Aga Khan University (AKU) provides post-graduate training of health service professionals, teachers and managers of schools, and the development of research scholars. It was granted its charter in 1983 as Pakistan's first private, autonomous university.
The “brain drain” of medical professionals from developing to developed countries hampers the delivery of quality health programmes in many developing countries, but its cause is not simply the attraction of better paying jobs abroad. The quality of the equipment and the facilities, the availability of advanced training, and opportunities for research and career advancement also play a role in retention. More
Aga Khan University (AKU) provides higher education and develops research pertinent to Pakistan and the developing world at internationally accepted academic standards. Its overall mandate is to promote the welfare of the people of Pakistan and other developing countries.The University is chartered by the Government of Pakistan as an international university with the authority to operate programmes, branches and campuses anywhere in the world. An international Board of Trustees governs AKU which currently has ten teaching sites in seven countries.
AKU's Faculty of Health Sciences was planned with the support of Harvard, McGill and McMaster Universities. It presently includes a Medical College and a School of Nursing, which are located together with their principal teaching site, Aga Khan University Hospital, on an 84-acre campus in Karachi. The University's Institute for Educational Development is located on its own purpose-built campus in Karachi. In November 2002, Government of Pakistan’s approval was obtained through an Ordinance to establish Aga Khan University Examination Board to offer affordable, relevant and high quality secondary and higher secondary school examinations in Urdu and English to public as well as private schools. The Human Development Programme at AKU is dedicated to enhancing human development through a focus on Early Childhood Development.
AKU is rapidly becoming an international university in response to the mandate of its Charter, establishing teaching programmes in Pakistan as well as abroad. At the request of regional governments in East Africa, and with the assistance of institutions within the Aga Khan Development Network, AKU has initiated nursing and teacher education programmes Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda and is in the advanced stages of final accreditation by authorities in these countries.
In 2002, the University established its Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC) in the United Kingdom. The Institute’s goal is to strengthen research and teaching on the heritage of Muslim societies in all its historic diversity.
In Syria and Afghanistan, at the invitation of the two governments, AKU is engaged in providing innovative programmes for capacity development and technical assistance to aid the development of teachers and nurses.
Further development of AKU emphasises research and graduate studies, enhancement of the role of women at the University and in society, and appropriate application of information technology. In addition to developments underway at the School of Nursing, University Hospital and the Institute for Educational Development, 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. Work on the new Faculty of Arts and Sciences, meanwhile, is actively underway. This Faculty will provide four years of relevant, general education of high quality at the undergraduate level. In due course the Faculty also proposes to offer postgraduate and professional training, with the objective of developing leaders for the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Academic and physical planning is in the advanced stage and the Faculty is expected to enrol its first batch of students in 2008.