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The Aga Khan University (AKU)

The AKU Seal
The Aga Khan University (AKU) is a coeducational research university spread over three continents. It was granted its charter in 1983 as Pakistan's first private, autonomous university.[1] AKU was founded by His Highness the Aga Khan, and is part of the Aga Khan Development Network. AKU is an international university with 11 teaching sites spread over eight countries - Afghanistan, Kenya, Pakistan, Tanzania, Uganda, Syria, Egypt and the United Kingdom.
Its principal campus is located in the metropolitan city of Karachi, Pakistan with another major teaching hospital in Kenya. A 450-million dollar campus is planned for Arusha, in north-eastern Tanzania to be built in the next 15 years.[2]
According to the Higher Education Commission (HEC) ranking of Universities in Pakistan, The Aga Khan University is ranked first in Health Sciences, with a cumulative rank score higher than any other university in Pakistan.[3] The HEC also ranked the University number one overall in Pakistan based on the global impact of its research

Scientific research and clinical trials

The Aga Khan University accounts for 70% of all biomedical research in Pakistan while the remaining 30 per cent is shared by all the other institutions.[5] AKU publishes more research articles in peer-reviewed, indexed internationally recognised journals than any other university in Pakistan.[5] Faculty promotions are dependent on publications in indexed journals while most medical students have published by the time they graduate.
The university maintains a Research Office to guide and support research conducted at the University.[6] A University Research Council also funds grants after a competitive review process facilitated by a Grants Review Committee.[7] Particular emphasis is also placed on community related health sciences research. AKU organizes international and national research workshops and seminars. A Health Sciences Research Assembly is held annually in which faculty and students present their research.[8]
The university is the site for NIH clinical trials.[9]

Campuses and facilities

The Aga Khan University is an international university, operating on campuses in Central and South Asia, East Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
Existing campuses and international programmes include:
  • Faculty of Health Sciences located on a 84-acre (340,000 m2) campus in the heart of Karachi, Pakistan, built in the 1980s[10]
  • Aga Khan University Health Sciences campus in Nairobi, Kenya[11]
  • A USD 500 million campus for the university's Faculty of Arts and Sciences is under development in Karachi Pakistan. An area of 1,100 acres (4.5 km2) has been acquired just outside Karachi, and Payette Associates are the project architects.
  • Institute for Educational Development in the Karimabad area of Karachi, Pakistan and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
  • Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations in London, United Kingdom;
  • A USD 450 million campus planned for Arusha, in north-eastern Tanzania to be built in the next 15 years.[2]
  • Advanced Nursing Studies (ANS) Programmes at campuses in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda;
  • Programmes for capacity development for teachers and nurses in Afghanistan, Egypt and Syria;

Impact of AKU on society

Role of religion in the University

Although AKU was established by the Imam of the Ismaili Muslims, the university is open to people of all religions and does not discriminate on the basis of religion. The campus has students, faculty and staff of both genders and a variety of religious backgrounds, including Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Parsis, Sikhs, agnostics, Humanists, and atheists. The fact that the number of Ismailis among the student and faculty body is low, is a testament to the merit-based admissions and hiring process at the university.


The seal (logo) of the Aga Khan University is a visual representation of the principles which underlie the founding of the university.[13] The circular form of the seal has its roots in the rosettes of early Islamic periods. It also symbolizes the world and reflects the internationality of the Aga Khan University. At the centre of the Seal is a star or sun representing light – a universal symbol of the enlightenment that education provides. The light is also symbolic of Nur (Divine light). The star incorporates 49 points to commemorate the university's founding by Prince Karim Aga Khan, the Forty-Ninth Imam of the Ismaili Muslims.
The outer ring circumscribes a Quranic Ayat (3:103) rendered in classic thuluth script and reads as follows:.[4]
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