UET Peshawar Dedicates Sub-Campus To Afghan Students

Neighbours including Pakistan, and some Central Asian countries had been called upon to extend visas, scholarships and university facilities to Afghan students  particularly women students – even before the Taliban entered the Afghan capital Kabul on 15 August, as many students were forced to flee universities in provinces that fell to the Taliban advance.

Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries are opening up to students fleeing the conflict-torn country after the Taliban take-over, amid fears that disruption and uncertainty could make it difficult for them to continue higher education in Afghanistan.

The provincial government of Pakistan’s province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which borders Afghanistan, announced that Afghan students would be provided with a dedicated sub-campus of the University of Engineering and Technology (UET).

There are already 132 Afghan students enrolled in various engineering disciplines, according to a 12 August announcement by Kamran Bangash, special assistant to the provincial chief minister of higher education and information, while addressing a ceremony to welcome a new cohort of 175 Afghan students who qualified for scholarships.

University of Engineering and Technology steps up

Iftikhar Hussain, vice-chancellor of UET, which is based in the provincial capital Peshawar, told University World News: “The announcement for setting up a dedicated campus of our university for Afghan students has been made keeping in view expanding higher education relations with neighbouring Afghanistan and to facilitate non-funded students to get higher education in Pakistan at affordable cost.”

He added: “The interest of Afghan students to study in Pakistan is evident from the fact that 25,000 Afghan students participated in the test conducted this year for the award of scholarships.”

Under Pakistan’s Afghanistan-dedicated Allama Muhammad Iqbal Scholarships Programme, the first phase of which was started in 2007, Afghan students awarded the scholarship can join any university in Pakistan if they pass the admission criteria. The majority of Afghan students opt for universities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa because of the similarity in culture and ease of travel to Afghanistan from the border province.

Kamran Bangash said at the ceremony that besides scholarships, academic facilitation would be provided to other Afghan students wishing to acquire university qualifications from Pakistan. He told the audience: “This is being done under special directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan.”

Support from Pakistan

The Pakistan government has, so far, not made any announcement about the future of higher education relations with Afghanistan after the 15 August takeover of Kabul by the Taliban. However, it is expected that the decision to facilitate Afghan university students will not be withdrawn.

UET’s Hussain said: “Our facilitation to Afghan students wishing to study in Pakistan aims at strengthening people-to-people relations and promoting bilateral cooperation in higher education and thus it should not be affected by change in the political regime in Afghanistan.”

Jehanzeb Khan, project director of Afghan scholarships at Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission, told University World News: “We hope the scholarship programme shall not be disturbed due to the change of government in Afghanistan. It is between the two countries and should not be affected by any domestic political change.”

Pakistan hosts a large number of higher education students from Afghanistan who are mostly on scholarships provided by Pakistan’s government.

Pakistan initially provided scholarships and a special university quota for three million Afghan refugees who crossed into Pakistan after the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and after the United States operation to dislodge the Taliban from power in 2001.

Later, in 2007, the first phase of the Allam Muhammad Iqbal Scholarship Programme – named after a 20th century Pakistani national poet – was introduced by Pakistan’s federal government to promote bilateral relations and as part of its civilian assistance for reconstruction in Afghanistan.

The second phase of this scholarship programme for Afghan students was implemented in 2020. It had been announced just days after former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani visited Islamabad in June 2019. The second phase offered another 3,000 scholarships to Afghan students over a period of four years, in engineering and medical education fields.

According to Pakistan’s foreign office, more than 4,000 fully-funded higher education students from Afghanistan and another 50,000 Afghans have already graduated from Pakistani universities and returned to their country.

Source University World News

Arsalan Ahmad

Arsalan Ahmad is a Research Engineer working on 2-D Materials, graduated from the Institute of Advanced Materials, Bahaudin Zakariya University Multan, Pakistan. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/arsalanahmad-materialsresearchengr/

Leave a Reply