The two-day 3rd Annual Conference of CPEC Consortium of CPEC Universities was inaugurated under the aegis of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) at Jinnah Convention Centre, Islamabad on Monday. The theme of the conference was Academic Collaboration for Sustainable Partnerships.
Makhdoom Khusro Bukhtiar, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform was chief guest at the inaugural ceremony. Yao Jing, Ambassador of China to Pakistan, Lt. Gen. (R) Muhammad Asghar, Consultant CPEC, HEC, Guan Peijun, Vice President, Chinese Association of Higher Education, and Dr Moeed Yousuf, Chairman, Strategic Policy Planning Cell also graced the occasion.
The CPEC Consortium of Universities was founded in Islamabad in August 2017 as “CPEC Consortium of Business Schools” to promote business-to-business linkages between China and Pakistan and help study relocation of Chinese businesses in the planned industrial parks in Pakistan under CPEC. The initiative was launched under the auspices of HEC and China Association of Higher Education (CAHE). However, the scope of the Consortium had been enhanced to cover all major domains of higher education and currently as many as 56 universities from two countries are now a part of the Consortium.
Addressing the ceremony, Khusro Bukhtiar hoped that the collaboration under the banner of CPEC Consortium of Universities would broaden the scope of bilateral relations between Pakistan and China. Khusro said that the various components covered under CPEC Consortium of Universities would further improve people-to-people contacts. The Minister added the academic community’s role through the Consortium would pave the way for economic growth as all this coincided with the 4th industrial revolution.
The Minister urged the universities to carry out diagnostic studies of all crucial sectors, as it would unleash the potential areas in which Pakistan needed to conduct research and come up with sustainable solutions. He stressed the need for promoting broad-based cooperation and synergy to jointly work in different fields including data science, artificial intelligence, technology, agriculture. He assured the academia of all-out government’s support in this regard.
In his address, the Chinese Ambassador said that Pakistan and China enjoy cordial relations. He added that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projected, including the CPEC Consortium of Universities, are recent manifestations of strong bilateral relations. He said the Consortium is a vital platform to connect people of both the countries.
In his remarks, Dr Moeed Yusuf said it was the age of global connectivity, in which the Consortium of Universities would play its important role in execution of CPEC and the Road and Belt initiatives. He encouraged the universities to conduct research on important national issues and bring their findings to the Strategic Policy Planning Cell. “Academics play an important role in informing policy makers in what works and what doesn’t. I encourage institutions of higher learning to come up with solutions to our national problems so that same may be presented to policy makers,” he said.
Earlier, in his welcome address, Lt. Gen. (R) Muhammad Asghar said the conference would help promote people-to-people contacts. He emphasized that Pakistan needed to learn from China as to how it lifted its population from poverty. He noted that economic supremacy of China was due to its technological advancement, as it had excelled in 5G, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, quantum computing and other technological spheres.
He said that various sessions of the conference would review progress of academic collaborations among partner institutions, identify new areas of cooperation for development of human resource, seek ways to expand academic linkages among the universities of the two countries, promote harmony and invigorate people-to-people contacts, explore joint research projects and areas of convergence, plan joint conferences, seminars and workshops, strive for internationalization of higher education, and support historic transition under CPEC.
The conference also included a higher education, science, arts and technology expo where the participating universities had displayed their products, particularly artwork.
Three parallel sessions were held on the first day including Developing Research Universities for lead role in national development, teaching excellence for employ-ability of graduates, and research management to solve national and regional challenges with a focus on CPEC.