World class universities’ free courses for Pakistani students

05:16 PM | 16 Aug, 2020
World class universities’ free courses for Pakistani students

 Sidra Batool wanted to have a career in videography and photography but she had no money to get the proper training to polish her skills and compete with experienced photographers. She contacted the National College of Arts and some other private institutions to enroll in short related courses but could not make to them because of odd timing and higher charges. Sidra, being a schoolteacher, hardly found time and energy to reach the NCA at 2pm to attend the class when her school would be over at 2pm. She gave up the idea of becoming a videographer and photographer. 

This was back in 2008. 

In 2018 she learned advanced techniques of videography and photography from famous videographers of the world and also has earned a certificate. 

Sidra did so without spending even a single penny, and the completed courses at her own pace and convenience. 

“If you have a computer and an Internet connection and can read and write English, you can have access to free online courses from world’s renowned universities,” says Sidra, who is now a multimedia director with a news website, and earns a salary in six figures.  

Sidra’s niece Fatima is an O level student. While her class fellows would spend almost Rs 40,000 to Rs 60,000 per month on the tuition of math, chemistry, biology, physics and even history, Fatima found plenty of tutorial material on Khan Academy, a free online course website, where lessons on school subjects are offered free of cost. She did all elusive math problems with the help of Khan Academy video lessons. 

During the lockdown stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic, people all over the world had plenty of time for being at home, and they took such courses to grow their knowledge as well.

While students and adult learners may find a good number of educational and vocational videos, the basic difference between the course websites and Youtube lessons is that dedicated online courses offer a complete package – course material (reading, videos, assignments, interactive discussion forums, interaction with teachers and combined projects, etc.) whereas Youtube videos only offer a one-way lecture on a topic with a limited scale.

In 2013, I met Bilal Musharraf, the son of retired General Pervez Musharraf in Doha at one of the world’s biggest annual events on education — WISE (World Innovation Summit for Education) 2013 where he delivered his presentation on ‘Education for anyone, anywhere’. At that time, he was the Dean of Translation with US-based Khan Academy. This is the time I came to know about this a not-for-profit website that aims at changing education for the better by providing free world-class education for anyone anywhere. Since then, I have been tracking online course programs and have completed more than 100 online courses on language, journalism, parenting, history, online marketing, public speaking, research, and so on. These courses were offered by US universities. 

Based on my consistent chase of the online education world, here I offer a list of recommended high-quality sites that offer free courses.


Since 2004, the site has uploaded more than 100,000 lessons on mathematics, history, healthcare, medicine, finance, physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, economics, cosmology, organic chemistry, macroeconomics, microeconomics, computer science, and even history and art. These videos have been watched more than 1,000 million times. More than 10 million learners use the website every month from 200 countries and more than a billion practice exercises have been solved on the platform. The website has translated and uploaded more than 1,000 videos in Urdu on YouTube. 


The website with American and European universities and organizations offer four to six weeks courses on a wide variety of topics.


The site has thousands of lectures, videos, and podcasts from universities around the world, such as England, Australia, Wales, and many state universities around the United States. 


Udemy’s free courses offer access to customized courses where learners can work with top professors and schools. The content is of top quality which can be accessed free as well. Advanced courses are offered on payment. 

There is a long list: Academic Earth, edX, Alison (highly recommended), iTunesU Free Courses, Harvard, Open Yale Courses, UC Berkeley Class Central, MIT OpenCourseWare, Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative, Codecademy, Code, University of London Podcasts, University of Oxford Podcasts, BBC Podcasts, TED-Ed, LessonPaths, Memrise, National Geographic Kids, and Fun Brain. 

Once you have read this piece, browse a couple of sites mentioned above, enroll in one program of your interest, and take your first step towards online education. Good luck!