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 February 11, 2023 at 7:05pm

Islamabad:The public sector development programme ‘Launching of STEM in Pakistan- Phase-1’ has achieved various milestones during the fiscal year 2021-22 to give impetus to Pakistan’s preparations for developing a workforce for the Fifth Industrial Revolution.


According to an official source, the project is being executed through the Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF), Ministry of Science and Technology. Since the initiation date of the project (August 10, 2021), training modules are being developed for the grade IX-XII for which correspondence with national stakeholders including the National Curriculum Council (NCC), Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) and Agha Khan University (AKU), was made, paving the way for making a consolidated document in this regard.

Furthermore, 76 best national scientists were contacted throughout the country and were requested to provide experiments for STEM. A tender for the Development of Training Modules on STEM Education is also in process and is expected to be completed by December 2022. Under the STEM project, 50 higher secondary schools (HSSs) or cadet colleges have been selected by transforming their existing labs into Mini STEM FABLABs, in addition to teacher training programs and module development on STEM education.

The payment of rupees one million was being provided to each school for developing the FABLABS which will provide students an opportunity to get hands-on training regarding state-of-the-art equipment, including design computers, 3D printers, vinyl cutters, and robotics ultimately enabling young minds for a better future. The task of purchasing IT Equipment was completed during FY 2021-22 through a tender and different IT Equipment were purchased and installed in STEM PSF Academy.

The PSDP ‘Launching of STEM in Pakistan, Phase-1’ was initiated as an umbrella project which shall be simultaneously executed across the country with the support of federal and provincial stakeholders or education departments. The major objectives of the STEM project were to officially launch STEM, the modern tool for the promotion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics education in Pakistan in 50 HSS/cadet colleges in the first phase and to coordinate the provision of specialised national and international capacity building programmes on STEM education for science teachers and pedagogues.

The objectives included coordinating the development, introduction and adoption of modern pedagogical tools and interventions for STEM including STEM framework/global best practices; equipping the youth with meaningful learning through hands-on experiences, and improve their cognitive abilities and developing entrepreneurship skills amongst students through STEM education to make them job givers instead of job seekers. The development project ‘Launching of STEM in Pakistan, Phase-I (Revised)’, was approved by the Developmental Department Working Party (DDWP) of the ministry in the meeting held in August 2021 at a total cost of Rs993.784 million with 36 months duration. The administrative approval was issued by the ministry on October 15, 2021.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 11, 2023 at 7:06pm

There is an elitist attitude among some Pakistanis who harp of "poor quality" of Pakistan's STEM education.

They resent rapid increase in access to public higher education, citing quality as an excuse.

Quality is in the eye of the beholder. Pakistani STEM grads are good enough to work in major SiliconValley tech firms. Many NED grads are highly successful here. I know many FAST grads working for Facebook HQ in MenloPark.


Karachi NED grad Sajjad Khan was the head of Mercedes Benz SelfDriving Cars and EV division for many years. He is now on the executive board of Porsche in Germany.


Comment by Riaz Haq on February 16, 2023 at 10:39am

Pakistan brain drain accelerates in latest threat to ailing economy
Experts warn of talent erosion after nearly 1m workers left in 2022


Hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis are leaving for jobs abroad amid the country's financial and security woes -- a brain drain that threatens to further damage the struggling economy.

Figures from the Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment show that 832,339 Pakistanis went overseas for work in 2022, the most since 2016 and the third-highest tally on record. Saudi Arabia was the most preferred destination, attracting 514,909.

Ahmad Jamal, an immigration lawyer in Quetta, said the actual number of people leaving is much larger since the data only covers work visas. He said many categories of emigrants are not included, such as those traveling out on permanent residency visas, student visas and family settlement visas.

The dire state of the Pakistani economy offers few reasons to stay. It is on the verge of collapse, with foreign exchange reserves down to $2.9 billion, enough to cover barely three weeks of imports. Inflation hit 27.6% on the year in January. Per capita income stands at $1,658.

Last week, talks with the International Monetary Fund for the revival of a $7 billion Extended Fund Facility -- vital for keeping the country afloat -- ended inconclusively.

Young Pakistanis, who account for the majority of the population, face bleak prospects. Pakistan's National Human Development Report in 2017 said 64% were younger than 30, while 29% were between the ages of 15 and 29.

"From security to the economy there are many repelling factors, which push youngsters like me away from my homeland," said Atiya Khan, a 25-year business development professional who has been living in the United Arab Emirates with her parents for two decades. She said she does not want to go back to Pakistan and is looking for options to settle in the West.

Tania Baloch, a journalist who previously published a magazine called Balochistan Inside in Karachi, emigrated to Canada a couple of years ago. "I left Pakistan because the future of my kids was not secure there," she said.

Such security concerns have only grown recently, with a surge in terrorism. But many worry that the exodus, particularly skilled workers who accounted for about 90,000 of the departures in 2022, will only compound Pakistan's problems.

Yousaf Nazar, a London-based economist formerly with Citigroup, said anecdotal evidence suggests that Pakistan's business graduates do relatively better abroad. "If some of them leave, it makes the capacity issue [in Pakistan's economy] even worse," he told Nikkei.

Young people are not the only ones rushing for the exit.

Multiple immigration experts said people in their 40s and 50s are also trying to move out of the country.

Jamal, the Quetta lawyer who deals with dozens of hopeful migrants on a monthly basis, said many of his customers are middle-aged or older. "It's unbelievable that a rising number of relatively older people are seriously exploring options to move out of Pakistan due to security and economic issues," he said.

Jamal added that most of the people are liquidating their assets or borrowing loans in Pakistan for immigration and leaving with no intention of returning.

"I know people who once settled abroad and then returned to Pakistan to serve their country," he added. "Now they are also doing their best to revive their immigration status and move out of the country again."

Some downplay the issue. A government official dealing with immigration, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media, argued that the issue is being blown out of proportion.

He said that "800,000 moving, out of a 220 million population, barely makes 0.4% and hence it's not as big an issue as the media is making it."

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 16, 2023 at 11:08am

Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Report on NRIs (Non-resident Indians) and POIs (Persons of Indian Origin)


POIs: 13.5 million

NRIs: 18.7 million

Total: 32.2 million

Top destinations:

USA 4.5 million

UAE 3.5 million

Malaysia 3 million

Saudi Arabia 2.6 million

Myanmar 2 million

UK 1.8 million

Canada 1.6 million

Sri Lanka 1.6 million

South Africa 1.6 million

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 17, 2023 at 8:09am

In mid-March 2022, Innovate Educate & Inspire Pakistan (IEI), a nonprofit organization that works to make high-quality education accessible in the rural northeastern Gilgit Baltistan region, launched the country’s first-ever climate education program for teachers. The region is particularly vulnerable to climate change due to rapidly melting glaciers, and locals have struggled to find economically viable ways to adapt.


Seven educators from across the country took part in the program, which equipped them with the resources to teach children from sixth to eighth grade about climate change and climate action in their schools by translating materials into local languages and engaging in play-based activities. The program was the first of its kind in a country that would months later be reeling from a summer of deadly super floods.

Those floods were one reason that state parties to last year’s United Nations climate change conference in Egypt, known as COP27, approved the creation of a loss and damage fund. Though rich countries had for decades shunned the prospect, Pakistan and other vulnerable countries in the global south helped move climate reparations into the mainstream conversation.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 17, 2023 at 8:16am

Pakistan and IAEA Accelerate Nuclear Cooperation to Address Climate, Food and Health
Michael Amdi Madsen, IAEA Office of Public Information and Communication


The Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the IAEA will increase collaboration in peaceful applications of nuclear science and technology, particularly in agriculture and medicine, to the benefit of the country and its neighbours. That was the outcome of Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi’s two-day trip to Pakistan this week, during which he met with the country’s leadership — including its Prime and Foreign Ministers — and visited numerous nuclear facilities across the country, some of which he inaugurated.

Mr Grossi began his visit by meeting with Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif. The two spoke about the worsening effects of climate change on Pakistan and how nuclear science and IAEA support is helping the country.

For decades Pakistan has been ranked as one of the 10 most vulnerable countries to climate change, and last summer, was inundated with climate-change linked flooding which caused mass displacement of people and economic damages to the tune of USD 40 billion. The IAEA and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in coordination and consultation with Pakistani authorities developed an emergency support package to assist the country in applying nuclear science to better understand the flood’s impact on soils, crops and the potential spread of animal and zoonotic diseases.

The Prime Minister expressed his desire to strengthen collaboration with the IAEA in agriculture and medicine and his support to the Agency’s efforts to promote peace and development worldwide. The two also discussed nuclear safety and security Ukraine, where Mr Grossi is championing efforts to establish a protection zone around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, a facility beset with nuclear safety and security challenges caused by the war in the country.

In a meeting with Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Mr Grossi said opportunities for the peaceful use of nuclear science and technology in Pakistan were plentiful, emphasizing how nuclear applications and IAEA initiatives are addressing climate change and issues of access to cancer care. Mr Bhutto Zardari said that Pakistan and the IAEA will further enhance cooperation and grow the role of nuclear applications in dealing with climate change, water, energy and food security.

In Islamabad, Mr Grossi met with the Minister of Planning and Development, Ahsan Iqbal, to discuss the role of nuclear applications in addressing Pakistan’s vulnerability to climate change. The Director General also met with Pakistani fellows of the IAEA Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship Programme, an initiative seeking to help build gender-balanced capacities in the nuclear sector.

Pakistan currently operates six nuclear power reactors at two sites, that generate about 10 per cent of the country’s total and almost a quarter of its low-carbon electricity. During his trip, Mr Grossi visited one of those sites, Chashma Nuclear Power Plant, 250 kilometres south of Islamabad. Inaugurating the site’s new spent fuel dry storage facility, Mr Grossi highlighted the importance of managing spent fuel safely and securely.

Mr Grossi was welcomed at the Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH), an IAEA partner in work related to human health, nutrition and water analysis. At PINSTECH, Mr Grossi inaugurated a dosimetry laboratory. Mr Grossi also visited the Pakistan Centre of Excellence in Nuclear Security (PCENS), saying he was impressed by the high standard of the facility and that he looked forward to further collaboration.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 17, 2023 at 8:17am

Pakistan and IAEA Accelerate Nuclear Cooperation to Address Climate, Food and Health
Michael Amdi Madsen, IAEA Office of Public Information and Communication


Mr Grossi was welcomed at the Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH), an IAEA partner in work related to human health, nutrition and water analysis. At PINSTECH, Mr Grossi inaugurated a dosimetry laboratory. Mr Grossi also visited the Pakistan Centre of Excellence in Nuclear Security (PCENS), saying he was impressed by the high standard of the facility and that he looked forward to further collaboration.

At the Nuclear Medicine Oncology and Radiotherapy Institute in Islamabad, Mr Grossi inaugurated Cyberknife, a new cancer treatment facility that he described as a milestone for the country. He said Pakistan would be able to support its neighbours with regards to cancer treatment access by becoming a regional centre under Rays of Hope — an IAEA initiative seeking to increase cancer care access in low- and middle-income countries by helping to introduce and improve radiation medicine capacities and build the cancer care workforce.

In Faisalabad, Mr Grossi visited the Nuclear Institute for Agriculture and Biology (NIAB), designating it as an IAEA Collaborating Centre in agriculture and biotechnology. In a special ceremony, Mr Grossi planted a Sago Palm at the site and spoke about the IAEA’s collaboration with the facility in developing climate change resilient cotton varieties. NIAB is also a national laboratory under the IAEA’s ZODIAC initiative for combating zoonotic diseases and future pandemics.

Mr Grossi toured another IAEA Collaborating Centre, the National Institute of Safety and Security, when visiting the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority and meeting with its Chairman Faizan Mansoor. He was also honoured to inaugurate the National Radiation Emergency Coordination Centre (NRECC) in Islamabad.

Visiting the headquarters of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), Mr Grossi had a meaningful exchange with the Commission on the comprehensive and cohesive nature of the country’s peaceful nuclear programme. Mr Grossi's visit to Pakistan was on the invitation of PAEC Chairman Raja Ali Raza Anwar, whom he thanked for Pakistan's hospitality during the two days. The Director General concluded his visit in Islamabad with a seminar on climate change mitigation, during which he highlighted the role of the IAEA in supporting climate-vulnerable countries in addressing the climate crisis with nuclear science and technology.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 18, 2023 at 9:11pm

Enabling digital transformation


By Jorgen C Arentz RostrupFebruary 17, 2023
Digital technologies in Pakistan could create up to Rs9.7 trillion ($59.7 billion) in economic value by 2030, if they are fully leveraged. This is equivalent to about 19 per cent of the country’s GDP in 2020.

‘Digital Lives Decoded 2022’, a study conducted by Telenor Asia, found that 54 per cent of Pakistanis believe mobile devices and mobile technology have significantly improved their careers and aided in developing their skills, with women reporting that their mobile devices have significantly improved their quality of life.

Mobile phones are also widely seen as a way of generating income. Nearly half of the people surveyed in the study feel mobile usage provided work and income opportunities that were unavailable before the pandemic. In Pakistan, 38 per cent of the respondents believe mobile access has created new opportunities for them.

Our research points to mobile connectivity being an enabler of productivity, progress, economic opportunity, and flexibility. Enabling people to connect to what matters most to them, accessibility to information, increasing productivity and an easy and safe way to manage their finances, are just a few of the many advantages of an increasingly digitized world.

However, privacy and security have become serious concerns in every country we surveyed for the Digital Lives Decoded 2022, including Pakistan.

In the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2023 unveiled last month, the failure of cyber security measures, including loss of privacy, data fraud or theft, and cyber espionage was identified as one of the top five risks that Pakistan faces. The Global Cyber Security Index, which measures the commitment of countries to cybersecurity, placed Pakistan 18th out of 38 Asia-Pacific nations, trailing Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India.


Due to an unprecedented rise in the cost of operations in Pakistan, the sector’s financial health has been severely impacted. The need for further investments to make customers and businesses in Pakistan less vulnerable to cyber threats is urgent. Such priorities include the build-up of national capabilities and capacities in cyber security. The country already produces over 20,000 Information Technology (IT) graduates each year, has nurtured over 700 tech start-ups since 2010, and has the fourth highest earning IT workforce in the world, so there is tremendous potential left untapped.

There is an urgent need for the telecom sector to get the much-needed fiscal space and support to continue investing in and modernizing the infrastructure which would meet the digital needs of Pakistani society, enable the economic recovery and support the government’s longer term nation building ambitions.

As an owner of two of Pakistan’s most significant telco and mobile financial companies, Telenor looks forward to continued engagement with the government, civil society and all other digital ecosystem players in the country to support the continued digital development of Pakistan.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 19, 2023 at 6:30pm

Gallup Pakistan


As a developing country, Pakistan has been facing a serious challenge to ensure all children, particularly the most disadvantaged, attend, stay, and learn in school. While enrollment and retention rates are improving, progress has been slow to improve education indicators in Pakistan. Undertaking an analysis of facts and figures available in The Pakistan Statistical Yearbook 2022 published by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, this press release provides an overview of the number of students who have appeared for and passed their Matriculation exams by Sex, Subject Groups and Demographics.

Today’s Topic is “Results Statistics by Sex and Groups (Matriculation)”

Key Findings:

1) There has been a 36% decrease in the number of students who appeared for their Matriculation in the Arts Group from 2011 to 2020

2) There has been a 65% increase in the number of students who appeared for their Matriculation in the Science Group from 2011 to 2020

3) 22% more females than males appeared for their Matriculation in the Arts Group in 2020, while the number of students matriculating in Arts subjects has decreased overall in the last decade

4) 57% more males than females appeared for their Matriculation in the Science Group in 2020, while the number of students appearing for their matriculation in the Science subjects has increased overall in the last decade

5) Punjab has faced a 26% decrease in the number of students who did their matriculation in the Arts group in the last decade, while in all the other provinces, the number increased

6) Balochistan has seen a 70% decrease in the number of students who matriculated in the Science group over the last decade, while in all the other provinces, the number has significantly increased

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 22, 2023 at 5:51pm

Pioneering Stem Cell Research Conference at The Aga Khan University Brings Together Global Experts


The 8th Annual Surgical Conference in Pakistan aimed to promote collaboration between clinical specialties and basic science by convening experts from academia, research labs, and healthcare organizations worldwide. The conference focused on the latest developments, challenges, and opportunities in the field of stem cell research and its implications for surgery, with the aim of fostering innovative solutions for fatal diseases, such as heart diseases, strokes, burns, various cancers, diabetes and more. These are increasingly burdening the healthcare system and economy of Pakistan, and the overall quality of life of Pakistanis.

The chief guest, Prof Atta-ur-Rehman who is a UNESCO Science Laureate and Professor Emeritus, International Centre for Chemical & Biological Sciences, University of Karachi, said: “Sharing ideas is the first step towards innovation, and this conference is an unprecedented move towards encouraging discussions about the challenges associated with the field of stem cell science." Prof Rehman has previously served as Pakistan's Federal Minister of Education and Science and Technology.

50 experts from around the world participated in the discourse, with keynote addresses by Helena Pereira De Melo from Nova School of Law Lisbon, Portugal, Catherine Prescott from Cambridge Network, UK, and Marita Eisemann-Klein from Germany, to name a few.

Distinguished guest speakers, most of whom were invited from outside of Pakistan, delivered talks at the conference. Professor Arnold Richard Kriegstein, from the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research at the University of California and San Francisco (UCSF), commended the Aga Khan University for its pioneering efforts in initiating stem cell research in Pakistan and expressed pride in collaborating with the University to establish the stem cell center at AKU.

Professor Ather Enam, the Scientific Director of AKU's Juma Research Laboratory emphasized the significance of the conference stating that it was a one-of-a-kind event in the University's history that centered around the theme of bringing stem cell research from bench to bedside and into clinical trials. It was a unique opportunity for field experts, policymakers, and other stakeholders to collaborate and build momentum towards this goal.

Dr. Saleem Islam, the Chair of Surgery at AKU, stressed the importance of conducting basic science research in the region, despite the difficulties that come with it. Dr. Islam asserted that the reason AKU and Pakistan pursue this type of research is precisely because it presents a formidable challenge and that they must persevere in their commitment to undertaking challenging work.

In addition to the main conference, a series of pre-conference workshops were conducted to provide researchers with hands-on training and capacity building in stem cell science and biotechnology. The event also provided a platform for young researchers to showcase their work through oral and poster presentations and engage with their peers from around the world, thus fostering the exchange of scientific knowledge and building translational bridges. The conference proceedings are now available as a special supplement in the Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association.​​


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