President Dr Arif Alvi Tuesday urged the universities to increase the proportion of online education as it was cost-effective and would also help the students get easy access to higher education. The president, during a briefing on Riphah International University (RIU), Islamabad, at Aiwan-e-Sadr, said that the education institutes needed to rethink their vision and focus on getting an intellectual edge to meet the challenges of the fast-changing world. The meeting was attended by Vice-Chancellor RIU, Professor Dr Anis Ahmad, Executive Director RIU, Asad Ullah Khan, Registrar RIU, Brigadier (R) Eng. Salim Ahmed Khan, and senior officials from the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training and Higher Education Commission (HEC). Vice-Chancellor RIU briefed the president about the achievements and role of his university in the promotion of education in the country. Highlighting the importance of information technology, the president said that the universities needed to focus on the requirements of the 4th Industrial Revolution and Research and Development activities enabling Pakistan to join the ranks of technologically advanced countries. He added that besides academic achievements, universities should also focus on ethical studies and the character-building of students. The president also appreciated HEC’s policy of providing a waiver to differently-abled students in tuition fees, hostel fees, and utility fees. He expressed the hope that it would encourage them to get higher education. He also underscored the need to develop academia-industry linkages and collaborations with international universities that would help in the promotion of quality education. The president appreciated the performance of the university which had played a significant role in the promotion of education. Meanwhile, President Dr Arif Alvi Tuesday said that steps were being taken to provide equal opportunities to minorities and protect their rights as enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan. He said that minorities were playing an active role in the development of the country and the government was making serious efforts to ensure their inclusion in the political and economic system of the country. The president expressed these views while talking to a delegation of National Minorities Commission (NCM), led by Chairman NCM Chela Ram Kewlani that called on him at Aiwan-e-Sadr. Chairman, Ruet-e-Hilal Committee Moulana Syed Abdul Khabir Azad, Jaipal Chhabria, Mufti Gulzar Naeemi, Vishno Raja, Dr Sara Safdar and other members of the NCM attended the meeting, a press release said. Talking to the delegation, the president said the government was taking measures for the protection and maintenance of all worship places of minorities, including the churches, shrines, temples and gurdwaras. He highlighted that in addition to general merit, government had allocated 5% job quota for minorities and was providing scholarships and financial assistance to students belonging to minority groups. Youth and women from minority groups could avail business loans on easy terms and conditions under the Prime Minister’s Kamyab Jawan Programme, he further added. While regretting the fact that minority quota in the federal government jobs remained unutilized, the president urged the minority leaders to encourage the youth in their communities to get education and avail the employment opportunities being provided by the government. The delegation apprised the president of their issues and he assured them of taking all possible steps to address their problems. The delegation also lauded the efforts of the president for taking a keen interest in the welfare of minorities and promoting inter-faith harmony. The president commended the NCM’s efforts in safeguarding the rights of minorities and expressed the hope that it would continue to play its role in promoting religious harmony and peace in the country.