Virtual University The emphasis on higher education is a global phenomenon. The inter-dependability between higher education and national development is emphasised by many international and national studies and research reports. Paulo Friere, the famous Brazilian educator and thinker argues that for developing countries this inter-relationship implies a stronger need to improve education for the purposes of multi-dimensional national development (1972).
Education is construed as a significant factor in promoting an ambitious agenda of social and political change. The World Bank and UNESCO Task Force on Higher Education and Society that brought together experts from 13 countries to explore the future of higher education in the developing world, claimed that ‘The quality of knowledge generated within Higher Education institutions, and its accessibility to the wider economy, is becoming increasingly critical to national competitiveness’ (UNESCO, 2000, p.9). Even in developed countries such as USA many national reports emphasise that deteriorating education places ‘A Nation at Risk’. Brown and Lauder claim that the increasing importance attached to education in the global economy is not misplaced in the sense that nations will increasingly have to define the wealth of nations in terms of the quality of human resources among the population, and to develop those resources through education
(1996, p.23). According to a UK Department for Business Innovation and Skills report ‘A strong university system is essential to a country's economic success and the vibrancy and depth of its intellectual and cultural life’ (BIS, 2009, p.18).
In the case of Pakistan, the policy documents and political statements of almost every leader, from Quaid-a-Azam up to the present day rulers stress the association and interdependability between education and national development. The World Bank reports (2000) further emphasise this correlation. This inter-relationship implies an intrinsic need to improve the quality of education for the purposes of multidimensional national development. The Boston Report emphasises that ‘In the emerging ‘knowledge economy’,
nations that fail at creating a decent learning environment will lag behind, and may end up becoming virtual colonies of those that do succeed in this regard’ (2002, p.5). Higher education is increasingly being seen as a vehicle for developing human resources, thus defining the policy thrusts aiming towards its expansion. However, a significant issue underpinning these developments concerns the quality of the provision and the challenge of accommodating expansion with quality. Expansion in itself cannot be the answer to the
needs if the quality is not assured. The Lectures of Virtual University available at www.vulectures.com