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ISLAMABAD: A delegation of leading UK universities, education champions and experts led by the UK government’s International Education Champion, Sir Steve Smith, has embarked on a five-day visit to Pakistan aimed at strengthening educational ties between the two nations and exploring opportunities for long-term, collaborative partnerships in higher education.

The visit co-organised by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan, the British High Commission, British Council in Pakistan, the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) and the Department for Education (DfE), comprises senior representatives from the UK government, British Council and 16 leaders of UK higher education providers and sector organizations who look forward to deepening, expanding and setting up new links with their Pakistani counterparts. The visit supports the objectives of the flagship initiative Pakistan UK Education Gateway launched in 2018.

Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui was chief guest in the inaugural conference held here on Monday.

HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed, UK International Education Champion Sir Steve Smith, British High Commissioner Jane Marriot, Executive Director HEC DrZiaulQayyum, Director Education, British Council, Maddalaine Ansell, vice-chancellors from various public and private universities, education experts and other stakeholders were present on the occasion. The conference was marked by the launch of Transnational Education Policy (TNE).

Siddiqui said that such collaborations will serve as a bridge between the two countries. The government, he said, would leave no stone unturned to support such initiatives in Pakistan for the development of the higher education sector. He asserted that collaborations in the higher education sector will also improve people-to-people contact which will further strengthen the bilateral relations.

Chairman HEC Dr Mukhtar Ahmed said that the landscape of higher education has transformed in Pakistan over the last two decades.

“Internationalization and collaborative work with the world leading universities is an important strategic priority of HEC which aims to pitch Pakistan on the higher education and research arena and also provide as means of knowledge transfer, improve quality of learning and productivity of research, build governance and leadership potential, and enhance access to world’s best education at affordable cost.”

He said that the visit of higher education leaders from the UK is a significant endeavour to co-work with UK universities for the improvement of higher education, research and development in Pakistan.

“The TNE policy aims at prompting access to high-quality international education to a wider society and advance social and economic development. I am confident that the visit will unfold huge opportunities for enhancing person-to-person and institution-to-institution cooperation on a sustainable basis for mutual dividends.”

The UK government’s International Education Champion Sir Smith said, “Building on the positive momentum of our work in Pakistan, I am thrilled to lead this delegation. Pakistan’s dynamic higher education sector boasts impressive growth, and we see immense potential for collaboration. We are committed to fostering partnerships that create a lasting impact through knowledge exchange and joint initiatives.”

British High Commissioner to Pakistan Jane Marriott said, “The UK and Pakistan share a long history of educational exchange, and this visit signifies our unwavering commitment to strengthening these ties further. By working together, our universities can address global challenges, cultivate future-ready graduates, and contribute to the continued growth of Pakistan’s higher education sector.”

The HEC executive director underlined that the collaboration between the Pakistani and the UK higher education institutions is aimed at benefiting from one another’s strengths. He said HEC is committed to enabling and facilitating faculty-to-faculty, programme-to-programme, and institution-to-institution partnerships. Reiterating HEC’s commitment to safeguarding the learners’ interest, the Executive Director referred to the National Qualification Framework (NQF) and assured that HEC is working on the NQF having a perspective in the TNE. He maintained that HEC is mindful of the significance of dual or joint degree programmes.

The opening ceremony was followed by a panel discussion on Advancing Sustainable Collaboration by Pakistani and UK academicians. Vice Chancellor NED UET Karachi Dr Sarosh Hashmat Lodhi, Rector NUST Lt Gen Javed Mahmood Bukhari (retired), Vice Chancellor UAF DrIqrar Ahmed Khan, and Vice Chancellor PIFD Prof Hina Tayyaba Khalil were the Pakistani academicians who took part in the discussion.

On the UK side, the discussion was joined by Vice Chancellor Oxford Brookes University Prof Alistair Fitt, Pro Vice-Chancellor Staffordshire University Prof Raheel Nawaz, and Dean Global Engagement University of Glasgow Prof Moyra Boland. The panel discussion was followed by a question-and-answer session.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024


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