Australia a major study destination for Pak post-9/11
Islamabad, May 20: Australia has emerged as the first choice for Pakistanis wanting to go overseas for education due to soft visa regulations, lower tuition and lodging expenditure, international recognition of degrees and friendly environment, according to a leading educational consultant of the country, said Saad Mehmood, resident director of Australian Education Office (AEO), Pakistan.
In an interview with this scribe, Saad was of the view that the West, especially the US, tightened visa policy after the 9/11 attacks, thus making it quite difficult for many in the world, including Pakistanis, to be there either for tourism or education. In the circumstances post 9/11, Pakistanis looked for new study destinations and Australia emerged as the most attractive. Currently, around 3,000 Pakistanis go to Australia every year for studies.
Saad said that currently, more than 5,000 Pakistani students were in Australia and interestingly, 20 per cent of them were women. He gave many reasons other than easy visa rules why Australian institutions are fast becoming the first choice of Pakistani students.
"First, the cost of education in Australia for foreigners is lower compared with western countries. A recent Australian government study found that in terms of total costs, including tuition fees and living expenditure, the US and the UK are consistently more expensive than Australia. Second, compared with the US and other western countries, Australia is a close study destination for students from Pakistan and thus, making it cheaper and easier to be there and return during vacations. Also if parents want to visit children or be at their graduation, Australia is an affordable option," he said.
The AEO Pakistan resident director said that Australian institutions were sensitive to religious and cultural needs of visitors, especially students, and offered a wide range of support and monitoring services to help them.
He said that Australia was a safer country compared to almost all other countries of the world.
"Crime and political unrest are almost nonexistent in Australia, so international students pursue education plans without trouble. Let me tell you Australia is one of the world's most harmonious multicultural societies and its citizens are open, friendly people. Visitors always get a warm welcome there," he said.
Saad said that Australia offered internationally recognised education and training system, which provided world class opportunities to international students and that major employers and professional organisations around the world, including Pakistan, recognised Australian qualifications.
He said that Australia was continually refining and redefining its education and training system while retaining the best of its traditional values, such as the care of students and excellence in scholarship.
The educational consultant said that Australian universities, which are ranked the best in the world, offered undergraduate and postgraduate courses covering a broad range of disciplines from humanities and computing to engineering, health sciences and law.
"Australia's public and private vocational education and training institutions deliver training ranging from accounting and applied science to business studies, marketing, hospitality and tourism which is responsive to international students' needs," he said.
Saad said that Australian educational institutions used leading-edge technologies and learning programmes and thus, promoting flexible and innovative approaches to teaching and research.
He said that AEO Pakistan operated as the official liaison office for over 40 leading Australian universities and educational institutions and facilitated enrolment of international students there.
He said among those educational institutions were University of South Australia, University of Western Sydney, University of New South Wales, University of Canberra, University of Melbourne, Canberra Institute of Technology, Australian National University, ACT department of Education and Community Services, Bond University, University of Wollongong, Melbourne Institute of Technology, Holmesglen Institute of Technology, Curtin University of Technology, University of Western Australia, Deakin University, University of Adelaide, Flinders University, Box Hill Institute of TAFE, Tropical North Queensland TAFE, Academy of Interactive Technology and Le Cordon Bleu.
"We began operations in Pakistan in April 1997 from Karachi, where the Australian deputy prime minister was the chief guest. Our Islamabad office was opened in 1999 and that of Lahore in 2004. Over the past decade or so, we've firmly established ourselves as a 'study in Australia' specialist.
"We are able to provide comprehensive and professional counselling and assistance to genuine students intending to study in Australia. We are now also able to offer pathway study options in the UK, the US and Canada," he said.
The AEO Pakistan resident director said that his organisation was to organise an international educational exhibition in Islamabad next month, where representatives of leading Australian universities, colleges and institutes would be in attendance to inform visitors about undergraduate, postgraduate, PhD and other educational programmes and scholarships offered on them, and counsel them on personal, educational matters.
"I'm sure that the exhibition will be a great help to those wanting to study abroad," he said.
Pakistani universities showcase fuel-efficient vehicles
Rawalpindi: Top universities from Pakistan unveiled their hand-built fuel-efficient vehicles for the Shell Eco-marathon Asia at a launch ceremony held at NUST in Rawalpindi. This event has put Pakistani teams on track for the competition at the Sepang F-1 track in Kuala Lumpur in July 2013. There, they will compete with over 130 teams from 16 countries to see whose vehicle can go the farthest on one litre of fuel.
Teams from NUST, UET-Peshawar, UET-Jamshoro, NED, Air University, GIK, PNEC and FAST are registered to compete in the event at Malaysia. Some of these teams were present at the NUST launch event to showcase a range of new and improved vehicles, running on a variety of fuels.
On the occasion, Omar Sheikh, Managing Director, Shell Pakistan Limited, said, "Pakistan and the world face an energy challenge, and Shell is well positioned to help people meet their energy needs through efficient and performance-driven products. Competitions like the Shell Eco-marathon are opportunities for students to be a part of the dialogue and the solution to our energy challenges. A panel of judges from academic, media, industry and government sectors inspected the vehicles at the launch event. Awards were given for Safety to UET-Peshawar for their Prototype vehicle; for the best mileage to NUST for their Urban Concept vehicle; GIK's prototype vehicle won an award for reducing their ecological footprint the most, while the innovation prize was awarded to UET-Peshawar's Urban Concept vehicle. Two novelty awards were given to AIR University and HITEC for their out-of-the-box designs.
Major General Obaid Bin Zakria, Commandant NUST College of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering added, "Today's event is a chance for Pakistani teams to test their vehicles and ensure they are well-prepared for tough competition at the Shell Eco-marathon in Malaysia this year. The students have already displayed a great deal of drive and creativity in transforming innovative ideas into reality, and we hope they continue to display the same enthusiasm as they represent Pakistan and their universities."
Pakistan was the first country from the subcontinent to represent teams at the Shell Eco-marathon in Berlin 2009, followed by 20 teams in the 2010 Kuala Lumpur competition, the highest number in Asia. In 2012, for the first time, two Pakistani teams were top performers; a team from NED came in fourth position in the Ethanol Prototype category, while a team from NUST came in eighth in the Urban Concept gasoline category. In 2013, 13 teams from Pakistan will participate in the Kuala Lumpur event.**
Electricity outages hit HSSC students hard
Rawalpindi: Unscheduled electricity loadshedding is creating lots of problems for the students of Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSSC) as they are unable to focus on their ongoing final examinations, which began on Saturday.
Fans in almost all examination centres remained powered off due to power outages, as helpless students gave papers in suffocating conditions amid hot weather.
The students have urged the concerned authorities to at least announce a schedule for loadshedding and try not to disconnect electricity during examination timings so that they could concentrate on attempting their papers.
The students said that it has become very difficult for them to concentrate on their papers because of unscheduled power outages. "Due to electricity loadshedding, it also becomes very hard for us to solve papers in the examination hall as well," they added.
They requested the education department to use alternative sources during electricity loadshedding during paper timings in the examination halls.
Arsalan Ahmed, a student said, "In our locality we are facing worst form of loadshedding and there is no schedule, which is badly affecting my studies, as it becomes very difficult for me to concentrate on preparing for exams."
Junaid Ali, another student, said that if it is not possible for education department to use alternative resources to provide electricity in examination halls during loadshedding then they should at least request the concerned authorities not to cut power supply during paper timings.
Majority of markets and roads wore a deserted look due to hot weather as mercury touched 41 Degree Celsius on Saturday. The citizens expressed grave concerns about the persistent and unscheduled power outages, which are increasing, as the weather is getting hotter and hotter with each passing day.
Pakistan Meteorological Department (Director) Dr. Muhammad Hanif said that temperature would further rise in Punjab, Sindh including twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad in coming days.
On the other hand the residents of Afshan Colony, Dhoke Banaras, Morgah, Kotha Kalan and Dhoke Chaudirian spent sleepless night on Friday as electricity disappeared around 9:00 p.m. and came back till early morning. Similarly, majority of feeders in city and cantonment areas tripped due to overload and people faced 12 to 14 hours loadshedding. The officials in Iesco kept their telephones off the hook to avoid receiving calls while the electricity continued to be cut off after every ten or fifteen minutes.
The Ministry of Water and Power said that power shortfall has climbed to over 5,500 MW, causing an increase in timings of loadshedding. The present supply of electricity stood at 9,465 MW while demand has surged to 15,000 MW, resulting worst kind of loadshedding, the Ministry of Water and Power sources said. The news
IT genius who envisions mess-free traffic
A Pakistani student has developed a multi-purpose computer software keeping in view the growing traffic problems, especially being faced in big cities, which if efficiently used could help resolve this major urban issue. The software was also appreciated at an international IT event.
Muhammad Abdullah Abid, a Class-IX student at PakTurk School, Lahore, has developed the software "Rush Hour Controller" that can change traffic signals according to the number of vehicles on the road after collecting data through a normal webcam.
Recognising his talent, the school administration sent Abdullah to Ankara, Turky, to participate in a global information and communications technology competition where 176 projects from 48 countries, including US, Thailand, India, Afghanistan, Turkey, Nigeria, Albania and Brazil were presented.
The school has announced Abdullah stood second in the category of software development and besides the runner-up prize he was awarded $300 by the contest organisers.
The software uses a webcam (or any security cam) to take pictures of roads around a traffic signal continuously. It calculates the number of cars on all four roads at a crossing and gives more green light time to the track that is more crowded. If a road is empty, the programme gives less time to green light and more to the red one. It also caters to pedestrians' needs and sends signal to drivers, if a road is blocked.
The software developer says the programme can also be effectively used in parking areas. If a parking area is empty it sends SMS to the registered drivers while it has an FM radio option too to send necessary audio messages to drivers. The programme also sends SMS and radio messages to police, if it detects something suspicious or unusual.
Commenting on the student's success, Education PakTurk director Kamil Ture said technology was a symbol of development that could help individuals and societies meet their needs more easily. He said technologically advanced societies had higher levels of living and culture. Like many innovations, he said, technological innovations should also be first conveyed to educational institutions. "We should encourage Pakistani students to become technology savvy so that they could build the future according to their dreams," Mr Ture said.
It may be mentioned the Intel National Science Fair's 10 finalists have represented Pakistan at the six-day Intel International Science & Engineering Fair 2013 that began from May 12 in Phoenix, Arizona, US. However, they could not grab any position in the event. Dawn