Promotion of higher education is the highest priority of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf government, Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood said on Monday.

The minister was addressing a launch ceremony of Pakistan-UK Education Gateway held at the Higher Education Commission Secretariat. Notable attendants included HEC Chairman Dr Tariq Banuri, Executive Director Lt Gen (R) Muhammad Asghar, British High Commissioner to Pakistan Thomas Drew, British Council Country Director Rosemary Hilhorst and Association of Commonwealth Universities Secretary General Joanna Newman. A delegation of 20 representatives of top UK universities currently on visit to Pakistan also attended the ceremony.

The Pakistan-UK Education Gateway Programme will prove to be a constant means of cooperation between the higher education sectors of the two countries. The critical areas to be covered in the Pakistan-UK Education Gateway include split PhD programmes, full-fledged PhD programmes, student and faculty exchange, easy student mobility, involvement of funding agencies and research entities, quality and governance at higher education institutions, and capacity building through short training programmes. There are seven elements of the Pakistan-UK Gateway: form research partnerships, help find PhD scholarships for Pakistanis, support leadership development and introducing quality assurance systems, bring more opportunities through distance learning, help more Pakistani students study in the UK, build Pakistan’s position as a market for transnational education and finally a compulsory three credit course on citizenship – modelled on active citizens.

Addressing the participants, Minister Shafqat Mahmood said the launch of Pakistan-UK Education Gateway was an august occasion in the history of Pakistan-UK relations. He said the two countries enjoyed deep and strong cordial relations, adding that the initiative would further strengthen the bilateral relations between Pakistan and the UK. He said Pakistan had a long way to go in its efforts to develop the higher education sector.

Identifying challenges facing the higher education sector, Mahmood said the country needed to exert tremendous efforts on improving quality and ensuing relevance of higher education and research. He urged the vice chancellors to prepare students for the future challenges and work on improving the methodology of imparting knowledge, as the knowledge base of future would be different. “It is also imperative to develop skills of our youth in consonance with the job market needs,” he underlined.

HEC Chairman Dr Banuri said Pakistan and the UK had developed outstanding academic relationship. He informed the audience that as many as 386 Pakistani scholars had completed their PhD studies from UK universities in the recent years.

“It is a brilliant start. Yet, we want to take it not only to thousands but to tens of thousands,” he underlined. He stressed the need for developing the bilateral academic relationship in a way that helped Pakistan build up its universities. He underscored that global parity was essential to help the future generations address the challenges. “We need to train our children to be global citizens, as we know for sure that the challenges they will face will be of global character,” he stated.


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