Aga Khan University
The Aga Khan University (AKU) is a coeducational research university spread over three continents. It was granted its charter in 1983 as Pakistan’s first private, autonomous university. AKU was founded by His Highness the Aga Khan, and is part of the Aga Khan Development Network. AKU is an international University with 11 teaching sites spread over 8 countries – Afghanistan, Kenya, Pakistan, Tanzania, Uganda, Syria, Egypt and the United Kingdom. Its principal campus is located in the metropolitan city of Karachi, Pakistan with another major teaching hospital in Kenya. A 450-million dollar campus is also planned for Arusha, in north-eastern Tanzania to be built in the next 15 years.
According to the Higher Education Commission (HEC) ranking of Universities in Pakistan, The Aga Khan University ranked first in Health Sciences, with a cumulative rank score higher than any other university in Pakistan. The HEC also ranked the University number one overall in Pakistan based on the global impact of its research.
AKU’s objective is to promote human welfare by disseminating knowledge and providing instruction, training, research and service in the health sciences, education, liberal arts, the sciences and such other branches of learning as the University may determine.
Aga Khan University
|Endowment||>USD $1 billion|
|Chancellor||Prince Karim Aga Khan IV|
|Location||Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan (main campus); additional sites in Kenya, United Kingdom, Tanzania, Afghanistan, Uganda, Syria, Egypt, india|
|Affiliations||HEC, UGC, ACU|
AKU is a non-denominational institution open to all, irrespective of religion, ethnicity, gender or national origin. Student enrollment is non-discriminatory and among the most competitive in Pakistan. AKU alumni have gone on to assume faculty positions at several prestigious universities in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Forty-four percent of the University’s faculty are women, many in senior posts. Fifty percent of students in the Medical College are also women. The University’s admissions policy is needs-blind and based on merit. Over 33 percent of the students receive financial aid. AKU attracts students from all over Pakistan and several other countries, with diverse backgrounds, cultures and religions on one campus, fostering a sense of camaraderie, and friendship.
In its first two decades, AKU’s major development focus was in the fields of health and education. In the decade ahead, the University plans to move beyond professional education towards becoming a comprehensive university, with the establishment of a Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The new Faculty will offer postgraduate and professional training, with the objective of developing leaders for the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.
In addition, the University is in the process of planning new academic and research units. These include an Institute of Economic Growth and Society and an Institute of Planning and Management of Human Settlements. Another programme under consideration is an Institute of Human Development, which would be dedicated to advancing the understanding of the effects and conditions of early childhood on subsequent well-being and performance, and the application of this understanding to the development of interventions and evaluation to assess their potential efficacy and applicability.
Scientific Research and Clinical Trials
The Aga Khan University accounts for 70% of all biomedical research in Pakistan while the remaining 30 per cent is shared by all the other institutions. AKU emphasizes the importance of scientific research and maintains an advanced and organized infrastructure to support this endeavour. AKU publishes more research articles in peer-reviewed, indexed internationally recognised journals than any other university in Pakistan. Scientific research is an integral part of the academic life at the University; faculty promotions are dependent on publications in indexed journals while most medical students have published by the time they graduate.
The University maintains a separate Research Office to guide and support research conducted at the University. A University Research Council also funds grants after a competitive review process facilitated by a Grants Review Committee. Particular emphasis is also placed on community related health sciences research. AKU also organizes several International and National research workshops and seminars. A Health Sciences Research Assembly is also held annually in which faculty and students present their research. Recent discoveries made at AKU have made headlines in international and local news outlets.
The University is also the site for several NIH clinical trials.
Campuses and Facilities
The Aga Khan University is an international university, currently operating on campuses in Central and South Asia, East Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Existing campuses and international programmes include:
- Faculty of Health Sciences located on a stunningly gorgeous 84-acre (340,000 m2) campus in the heart of Karachi, Pakistan, built with an estimated cost of 450 plus million US $ in the 1980s
- Aga Khan University Health Sciences campus in Nairobi, Kenya
- A USD 500 million campus for the University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences is currently under development in Karachi Pakistan. An area of 1,100 acres (4.5 km2) has been acquired just outside Karachi, and Payette Associates are the project architects. Student enrollment is planned for 2011
- Institute for Educational Development in the Karimabad area of Karachi, Pakistan and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
- Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations in London, United Kingdom;
- A USD 450 million campus planned for Arusha, in north-eastern Tanzania to be built in the next 15 years.
- Advanced Nursing Studies (ANS) Programmes at campuses in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda;
- Programmes for capacity development for teachers and nurses in Afghanistan, Egypt and Syria;
Sports and Rehabilitation Centre
The Sports and Rehabilitation Centre is built in a landscaped setting at the AKU Health Sciences campus. The Centre offers facilities of international standard for various indoor, outdoor and water sports. Its Olympic-sized swimming pool is unique in Pakistan. Other features include a sports ground with three cricket pitches and a 480-metre jogging track, four tennis courts, a patients’ rehabilitation centre, a children’s play area, and a well-equipped gymnasium.
On May 30, 2011, AKU announced launch of new integrated library system, Symphony, a product of world renowned ILS company SirsiDynix. The AKU libraries’ online public access catalogue (OPAC) called SAFARI (Search, Access, Find, And, Retrieve Information). It is also reachable through the library pages at AKU internet and intranet websites.
AKU has several well-equipped libraries on its campuses in three continents. Brief is as under:
- The Faculty of Health Sciences Library at Karachi, Pakistan supports educational, research and clinical activities and programmes of Aga Khan University. This library has 20,000 books in print and online access to 50,000 e-books. The library also houses 40,000 bound volumes of scholarly journals and has online access to 12,000 scientific journals available from 25 different online resources that includes ScienceDirect, MDConsult, PubMed, Uptodate, Mosby, Springerlink, McGraw-Hill’s Access Science, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Ovid and many others. The library is part of WHO EMRO libraries network and actively involved in sharing material with partner libraries.
- The library at Aga Khan University Institute for Educational Development (AKU-IED) Karachi, Pakistan provides resources to support the Institute’s academic and research work. The library provides a range of resources in print and electronic mediums to support teaching, learning and research activities of AKU-IED. Over 24,000 books, 2,000 reports, and 66 subscribed journals are available for academic or research pursuits. The electronic collection includes audio and video cassettes, educational CDs, electronic journals and databases.
- AKU-IED’s Professional Development Centre Northern Areas (PDCN) Library at Gilgit, Pakistan is the first educational automated library of northern areas of Pakistan that is providing excellent services and facilities to fulfill the information needs of its clients. The library also provides mobile library service to Whole School Improvement Programmes (WSIP) schools for teachers and students. The library has 18,000 books, selective thesis and subscribed to several journals with full-text access.
- AKU-IED’s Professional Development Centre Chitral (PDCC) library providing high quality services to course participants, faculty, and educational researchers. PDCC library has also introduced mobile library service in the area, that provides various type of reading materials to various schools (particularly schools under the projects of SIMS and ECED). The purpose of this service is to facilitate and enhance students’ learning capabilities and promote reading habits.
- Aga Khan University – Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC) library at London, United Kingdom aims to meet the teaching needs of the Institute’s academic programmes and to build a significant and distinctive scholarly research collection on Muslim cultures and societies. Emphasis is placed on the published contributions of contemporary scholars in areas and languages of interest to the Institute. The research collection of the library comprises numerous primary and secondary texts and serials of scholarly value, in a range of languages. It generally avoids duplicating the significant holdings of neighbouring libraries such as School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and the British Library. Currently this library has over 8,000 titles and around 100 periodicals.
- The Faculty of Health Sciences Library at Nairobi, Kenya is committed to supporting the functions of the University in realising quality education and health care. The library is proud to have rich collection in the health sciences area and will endeavour to make this a better collection and a point of reference for other institutions offering similar courses in Kenya. As a result of limitations in collection development, emphasis is put in the exploitation of e-resources. Through the local consortium, the library benefits from the PERI online resources and the (WHO) HINARI database. The library also subscribes to e-databases like Uptodate, Cochrane Library, Emeraldinsight and has access to others like MEDLINE.
- The Faculty of Health Sciences Library at Dar es Salaam, Tanzania has a book collection of over 2,235 volumes. In addition to this the library’s educational resources include audio and video DVDs, CDs and VCDs with a fully equipped multimedia centre. The library also has dissertations, educational reports, journal articles. The library is also accessing various online journals through PERI programme.
- The Institute for Educational Development Library at Dar es Salaam, Tanzania has a book collection of over 3,000 volumes. It also has a small collection of fiction. Educational Resources in DVD, CD, VCD, video and audio formats complete with a multimedia centre form part of the collection. Apart from print resources, the library has access to over 7,000 online journals.
- The Faculty of Health Sciences Library at Kampala, Uganda has an important role as a major partner in teaching, learning and research activities of the Nursing programmes. The library complies with the rules and regulations for university libraries issued by the National Council for Higher Education of Uganda (UNCHE). This library is part of PERI prgramme and is accessing various online journals.
Students come from all over Pakistan and several other countries in the world, including the US, UK, Canada and the Middle East after a highly rigorous admission process that includes a competitive entrance exam and interviews. AKU prides itself on the diversity of its student body. Most choose to live in the hostels on the gorgeous Stadium Road campus although a fair number of students are locally from Karachi. Male and female students have separate hostels located on campus.
Faculty of Health Sciences
Established in 1983, the Aga Khan University Medical College offers various undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. Its curricular objectives include clinical competence both in community settings and hospitals, as well as the assessment of health and prevention of disease in communities through the primary health care programmes that AKU monitors in a number of urban squatter settlements.
The College has agreements with leading academic institutions, including Harvard University in the United States, McGill and McMaster Universities in Canada and Karolinska Institute in Sweden, which have contributed to faculty and curriculum development. More recent affiliations have been established with the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada and University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA. These partnerships enable higher training and research, specifically in areas where such opportunities are not available in Pakistan.
Programme offerings include:
- Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree (A five-year undergraduate programme equivalent to US MD)
- Master of Science in Clinical Research conjoint with AKU-PGME residency/fellowship in clinical disciplines
- Master of Science in Epidemiology & Biostatistics
- Master of Science in Health Policy & Management
- Master of Bioethics
- PhD in Health Sciences
- Designed to train professionals as a leader in their respective fields of study.
- Extensive Postgraduate Medical Education (PGME) programme comprised currently of an Internship, 25 Residency and 16 Fellowship programmes in clinical disciplines.
School of Nursing
The Aga Khan University School of Nursing (AKU-SON) was established in 1980, becoming the first academic component of AKU and its Faculty of Health Sciences. Since its inception, the AKU-SON has played a leading role in establishing an internationally acceptable model for nursing education and practice in Pakistan. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and McMaster University have provided valuable assistance to AKU-SON.
Programme offerings include:
- A four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing BScN
- A two-year Post-RN BScN
- A Master of Science in Nursing MScN
The University’s first academic initiative outside Pakistan, the Advanced Nursing Studies (ANS) Programme, began in Uganda in 2000 and was followed by programmes in Kenya and Tanzania. The ANS Programme is designed to improve the quality of patient care by encouraging practising nurses to enhance their expertise through the pursuit of higher education.
In 2000, AKU-SON received its Charter in the Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI). STTI is an international honour society of nursing, with over a quarter million members representing more than 90 countries through its chapters in colleges and universities in Australia, Canada, China, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States.
Affiliated teaching hospitals
- Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi
- Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi
Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Based on the strategic vision outlined in the Aga Khan University Chancellor’s Commission Report of 1994 the University is in the process of creating a Faculty of Arts and Sciences (AKU-FAS). The Faculty will be located on a new campus just outside Karachi, Pakistan and by 2012 is expected to have up to 1,600 students. It will offer a liberal arts education with the aims of developing skills in critical thinking and analysis, raising proficiency in verbal and written communication, enhancing human resource development in the region, and advancing understanding in particular academic disciplines.
The Faculty’s academic prospectus has been developed by a planning group chaired by Dr Robert Edwards, an AKU Trustee and former President of Bowdoin College, and was approved by the University’s Board of Trustees in December 2002. In addition to undergraduate programmes, the Faculty plans to develop a limited number of graduate programmes in its areas of strength, and expects to contribute to widening the curriculum for students in the Medical College and the School of Nursing.
Institute for Educational Development
The Aga Khan University Institute for Educational Development (AKU-IED) was established in 1993. Its facilities are located in a Professional Development Centre (PDC) which functions as a training and support facility for professional teachers and education managers.
AKU-IED focuses on the development of educational systems in the developing world. Its major focus is on improving the performance of teachers and other stakeholders (education managers belonging to public and private sectors) through professional development, ultimately leading to school improvement. It also engages in outreach activities through a network of Professional Development Centres in Pakistan, Central Asia and East Africa.
The Institute offers a series of professional development programmes for teachers and other educators, as well as graduate programmes.
- A two-month Certificate in Education: Curriculum Areas
- A ten-week Certificate in Education: Educational Leadership and Management
- A one-year field-based Advanced Diploma in Education: Curriculum Areas
- A one-year Advanced Diploma in Education: Educational Leadership and Management
- Master of Education programme
- Focused on teacher education. The aim of the programme is to produce graduates who are exemplary teachers and effective teacher educators.
- PhD in Education programme
- A four-year, full-time programme that aims to develop high quality educational researchers who will be able to undertake a range of responsibilities and leadership roles in research and development.
The Institute offers its programmes in cooperation with schools and a number of partner institutions including the Aga Khan Education Services, non-governmental organizations, community-based organisations, and some public educational institutes. It has developed these programmes with assistance from its partners – the University of Toronto and the University of Oxford.
The Aga Khan University Examination Board (AKU-EB) offers high quality examinations in English and Urdu, conforming with international standards for examinations. It was established in response to appeals made to University in 1995 by a group of schools in Karachi seeking an alternate examination board that encouraged the development of reasoning and critical skills rather than rote learning in its examinations. Following consultations with educationists, policy makers and successive government administrations, the University’s Board of Trustees approved the proposal in 2000. The AKU-EB was granted recognition by the Government of Pakistan through an Ordinance passed in November 2002. Partial funding for the establishment of the AKU-EB came from USAID, sparking opposition by conservative religious parties in Pakistan.
Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations
In 2002, the University established the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC) in the United Kingdom. The Institute aims to strengthen research and teaching about the heritages of Muslim societies as they have evolved over time, and to examine the challenges these societies face in today’s globalised world. It also seeks to create opportunities for interaction among academics, traditionally trained scholars and other professionals in an effort to promote dialogue and build bridges.
The Institute is situated at 210 Euston Road, London, NW1 2DA, United Kingdom.
MA in Muslim Cultures
The two-year MA in Muslim Cultures aims to introduce a process of learning about Muslim societies and cultures that is based on an inter-disciplinary approach in the social sciences and the humanities. The Programme offers the opportunity to reconsider the understanding of Muslim cultures, through methods of enquiry and analysis (including fieldwork), and by increasing awareness of the complex social and cultural processes faced by Muslim societies in the contemporary world.
The courses aim to generate diverse perspectives that reflect the mosaic of Muslim cultures across the world, their history, and the way they have been shaped through ongoing dialogue with other world cultures. It seeks to enable critical reflection about the emergence of Islam, the rich diversity of historical sources and traditions, and the way in which the past continues to shape the present.
Building upon this foundation, the MA course explores a wide range of topics relating to Muslim societies, such as governance, law, ethics, gender, poverty, migration, development, modernity, globalisation and artistic expression. Students will learn to engage with these topics from a number of intellectual and theoretical perspectives, and will be encouraged to develop their own capacity for critical thinking while having the opportunity to respectfully engage with the view of others.
Situated in the vibrant centre of London, the AKU-ISMC offers a unique and stimulating environment with a diverse student body. Students are taught by an international faculty composed of prominent scholars committed to supporting the development of their academic potential. The MA Programme aims to equip students with new knowledge and the necessary intellectual, analytical and leadership skills to be able to enable them to make a positive contribution to society.
The Institute has decided to reshape the curriculum of its MA in Muslim Cultures. This has led to the deferral of admission to the programme until Fall 2010.
Called a ‘Gateway to Big Ideas’ short courses at ISMC are springboard for learning about Muslim cultures. Academically sound and pedagogically stimulating, these courses are an excellent way to learn about the past and present of a major world civilisation. The primary rationale that guides and informs the short courses is the recognition that despite being rooted in a message accepted as sacred or divine by Muslims generally, the actual unfolding of the history of Muslims was and remains a cultural phenomenon. As Muslim cultures are integral parts of human history they must be studied as such, using the tools of the social sciences and humanities.
The study of Muslim cultures and civilisations is increasing around the world. AKU-ISMC, through its Professional Programmes Unit, is rapidly expanding its range of short courses covering a large number of topics. Weekend, evening and intensive summer courses are available. In the past our courses have been attended by professionals (i.e. lawyers, teachers, IT specialists, development practitioners etc.), diplomats, full-time students and others with a keen interest to enhance their understanding in this subject area.
The Unit also develops and provides customised courses, for professionals such as members of the diplomatic corps, lawyers and educators.
Muslim Civilisations Abstracts Project
The Muslim Civilisations Abstracts (MCA) is an innovative project that records and abstracts a large body of published work relating to various aspects of Muslim civilisations.
The abstracts are written in any number of the following eight languages (Arabic, English, French, Indonesian/Malay, Persian, Russian, Turkish and Urdu). These languages are selected on the basis of their association with the study of Muslim cultures. Many are under-represented in existing bibliographies and surveys of academic literature, and remain unfamiliar to those outside of their immediate contexts. The purpose of the MCA thus is to widen both knowledge of and access to literature produced in the Muslim world as well as countries with substantial Muslim communities.
To help achieve this, it seeks to make available online, abstracts and reviews in multiple languages; to initiate full-length translation projects of certain key works of scholarship; and to create an online resource and reference tool for scholars, students and the public at large.
The Institute’s publications fulfil an important vacuum in terms of representative scholarship and critical thinking about Muslim societies and are one of the Institute’s most effective vehicles for disseminating perspectives about Muslim societies that differ from those prevailing in larger academic and mainstream media discussions. On 15 October 2009, the Institute launch of its new academic publications programme at the British Library, London. AKU-ISMC academic publications consist of 3 series published in partnership with Edinburgh University press:
1. Muslims Civilisations Abstracts This series heralds an original reference catalogue of annotated bibliographies and supplementary abstracts of scholarship published during the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries concerning the Muslim world.
2. Exploring Muslim Contexts This series brings together the scholarship of leading specialists from various fields into a series of contemporary debates that seek to address salient and urgent issues faced by contemporary Muslim societies from a wide range of theoretical and practical perspectives.
3. In Translation: Modern Muslim Thinkers This series aims to identify and translate pioneering works which have engendered important debates within their own indigenous settings, thereby introducing them into the domain of the larger discussion about Muslim civilisations taking place on the world stage.
Impact of AKU on Society
Since its inception, AKU has had a significant impact on the Pakistani society.
- AKU has brought international-quality medical education and health-sciences education to Pakistan.
- AKU’s role in nursing education in Pakistan is unparalleled removing the stigma associated with a nursing profession and instead making it a prestigious and competitive career.The nursing program has helped give women a noble profession, a dignified profession, and given them social standing in a community where women are not generally held in high standing.
- AKU holds regular clinics and teaching sessions at the katchi abadis or slums of Karachi
- AKU played a major role in the relief efforts after the 2005 Pakistan earthquake 
AKU flood relief cordination centre established medical camps in flood affected areas devastated by fatal flood ever came in Pakistan in fourth quarter of 2010. Besides medcial facilities the university also collected data of flood affectees to provide monthly food items by cordinating with donators.
Role of religion in the University
Although AKU was established by the Imam of the Ismaili Muslims, the University is open to people of all religions and does not discriminate on the basis of religion. The campus has students, faculty and staff of both genders and a variety of religious backgrounds, including Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Parsis, Sikhs, Agnostics, Humanists, Satanists and atheists. The fact that the number of Ismailis among the student and faculty body is low, is a testament to the merit-based admissions and hiring process at the university. AKU is among the few institutions in Pakistan where open and contentious academic debate on religion is possible.
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