To address the challenges prevalent in Pakistani higher education and to discuss the role of wider community ownership in making it accessible to all in Pakistan, Wasif Rizvi, President Habib University, was invited to be the keynote speaker at an interactive webinar, ‘Mobilizing Community for Higher Education,’ organized by the Corporate Pakistan Group on June 19, 2021. Adnan Rizvi, the Head of Advisory at KPMG and a Managing Committee member of Corporate Pakistan Group, moderated the session.
In his introductory remarks, Mr. Rizvi lauded Habib University saying, “…With its unique educational model; it has filled the gap existing in the higher education landscape of Pakistan, and this has been possible due to its commendable leadership. By organizing intellectually nuanced events and hosting global scholars on its campus, Mr. [Wasif] Rizvi has made a mark that was unimaginable for Pakistani academicians before.”
President Rizvi began by explaining that Habib University, as part of its founding values, placed emphasis on the importance of building communities to serve the greater cause of societal development through support for higher education. In his presentation, he explained the grave issues encountered by students in Pakistan in terms of intellectual experience and access challenge and how there is an urgent need for reshaping philanthropy towards higher education in order to create an engaged and thoughtful community of supporters dedicated to the cause of transforming the future of Pakistan.
Speaking about the fundamental impediment associated with the tradition of giving in Pakistan, President Rizvi highlighted that Pakistan is one of the most charitable nations in the world. However, despite the generous support in various areas, Pakistan significantly lags in the Human Development Index, resulting in the majority of problems the country faces today, including lack of good leadership, dearth of innovation and creativity, and volatile peace and security issues.
“Education is a major indicator in a country’s human development index. So if you lift your higher education index, Human Development Index and so many other development possibilities will go up with it,” he explained.
Elaborating about community ownership of higher education institutions globally and especially in the US, he pointed out that universities in the US are co-owned and supported by the generous contributions of a larger community, making them accessible to students from diverse socio-economic backgrounds.
Elaborating on the access challenges faced by Pakistani students in receiving quality higher education, he highlighted that, “Most talented Pakistani students have no access to top universities due to exorbitant cost of attending leading universities.” He further explained that despite Pakistan being the most generous nation in the world, this generosity is not allowing the talented youth of Pakistan to get into higher education because only a sliver of this contribution is directed towards higher education.
In order to find lasting solutions to the societal challenges Pakistan faces, Habib University had taken it upon itself to bring transformative changes to the higher education landscape of Pakistan.
Expressing his gratitude to the committed community of Mohsineen for their generous support, he remarked, “Habib University is supported by a dedicated community of supporters who believe in our mission. Due to their support, we provide unparalleled access to higher education.”
In response to a question about ways to bring the community on board for the cause of higher education, President Rizvi introduced the audience to the Habib Giving Web App. The Giving App is an initiative by Habib University to make it easier for anyone to become part of its growing community of supporters and play a substantial role in supporting the cause of higher education in Pakistan.
In his concluding remarks, President Rizvi said that there is no reason that higher education in Pakistan cannot be of high quality, provided the community takes ownership. Sharing his goals for the future, he added that his primary aim is to engage people from Pakistan in the cause of taking ownership of higher education and to reshape philanthropy to bring about the necessary changes in the higher education landscape of Pakistan and to make quality education accessible to all regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds.
The Corporate Pakistan Group, founded by Mr. Muhammad Azfar Ahsan, represents the elite of Pakistan’s national intelligentsia, including corporate and business leaders, government officials, distinguished academicians, media practitioners, and foreign policymakers.