UNDP-Higher Education Commission Fellowships helping students realize their dreams

Zia Ud Din, a graduate student in Economics and Finance, was one of the first winners of the UNDP-HEC Federalism Fellowship.

“I belong to a province where development indicators have not shown any substantive progress, so I intend to go back and work on social development as I know the priorities of the area”. Born in the small town of Pishin, Zia Ud Din is the eldest of six brothers and four sisters, but he considers himself privileged because his father, despite financial constraints, encouraged him and his siblings to complete their education. “My father helped all of us brothers as well as our sisters to get through school, demonstrating persistence”, he noted.


Access to education in Pakistan is limited even today, especially in small towns. When Zia Ud Din was 4-years-old his family moved from Pishin to Quetta, where his father sought a better future for his children. In Quetta, Zia’s father set up a small real estate business, and Zia attended Government Sandeman High School.


With a limited income, his father still supported his children’s education. Zia a good student, but he also helped his father with his business.


From an early age Zia knew he wanted to bring positive social change to his home province. To do so, he decided to pursue an education in economics and political science.


After graduating from the University of Balochistan with excellent grades, Zia pursued a Master’s degree at the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics. Zia’s professors encouraged him to apply for an M.Phil. degree, which he is currently pursuing.


Coming from the poorest and least developed province, where more than half of households live below the poverty line, Zia knew he would have to work hard to achieve his goals. Zia worked part-time to make ends meet while he pursued his M.Phil.


Zia learned about the UNDP-Higher Education Commission (HEC) fellowship award through the HEC website and immediately decided to apply to support his continuing studies. His winning thesis topic was “Fiscal Decentralization and Economic Development Pre- and Post-7th National Finance Commission Analysis.


Reacting to the news that he had won the Fellowship, Zia stated “I am extremely happy to receive the fellowship award as now I can concentrate on my thesis without worrying about my tuition fees”.


Zia plans to go back to Balochistan when he completes his degree and he requested that such fellowship awards be increased since they provide people coming from underprivileged backgrounds an opportunity to accomplish their objectives. Zia stated “I hope that other institutions also replicate such fellowship programs so that more students are supported to realize their dreams”.

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