The Patron-in-Chief of the University of Lahore (UoL), Mr. M.A. Raoof, is thankful to Allah for having enabled him realize his 50 year conceived dream of establishing a model university that others must learn from. While speaking to the Spectacle Newsletter Managing Editor, Mr Abdulhamid Mpoza in an exclusive interview conducted at his office on January 25, 2018, he said UoL is the most successful private sector university running on its feet without any financial assistance from government or any loaning agency.
“Every brick and mortar of UoL is ours. No any single penny is borrowed from government or any bank loan. We are a self-sustaining institution that other universities must copy from,” he said.
He observes that today, self-reliant private sector universities like UoL, are the decisive solution to the unresolved challenges of higher education globally. “Most of the challenges facing the higher education sector globally stem from unreliable sources of funding. Once you resolve that, you can then be stable to move forward,” he noted.
Adding on why UoL is a success story for emulation, Mr Raoof said the university has a conducive learning environment with modern facilities, and teaching staff that have increasingly boosted the student enrolment. “We have grown in size, with campuses almost across the country. Thirteen faculties, 40 academic departments, and over 200 study programmes that satisfy all education regulatory bodies at provincial and federal levels,” he said.
Having worked in the higher education sector for 30 years as founder of prominent universities in Pakistan, and deputy director of a regulatory body for private and public universities, Mr Raoof had accumulated a wealth of experience that enabled him to establish the flourishing UoL.
“I worked with the first Vice Chancellor of the first University of Engineering and Technology from 1962 to 1968. I had an opportunity to draft the charter of this university. In 1968, I went to the University of Islamabad now known as Quaid-i-Azam University—the most prestigious graduate university in the country. I drafted its charter, participated in land allocation, and supervised the construction from scratch,” he recalled.
“Due to some political interference, I left the Quaid-i-Azim University and became the deputy Director General of the University Grants Commission (the equivalent of the current HEC). We were mandated to supervise all universities, private and public. At this stage, I noticed the gaps in the higher education sector that propelled me to start a university of my own,” he added.
Profoundly loaded with higher education experience, gaps observed in the sector, coupled with own trained manpower, in 1998, UoL had to start. “By the way, prior to all this, I had the dream of starting the university the day I took my first son and daughter to school. By the time I launched the university, I had trained all my children in varied specialties like management sciences, finance, computer science, electrical engineering etc. and they were able to move the project to date,” he said.
“I am now doing minimum supervision because I am confident that the team is there to take the university to greater heights,” he added.