be amongst the top ranking 500 universities globally. A concerted effort is being made by the university to enhance the quality of its graduate programmes and research through faculty development in collaborations with universities and industry at national and international levels.

The Lahore College for Women University is also taking other initiatives such as the establishment of four institutes, career counselling and job placement facilities, community outreach programmes and through its outstanding extra-curricular activities and sports. All these efforts are for empowering women graduates to contribute to socioeconomic development of Pakistan by equipping them with updated knowledge and skills for not only employment but also for productive and responsible citizens. Higher education improves quality of life of an individual with greater economic stability, more prestigious employment, greater job satisfaction and more self-confidence.

The Lahore College for Women University is fully aware of its pivotal role to enhance its outreach in higher education to female students in the region as well as to provide equal opportunities to high merit young women irrespective of any constraints be it financial needs or physical or social disability. Besides setting up sub campus at Jhang, we are currently involved with the master planning of Kala Shah Kaku Campus, consists of 100-acre land through the generous and visionary initiative of the government, for breaking new grounds in education and extending its range for accessibility of higher education. Along with the current enrollment, the new campus will enable the university to become one of the largest universities and thus enhance its outreach further.

In addition, the university has set up a Student Endowment Fund for student scholarships, enabling hundreds of high merit students to enroll in high quality graduate programmes. At LCWU, student enrolment has increased enormously during this period. The process of strengthening academic departments and resources is an important feature of the Lahore College for Women University. Today, the university is offering 4-year BS programmes in 35 departments, 5-year Pharm-D and BS Architecture programmes in 2 departments; 2-year MS/MPhil programmes in 24 departments; and PhDs in 15 departments. Expanding our academic programmes and introducing new disciplines have added to the options for the students. Currently, a total of 174 scholars are enrolled in PhD programmes at LCWU, which is making a tremendous effort to enhance the quality of higher education.

Currently, LCWU has 500 faculty members of which 116 hold PhD degrees and 198 hold an MS or M.Phil degree. The exponential increase in the enrollment in PhD programmes reflects the fact that LCWU research and academics are heading towards excellence.

The Lahore College for Women University has 20 completed research projects so far, while seven ongoing research projects to its credit are in the departments of Environmental Science, Zoology, Botany and Biotechnology in the Faculty of Natural Sciences. These would prove to be the greatest contributions to the natural sciences and will be of immense service to the community and country. Researchers at LCWU are committed to conduct quality research and publish their work in world ranking journals. The number of research papers published during the last five years has significantly increased reaching to a total of 374; this evidently reflects the conducive research culture at the university. Scientists at LCWU conduct innovative and applied research. They are committed to enhance research in inter disciplinary fields and are well recognised at national and international levels.

Names of 14 young and senior faculties are listed as Productive Scientists of Pakistan by the Pakistan Council of Science and Technology whereas nine of them received a cash prize as Research Productivity Award for their outclass research publications. Faculty at LCWU have also been awarded shields and other laurels at different fora. Numerous national and international conferences were attended by the faculty from the departments of Botany, Zoology, Physics, Environmental Science, Computer Science, Chemistry, Management Sciences, Applied Psychology, Gender Studies, Institute of Languages and Cultures, Institute of Education, DFDI and QEC. Our faculty presented papers and some were key note speakers at these conferences. The prestigious Microsoft Application Award was also won by the Computer Science Department in the VC Conference.

The international conference on ‘Language Sciences and the Developing World’ in collaboration with the University of Sydney, Australia, was the highlight of the Institute of Languages and Cultures. It synthesized in the Lahore Resolution, acknowledging and stressing the development of regional and other languages for greater empowerment of users. Seminar by Google Team from Singapore and Malaysia was a valuable input by the US Consulate to faculty and students. Workshops of international dimensions were conducted at the LCWU campus by the Universities of Warwick, California Santa Cruz, Institute of Learning Canada College, Milikin and LCWU, University College London on the topics of Scientific Research Methodology, Teaching and Research, Qualitative Research Methods, Climate Change and Green Economy.

The Faculty Development Centre conducted 19 comprehensive trainings in 2013 for approximately 400 faculties in various areas of research, teaching, communication, IT and personal management skills. HEC, the National Talent Pool of the government of Pakistan and the British Council have provided invaluable support towards trainings and international conferences. Linkages and collaborations within Pakistan and abroad provide opportunities for learning and networking. LCWU Directorate for Faculty Development has developed effective national and international collaborations for teaching, research, student exchanges and also for the exchange of faculty. The Department of Biotechnology has established research collaboration with the University of California Davis, US for faculty and student exchange.

The Department of Environmental Science has a long-standing relationship with the University College London, which is funded by the British Council’s INSPIRE Programme. Also, Warwick University UK’s IGGY programme for gifted students was launched for intermediate students through 200 scholarships for free access to specialized internet resources to support their studies and to be able to interact with other gifted students around the globe. The Gender Studies Department has been awarded a partner status with the George Washington University under the US State Department University Partnership Programme in which the university will benefit from a grant worth $1.0 million for faculty and student exchange and curriculum development for the department. Overall, LCWU is thankful to the government for the full support to strengthen the university and promote women empowerment through quality higher education.