Aga Khan University

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Aga Khan University
Seal of AKU
Other name
TypePrivate research university
Established1983; 40 years ago (1983)
ChancellorHis Highness the Aga Khan
PresidentSulaiman Shahabuddin
ProvostCarl Amrhein
Students3,196 [alumni: 17,219; employees: 15,275][1]
LanguageMostly English
MascotThe AKU Leopard[2]

Aga Khan University is a non-profit institution and an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network. It was Founded in 1983 as Pakistan's first private university. Starting in 2000, the university expanded to Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, the United Kingdom and Afghanistan.

AKU began life as a health-sciences university. It is among the largest private health-care providers in Pakistan and East Africa. AKU hospitals were the first in those regions accredited by U.S.-based Joint Commission International.

More recently, the university has initiated programmes in teacher education, the study of Muslim civilisations, journalism, early childhood development and public policy. In the near future, the university plans to launch an undergraduate liberal-arts programme to educate future leaders in a wide range of fields and establish additional graduate professional schools.[3]


Founded in 1983 by the Prince Aga Khan IV, AKU is one of the Aga Khan Development Network agencies.[4]

  • 1964: The Chancellor announces plans to construct Aga Khan Hospital and Medical College
  • 1980: The contract for the main complex of Aga Khan University Hospital and Medial College was signed in London
  • 1983: Former President of Pakistan presented the Charter of the university to the Chancellor, making it the first private international university in Pakistan; the first class of the university's School of Nursing graduates
  • 1985: Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi inaugurated
  • 1989: The university's medical college's first batch graduates
  • 1994: The Institute for Educational Development, Karachi inaugurated
  • 2001: The Advanced Nursing Studies Programme launched in Uganda
  • 2002: The Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations established in London
  • 2005: Aga Khan Hospital, Nairobi upgraded to Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi
  • 2006: Inaugurated the Institute for Educational Development in East Africa, and the French Medical Institute for Children, managed by AKU, in Kabul
  • 2007: The Examination Board conducts its first Secondary School Certificate examinations
  • 2012: Founded Graduate School of Media and Communications, Institute for Human Development, and East Africa Institute[5]
  • 2021: Aga Khan University, Kenya granted charter by President Uhuru Kenyatta.[6]
  • 2022: Aga Khan University launches the Faculty of Arts and Sciences on the Stadium Road Campus, Karachi, Pakistan. The Inaugural Dean was appointed in September 2022.


The Aga Khan University accounts for 75% of all biomedical research in Pakistan while the remaining 25 percent is shared by all the other institutions.[7] AKU publishes more research articles in peer-reviewed, indexed internationally recognised journals than any other university in Pakistan.[7] Faculty promotions are dependent on publications in indexed journals while most medical students have published by the time they graduate.[citation needed] Undergraduate medical students have published up to 50 research papers in indexed health journals.[8]

It is the one of the few universities in Pakistan to provide research facilities to students at the undergraduate level. The university maintains a research office to guide and support research conducted at the university. A University Research Council also funds grants after a competitive review process facilitated by a Grants Review Committee. 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.[9]

The university is a site for NIH clinical trials.[10] The seal (logo) of the Aga Khan University is a visual representation of the principles which underlie the founding of the university.[11] 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.


Aga Khan University's Karachi campus.

The Aga Khan University is an international university, operating on campuses in Central and South Asia, the African Great Lakes, Europe and the Middle East. In Pakistan, the university is an 84-acre campus including a hospital with two on-campus male and female hostels with a capacity of 300 each. It has a sports and rehabilitation center which is one of the best in Pakistan, with an Olympic-standard swimming pool, cricket practice nets, tennis courts, indoor gymnasium with wooden flooring, squash courts and gyms. It has cricket and football grounds with jogging tracks.

Existing campuses and international programmes include:

  • Faculty of Health Sciences located on an 84-acre (340,000 m2) campus in the heart of Karachi, Pakistan, built in the 1980s[12]
  • Aga Khan University Health Sciences campus in Nairobi, Kenya
  • Faculty of Arts and Sciences housed in the University Centre on the Stadium Road Campus in Karachi, Pakistan. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences offers undergraduate majors in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Social and Development Studies, Human and Environmental Biology, and Politics Philosophy and Economics.
  • 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
  • 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

Institutes and Graduate Schools[edit]

The university is home to several teaching and research Institutes on its different campuses. The Institutes each drive one of the thematic priorities of AKU and AKDN. In London, the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations is a dedicated interdisciplinary research and graduate school that brings together humanities scholars and social scientists to critically engage with cultural, historical, political, economic, legal and religious aspects of Muslim societies. In Pakistan and East Africa, AKU has two Institutes that focus on education: the Institute for Educational Development Pakistan, and Institute for Educational Development East Africa.

Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations[edit]

The Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC) was founded in 2002 and accepted its first intake of graduate students in 2006. The AKU-ISMC offers an MA in Muslim Cultures. The MA is accredited by the Higher Education Commission (Pakistan) of Pakistan and regulated by the Quality Assurance Agency in the UK.[13] Since 2018, AKU-ISMC has been based in the Aga Khan Centre in the King's Cross area of London. The Aga Khan Centre was designed by the architect Fumihiko Maki.[14]

In 2020, AKU signed a partnership with Columbia University launching a dual masters in September 2020.

Institute for Educational Development - Pakistan and East Africa[edit]

The Institute for Educational Development in Karachi and East Africa[15] (AKU-IED) is a center for developing teachers, educators, education managers, researchers and policy makers. Apart from teacher training, AKU-IED offers MEd (Masters of Education) and PhD. in Education as well. Established in 2003. AKU-EB is a federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary education in Pakistan. AKU-EB examines students at SSC and HSSC level.[16]

Graduate School of Media and Communications[edit]

Launched in 2015, the Aga Khan University Graduate School of Media and Communications (GSMC) is focused on education and tailored training for journalists, communicators and media executives and entrepreneurs in East Africa and beyond.[17] On 7 December 2019, GSMC announced a partnership with Facebook to launch the Video Journalism Fellowship.[18]

Notable alumni, professors and staff[edit]

Professors and staff[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]

Awards and Accolades[edit]

  • Centre for Innovation in Medical Education is South Asia's first to be accredited by US-based Society for Simulation in Healthcare.[24][25]
  • Village Land Use Plan awarded the Society for College and University Planning's Merit Award for Excellence in Planning for a District or Campus Component.[26]
  • Medical College (Pakistan) Urban Health Programme awarded MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship 2009.[27]
  • Zairi International Award in Higher Education 2022, Award of Excellence for Disruptive Education.[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "AKU at a glance". Retrieved 18 July 2021.
  2. ^ "The AKU Mascot". About AKU. The Aga Khan University. Retrieved 12 May 2021.
  3. ^ "About the University". Retrieved 18 July 2021.
  4. ^ "Aga Khan University". Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  5. ^ "History of AKU". Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  6. ^ Maombo, Sharon (11 June 2021). "Uhuru urges universities to invest in CBC research". The Star. Retrieved 16 June 2021.
  7. ^ a b "Need stressed to promote research". Dawn (newspaper). 29 March 2007. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  8. ^ DOAJ. "Directory of Open Access Journals". Retrieved 5 August 2020.
  9. ^ "Annual Research Institute". Retrieved 5 August 2020.
  10. ^ "NIH trials at the Aga Khan University". Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  11. ^ "The Seal – AKU Convocation 2006". Archived from the original on 6 February 2007. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  12. ^ "HARVARD TO AID IN DEVELOPING PAKISTANI TEACHING HOSPITAL". The New York Times. 21 December 1981. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  13. ^ Higher Education Review (Foreign Providers): Aga Khan University (International) in the United Kingdom Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations, October 2020 Retrieved 4 March 2021
  14. ^ Ravenscroft, Tom, Fumihiko Maki unveils Aga Khan Centre in London's King's Cross, Dezeen, 29 June 2018. Retrieved 4 March 2021
  15. ^ "Institutes for Educational Development | The Aga Khan University". Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  16. ^ "AKU-EB". Retrieved 5 August 2020.
  17. ^ "About Us". Aga Khan University | Graduate School of Media and Communications. Retrieved 9 December 2019.
  18. ^ Wanzala, James. "Varsity, Facebook partner in training". The Standard. Retrieved 9 December 2019.
  19. ^ Profile of Aga Khan University – Karachi, Retrieved 11 August 2017
  20. ^ CSPH Names Adil Haider, MD, MPH as New Director Archived 27 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 3 July 2016.
  21. ^ "Liberty Dialysis Physicians Fahim Rahim and Naeem Rahim to Receive Ellis Island National Medals of Honor for Their Contribution to Achievements in Dialysis and Kidney Care". Business Wire. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  22. ^ "Dr. Naeem Rahim, MD". Health Grades. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  23. ^ "Rahim Farhim and JRM Foundation reach out". Idaho State Journal. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  24. ^ "Pakistani healthcare simulation centre becomes South Asia's first to receive prestigious accreditation". Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  25. ^ "AKU recoginsed for simulation-based education". The Express Tribune. 22 January 2020. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  26. ^ "Awards & Recognition". HR&A. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  27. ^ "MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship to Be Presented at Award Ceremony in Talloires, France". Campus Compact. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  28. ^ News Desk (17 May 2022). "AKU wins award of excellence for disruptive education". Pakistan Observer. Retrieved 18 May 2022.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 24°53′34″N 67°04′29″E / 24.8928°N 67.0747°E / 24.8928; 67.0747