Higher Education Commission (HEC) Pakistan has awarded six-month Research Fellowships to 156 PhD scholars for top 200 universities of the world during the 53rd award ceremony under the International Research Support Initiative Program (IRSIP).

Under IRSIP, HEC has so far distributed a total of 6,545 awards, representing 79 Pakistani universities. Among the current awardees, six scholars are going to the top 10 universities, 44 to top 50 universities, and 71 to top 100 universities of the world.

Chairman HEC Dr Mukhtar Ahmed was the chief guest of the ceremony, also attended by Director General (Human Research Development Division) HEC Ms Aayesha Ikram, Vice Chancellors, faculty members, IRSIP experts and reviewers, supervisors, alumni and awardees, and parents. The event started with a pre-departure orientation by Project Director (HRD) Jehanzeb Khan.

In his remarks, Dr Mukhtar Ahmed highlighted the importance of research and training opportunities for doctoral students at advanced research laboratories of reputed universities abroad. He said, “The program helps enhance the quality of doctoral research being conducted in Pakistan.”

Appreciating the Government for prioritising higher education despite financial constraints, the Chairman advised the scholars to exploit the opportunity, enhance their skill set, learn work ethics, and dedicate themselves to and focus on their work to deliver for Pakistan. He said HEC is committed to facilitating the youth to get the best opportunities of higher education, research, and training so that they are equipped to make commendable contributions to the socio-economic development of the country.

Director General HEC Ms Aayesha Ikram congratulated the scholars on behalf of HEC and urged them to make the best use of the opportunity. She advised them to take this first-hand experience to adopt the quality of a good researcher and ensure their works trickle down effect. She urged them to earn different exposures to enrich their potential and skills. She also highlighted the importance of demonstrating responsible behavior, as it will reflect how Pakistani people at large are. She advised them to enhance their work ethics by interacting with their international counterparts. “You can prove that the Pakistanis have the capacity to be the best,” she concluded.

Vice-Chancellor Capital University of Science and Technology (CUST) Dr Mansoor Ahmed, who is a reviewer of the progarm, appreciated the role of HEC, especially the Scholarship Division, for investing in human resource development. He said HEC programs are aimed to improve the academic standards of universities, the level of research, and the quality of human capital. He said the scholars selected for the awards are the blessed ones as they are having an exposure of the world’s best universities. He urged them to ensure effective utilisation of the opportunity by managing their time effectively.

Dr Rubab Zehra, a Professor at Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) Islamabad expressed her experience of being Reviewer IRSIP. She said the selection process for IRSIP is rigorous and merit-based, however it is not meant to discourage anyone, as failures make one realise the need for doing better. She said that sending 157 scholars abroad means that the same number of experiences are coming back to Pakistan.

The objectives of IRSIP are to enhance research quality and manpower capabilities, improve linkages between Pakistani and foreign institutions, and create a critical mass of highly qualified manpower that could contribute towards the development of Pakistan. HEC is introducing Pakistani talent globally, as the IRSIP scholars carry out research in top universities of various countries including the United Kingdom, United States, European countries, Austria, Germany, Netherlands, Korea, China, Malaysia, and so on.

Related: Financial Issues: AJK Universities Seek Solutions from HEC

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