A delegation of British Council Pakistan held a meeting with Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman Higher Education Commission, HEC’s senior management and Vice Chancellors of various universities to discuss the modalities of Pakistan-UK Education Gateway, a programme envisioned to enhance collaboration between Pakistan and the United Kingdom.
The delegation led by Ms. Jo Beall, Director Education and Society, British Council comprised Ms. Rosemary Hilhorst, Country Director, British Council Pakistan, Ms. Nishat Riaz, Director Education, British Council Pakistan, Ms. Sarah Parvez, Head of Higher Education, British Council Pakistan, Mr. James Hampson, Deputy Director, British Council Pakistan, and Mr. Hamza Salim, Project Manager Higher Education, British Council Pakistan.
The purpose of the meeting was to contemplate over the dynamics of Pakistan-UK Education Gateway and to identify concrete steps to execute this programme in order to capitalise the bilateral collaboration in a more effective manner. The participants discussed possible areas of collaboration under the Gateway, including faculty exchange, research projects relevant to the countries’ socio-economic needs.
Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed shed light on the projects jointly initiated by HEC and the British Council. He said the two sides have so far jointly worked on more than 20 projects for promotion of higher education, including a Citizenship Programme. He affirmed that the HEC and British Council are committed to enhancing collaboration in the higher education sector.
The Chairman informed the delegation that HEC has so far awarded 2,51,000 scholarships to Pakistani students, however, the biggest challenge being faced by Pakistan is the lack of qualified faculty. He said that HEC, under HEC Vision 2025, has set a target to increase the PhD faculty from 26 per cent at present to 40 percent.
For this purpose, he said, HEC has initiated a number of programmes including Pak-US Knowledge Corridor through which 10,000 Pakistani scholars will be sent to US universities for higher studies. “HEC eyes a similar collaborative endevour with the United Kingdom in the form of Pak-UK Education Gateway,” he underlined.
Ms. Beall revealed that Pakistan and the United Kingdom have a long history of friendship and the academic collaboration between the two countries will further strengthen the bilateral relations. Referring to the Pakistan-UK Education Gateway, she hoped that the programme will prove to be a constant means of cooperation between the higher education sectors of the two countries.
Felicitating HEC on its 15th anniversary, Ms. Rosemary Hilhorst underscored that HEC has done an excellent job for promotion of higher education and research culture in Pakistan. She said that HEC and British Council have been enjoying a rich partnership since the inception of HEC in 2002. She added that the British Council is also celebrating 70 years of its work in Pakistan, which indicates the nature of strong bond between Pakistan and the United Kingdom.
She emphasized that HEC and British Council need to find a way to get strategically closer for the well-being of Pakistani youth. She observed that the population of youth in Pakistan is over 60 per cent and annually two million people enter into the workforce.
During the course of open discussion, the participants stressed the need for identifying critical areas to be focused in the proposed Pakistan-UK Education Gateway programme. They suggested inclusion of different areas to be covered in the programme like split PhDs, full-fledged PhDs, student and faculty exchange, easy student mobility and visa process, involvement of funding agencies and research entities, quality and governance at higher education institutions, and capacity building through short training programmes.
The meeting was also attended by Dr. Arshad Ali, Executive Director HEC, Dr. Masoom Yasinzai, Rector, International Islamic University Islamabad, Dr. Raheel Qamar, Vice Chancellor, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad, Dr. Javed Ashraf, Vice Chancellor, Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad, Mr. Asif Raza, Pro-Rector Academics, National University of Sciences and Technology Islamabad, Lt. Gen Syed Muhammad Imran Majeed, Vice Chancellor, National University of Medical Sciences, Islamabad, Maj. Gen Zia ud Din Najam, Rector, National University of Modern Languages Islamabad, Mr. Tariq Matin, Director Academics, Air University Islamabad, Mr. Waseem Hashmi Syed, Adviser HRD, HEC, Dr. Muhammad Latif, Adviser R&D HEC, Dr. Mazhar Saeed, DG (Planning and Development) HEC and Mr. Awais Ahmad, DG (Administration and Coordination) HEC.