Ahsan Iqbal and UK Delegation Unveil Bold Plans


Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives (MoPDSI) Mr Ahsan Iqbal held a meeting with a delegation led by Mr. Steve Smith, the UK Government’s International Education Champion, along with officials of the British High Commission, including County Director Pakistan, James Hampson, and Jo Moir, Director of Development, British High Commission.

Minister Iqbal discussed key recommendations aimed at fostering closer ties and enhancing collaboration between educational institutions in both countries. The recommendations proposed by the Minister included initiating faculty training programs to bolster academic expertise across borders, encouraging UK universities to establish campuses in Pakistan to promote educational accessibility, and harnessing the expertise of Pakistani scholars in UK universities to develop specialized knowledge clusters on Pakistan, facilitating stronger academia-to-masses connections.

Highlighting the imperative for joint research initiatives, Minister Iqbal emphasized the importance of establishing joint research groups and fostering collaborations between PhD scholars from both countries. “Pakistan envisions a future where universities in Pakistan are categorized into the Champions League (having first-tier universities) and the National League (having second-tier universities), driving excellence and accessibility in higher education,” stated Minister Iqbal.

Echoing the sentiment, Mr. Steve Smith reaffirmed the UK government’s commitment to fostering international partnerships in education, citing the presence of over 20,000 Pakistani students in the UK and 8,000 students pursuing degree programs in Pakistan supported by the British government.

Recalling transformative steps taken by the Pakistani government to enhance higher education standards, the Minister told the delegation, “In the last tenure, I worked hard with HEC to develop a quality assurance model in consultation with the UK. As a result, a new performance audit was conducted for every university to improve the quality of higher education in Pakistan.”

Highlighting the power of collaboration between the UK and Pakistan, the Minister stated that the Revamped Quality Assurance (QA) Framework for Higher Education in Pakistan, which was launched in 2023, was made possible through extensive support by the British Council Pakistan. The Performance Audit Framework of HEC is aligned with the Government of Pakistan’s seven themes on Quality Assurance for higher education.

The Revamped QA Framework represents a paradigm shift in how higher education quality is assessed, maintained, and enhanced. Crafted through collaboration with renowned British experts, the framework aligns with global best practices while addressing the unique needs of the Pakistani education landscape. The Revamped QA Framework enhances the recognition and reputation of Pakistani institutions on the global stage. It promotes collaboration, quality enhancement, and academic integrity.

Drawing comparison with South Asian countries, Minister Ahsan Iqbal said, “School enrollment in India at the tertiary level is 31.57 percent, in Bangladesh it is 22.84 percent, while in Pakistan it is 12.5 percent according to the World Bank collection of development indicators, a study done in 2022.” Pakistan is developing a knowledge ecosystem that will attract people to pursue higher education. The Minister emphasized that the government is dedicated to ensuring that every young person who is capable of pursuing higher education must have access to a university.

Addressing regulatory challenges, both sides underscored the need for streamlined regulations, with a particular emphasis on minimizing hurdles for universities and strengthening the link between research institutions and economic growth. The meeting concluded with a shared commitment to further dialogue and concrete action towards realizing the outlined recommendations, solidifying the foundation for enduring academic cooperation between the two countries.

Related: Ahsan inaugurates three centers of excellence in LUMS, GIKI, UET

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