Higher education.

ACCORDING to a recent UNDP report, almost 30 per cent of our total population is in the higher-education age bracket, aged 15-29, and this percentage will continue to rise. The pressure to deliver is intense with over 65 million young people ready to be trained for marketable jobs. MismanageAment is at its peak with funding roadblocks, lack of skilled teachers and limited resoAurces hindering innovation and progress.

A radical new wave of disruption is needed for those who wish to learn from cutting-edge technology, those who wish to keep abreast of global developments and those who will eventually be the movers and shakers of our domestic socioeconomic systems.

What does this disruption mean for young people restricted by archaic policies? One of the biggest challenges faced by higher education in Pakistan is the gaping divide between skills and content. Students cannot be educated in a vacuum where the content neither addresses real-life challenges, nor enriches their experience. Students graduate in overwhelming numbers from our local colleges and spend years in underpaid jobs that don't reflect their qualifications.

The fact is, their qualifications don't make them market-ready, don't teach them innovative skills for entrepreneurship and don't develop their ability to learn on the job. Inequities in our education system are often cited as the culprit; however, even those who manage to go through higher education mostly end up walking away with a degree that symbolises little more than the stamp it carries.

A radical new wave of disruption is needed.

Without collaboration with international universities, this scenario may persist. With their enrichment programmes, strong linkages with the needs of industry, and growth mindset, international universities have much to offer us. There was a time when qualified faculty from well-reputed international universities were seen teaching, conducting research and working closely with local faculty and students. Gradually, the trend not only faded but collaborative efforts across borders - including student or faculty exchange programmes - became few and far between.

Higher education in any country is the mainstay of the economy. A focus on the state-of-the-art buildings that house our colleges and universities will show how skewed the priorities are. Beautiful buildings are seen teeming with life and hope, with young people chatting away. Attend a single class and it becomes obvious how that sense...

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