ISLAMABAD - Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) topped overall ranking of national universities while Punjab University and National University of Science and Technology (NUST) took second and third spots respectively in the latest ranking of universities released by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) yesterday.

Agha Khan is the best medical university of Pakistan while Iqra University Karachi is a top business varsity and NUST is ranked first for engineering, says HEC 2015 Ranking.

In the 5th ranking of Pakistani higher learning institutions, 129 public and private universities were ranked for the year 2015, adopting 66 parameters for scoring.

About 37 varsities established after June 2010 were not included in the ranking. Further, Distance Learning Institutions including Allama Iqbal Open University and Virtual University and army academies were excluded from the ranking for not complying with the set parameters.

The universities have been ranked into overall top 10 varsities, general category, engineering and technology, business education, agriculture and veterinary, medical and arts and design.

The major criteria for evaluation of universities were quality assurance, teaching quality, research, finance & facilities and social integration and community development. The HEC also verified and counter-checked the data collected during 2013-14 from all the universities before compiling the final ranking.

QAU Islamabad retained its top spot for the fourth consecutive year in the overall ranking list. The QAU is followed by University of the Punjab Lahore, NUST, University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Aga Khan University, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS), University of Karachi, University of Health Sciences Lahore, and University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore.

Under the agriculture and veterinary sciences category, University of Agriculture Faisalabad has topped the list followed by University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences Lahore, Sindh Agriculture University Tandojam, and Lasbela University of Agriculture, Water and Marine Sciences.

Iqra University Karachi, that was categorised as a general university in the last ranking has topped the business category in this ranking due to its over 50 percent enrollment in business management and production of PhDs in the subject. The university is followed by Lahore School of Economics and Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi, that had topped the last ranking. Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST) Karachi, also slipped from the third place to 6th this year.

Under the arts category, National College of Arts (NCA) Lahore and Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture Karachi remained at the first and the second spot, respectively.

Aga Khan University is the best medical university of Pakistan, according to the ranking. University of Health Sciences Lahore, Dow University of Health Sciences Karachi, Khyber Medical University Peshawar were on the second, third and fourth position respectively in the list of as many as 13 universities. 

The ranking also covered the engineering category comprising 21 universities with NUST followed by Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS) Islamabad, Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Science and Technology Topi and Institute of Space Technology Islamabad.

As many as 73 higher education institutions have made their place in the general category with QAU Islamabad; PU Lahore; COMSATS Islamabad; KU; PMAS Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi; Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS); Government College University Faisalabad; and University of Peshawar; Bahauddin Zakriya University Multan and Pakistan Institute of Development Economics Islamabad grabbing the top ten slots.

HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmad announcing the rankings said the exercise will boost academic and research culture among Pakistani universities, and build a market pressure on other institutions to improve their academic standards.

Despite constraints, he said, the HEC is considering to move towards ranking by subjects that would be a real test for the universities.

Regarding the participation in the world rankings, he said, the universities ruling the world rankings have reached that level after massive investments on higher education, decades of research work and producing Nobel laureates while the whole Muslim world has only two Nobel laureates.