Over A Million Pakistani University Students Enrolled in STEM Fields

Over a million students, about a third of total 3 million students (1.4 million women, 1.6 million men) enrolled in Pakistani universities and degree colleges, are currently studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM Education), according to data released by the country's Higher Education Commission (HEC). Of these students, 415,008 are studying natural sciences and mathematics, 276,659 are in information and communication technologies (ICT), 178,260 are in health sciences and 166,457 are in engineering. Pakistan produced 157,102 STEM graduates last year, putting it among the world's top dozen or so countries. About 43,000 of these graduates are in information technology (IT).  

Student Enrollment By Field of Study at Pakistani Higher Education ...

Nearly half a million Pakistani women are currently enrolled in science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses at universities, accounting for nearly 46% of all STEM students in higher education institutions in the country. 

Clockwise From Top Left: Nergis Mavalvala, Maria Abrar, Maheen Adamson, Tasneem Zehra Husain, Sundas Khalid, Asifa Akhtar

Acceptance rate in Pakistani universities and degree colleges was just 13.5% last year. Only 541,043 students were accepted from 4,085,185 students who applied. The country produced 471,306 university graduates in 2020-21. Of these, 157,102 were in STEM fields, including 43,000 graduates in information technology (IT). 

Pakistan Higher Education Admission and Graduation Statistics. Sour...

In absolute terms, Pakistan probably ranks among the top dozen or so nations producing university graduates in STEM and IT fields. However, the country lags significantly behind its lower middle income peers in terms of percentage of students enrolled in universities. Only 12% of young people in the 18-25 age group are currently enrolled in higher education institutions. This is about half of the 25% average for South Asia. The data from the World Bank shows that the higher education enrollment rate was extremely low in Pakistan until 2000 when late President Musharraf decided to significantly boost investment in building universities and hire faculty to rapidly increase access to higher education in the country. 

Tertiary Education Enrollment Rates. Source: World Bank

As Pakistan struggles with multiple serious crises,  these young men and women now studying in the nation's universities and colleges offer hope for its bright future. In fact, the vast majority of Pakistanis feel that they have better lives than their parents did, and they think their children will have even better lives than theirs, according to a Gallup International Poll of 64 countries conducted from August to October last year. The poll asked two questions: 1) Do you feel your life is better, worse or roughly similar to that  of your parents? and 2) Do you think your children will have a better, worse or roughly the same life as you? The answers to these questions reveal that Pakistanis are among the top 5 most positive nations among 64 countries polled by Gallup International. Anecdotal evidence in terms of packed shopping malls and restaurants in Pakistan's major cities confirms it. Such positivity augurs well for Pakistan's prospects of successfully dealing with the current crises. It will drive the nation's recovery. 

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Comment by Riaz Haq on August 16, 2023 at 7:09pm

HEC and Coursera Offer Exclusive Licenses to Pakistani Students

The Higher Education Commission (HEC of Pakistan) has partnered with Coursera to offer free licenses to students. This opportunity is available on a first-come, first-served basis, so interested individuals are encouraged to act quickly. To take advantage of this offer, students can register at the HEC’s e-services portal.


The program is being launched under the Distance Learning and Skill Enhancement Initiative (DLSEI), an initiative by the HEC, which aims to equip students from higher education institutions with updated knowledge by engaging top-ranking universities across the globe.

This initiative provides students with access to online courses and certifications to enhance their skills. This partnership between HEC and Coursera is a great opportunity for students to expand their knowledge and skills.

Coursera is a leading online learning platform that offers courses from top universities and organizations around the world. With a free license, students will have access to a wide range of courses in various subjects.

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 18, 2023 at 7:05pm

Forget world domination, India won’t catch up with China any time soon


It will take many years of stellar economic growth for India to begin matching China in economic importance, and no amount of miraculous thinking or “China plus one” investment is likely to accelerate that.
Also, many other important economic indicators remain problematic. India accounted for about 1 per cent of global manufacturing in 2000, compared with 7 per cent for China. By last year, India’s share had grown to 3 per cent against China’s 31 per cent. In 2000, India accounted for just 1 per cent of the world’s exports, and China 2 per cent. By last year, China accounted for 15 per cent of global exports against India’s share of 2 per cent.

India enthusiasts celebrate the youthfulness of India’s population, but ignore the reality that this is a problem rather than an advantage when they are poorly educated or even illiterate. To accommodate them, India must produce an estimated 90 million new jobs before 2030.
Allison reminds us that China produces twice as many STEM-qualified (in science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates as India, spends almost three times the percentage of its GDP on research and development, and produces 65 per cent of the world’s artificial intelligence patents (vs India’s 3 per cent).
As Bloomberg noted in April: “India is far behind China in key aspects important for manufacturing that include infrastructure, bureaucracy, attention to detail and even a sense of urgency.”

Supporters of India in search of a “hobble China” narrative have been encouraged by companies such as Apple and its main Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn, which have made tentative steps to build investments in India, but ignore the challenges they have faced, and the reality that China remains their main manufacturing base.
They have ignored the withdrawals of companies like the Royal Bank of Scotland, Harley-Davidson and Citibank, and the many other companies with plans on hold. They have tended to celebrate the deliberate obstacles to prospective investment in China, even where China is a natural partner and the benefit of collaboration is huge.
Rather than harbouring dreams of dominating the world, India’s policymakers would benefit us all by opening up their economy and recognising that even if India does not surpass China, it can still be a huge driver in the global economy. China and India together account for one third of the world’s population, one third of the global consumer class, and a quarter of all consumer spending in purchasing power parity terms.
The 21st century may not be India’s century, but it is almost certainly Asia’s. Washington needs to come to terms with that, and perhaps New Delhi does too.

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 18, 2023 at 9:49pm

Top Source Countries of Immigrant STEM Workers in US in 2019

1. India (720,000) 2. China (273,000) 3. Mexico (119,000), 4. Vietnam (100,000), 5. Philippines (87,000), 6. South Korea (84,000), 7. Canada (56,000), 8. Taiwan (53,000), 9. Russia (45,000), 10. Pakistan (35,000).


Since 2000, the share of foreign-born workers in the STEM workforce has increased by more than 40 percent.

The share of foreign-born workers in STEM occupations has grown significantly in recent years. As shown in Table 2, the number of foreign-born STEM workers increased from 1.2 million (16.4 percent of the STEM workforce) in 2000 to 2.5 million (23.1 percent of the STEM workforce) in 2019.

Because immigrant STEM workers tend to possess skills that complement those of their U.S.-born co-workers, the presence of immigrants in the workplace increases the productivity (and therefore the wages) of all workers. Moreover, innovation by immigrant workers increases the revenue of the firms in which they work, which enables employers to hire more workers. The overall share of workers who are foreign-born and hold advanced degrees from either a U.S. or a foreign university is also associated with higher levels of employment among U.S.-born workers. A 10 percent increase in the share of foreign-born workers with advanced degrees working in STEM occupations boosted the U.S.-born employment rate by 0.03 percent. This means that every additional 100 foreign-born workers with an advanced degree working in a STEM occupation creates roughly 86 jobs for U.S. workers.

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 19, 2023 at 10:42am

Outbound mobility trends for five key sending markets (of international students) in Asia (in 2022)

Bangladesh (70,000) , Nepal (125,500), Pakistan (103,190), Philippines (62,000) and Thailand (40,720).


The most recent UNESCO data (2020) counts 64,065 Pakistani students abroad in higher education. Outbound mobility from Pakistan was over 103,190 in 2022 when we consult more recent statistics published by government sources in various destinations. There have been large increases in Pakistani students recorded recently in the UK, Australia, US, Canada, and Germany.

The top three destinations for Pakistani students currently are UAE, UK, and Australia.

UAE: 24,865 in 2020 according to UNESCO
UK: 23,075 in 2021/22 (+62% y-o-y)
Australia: 15,875 in 2022 (+15%)
US: 8,770 in 2021/22 (+17%)
Germany: 7,115 in 2021/22 (+22%)
Canada: 6,405 in 2022 (+38%)
Kyrgyzstan: 6,000 in 2020 according to UNESCO
Malaysia: 4,700 in 2021
Turkey: 2,385 in 2020 according to UNESCO
Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Sweden, Qatar: At least 4,000 in 2020 according to UNESCO


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