PESHAWAR, Aug 10: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has decided to establish a university in Ambar village of Swabi district, according to officials.

The new university would be established by upgrading the campus of Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan, located in Ambar village, to the status of a university, the officials said. With the establishment of the Swabi University, the number of public sector universities will reach 18 in the province.

Since coming into power, the ANP-led provincial government has so far established five universities in different districts while two new universities were being set up in Karak and Swabi, they said. The universities established by the incumbent government are: Islamia College University Peshawar, Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan, Bacha Khan University Charsadda, Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University Sharingal and University of Haripur.

The Karak University, approved a few months ago, was in its initial stage of establishment. Kohat University vice-chancellor Dr Nasir Jamal has been given the additional charge as project director of Karak University.

Summary for the establishment of Swabi University has been moved to Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti for approval, the officials said, adding it would be approved soon. They said that Mr Hoti had gone abroad otherwise it would have been approved by now.

The development cost for initial five years of establishment of Karak and Swabi universities would be meted out from royalties of both the districts. The share of Karak in petroleum products royalty would be used for establishment of the university. Similarly, the royalty of Swabi district in electricity generation and tobacco cess would be spent on upgradation of the campus of AWKUM to the status of a university in Ambar village.

They said that all members of the provincial assembly from Swabi district had held a meeting with the chief minister, who agreed to spend the electricity royalty and tobacco cess for construction of the university.

The annual estimated cost of development of Swabi University was Rs350 million, they said, adding that Rs25 million would be used from electricity royalty and tobacco cess, while rest of the amount would be arranged by the provincial government. Regarding recurrent budget, they said that it would be the responsibility of Higher Education Commission.

The officials said that the existing building of AWKUM campus was not sufficient for the university, therefore land adjacent to it would be bought for new constructions. They said that in this way the government would encourage female education, especially in the far-off districts, as the parents were reluctant to allow their daughters to go to universities outside their native districts for different reasons.

One of the major problems in this regard is lack of accommodation for girl students, they said, adding that many girl students of other districts, who had been studying in different universities of Peshawar, were residing in private hostels due to limited space in the universities’ hostels.

An official of higher education department told Dawn that one of his close relatives in Swabi couldn’t continue higher education despite taking admission in University of Peshawar when the university administration failed to accommodate her in the university’s hostel. He said that he tried to convince the girl’s father about safety of hostels in the nearby areas of the university campus, but he refused.

The official said that more and more girls would start receiving higher education when they would have a university in their own town, as they would be able to continue education while living in their own homes.