A Sri Lankan Delegation including Vice Chancellors, Deputy Vice Chancellors, Senior members of University Grant Commission (UGC) and Parliamentarians visited Higher Education Commission (HEC). The delegation is on a visit to Pakistan from May 2-9, 2019, as part of newly launched Pakistan-Sri Lanka Higher Education Cooperation Programme.
During HEC’s visit, the delegation held a meeting with senior HEC officials led by Dr Fateh Marri, Member (Operations and Planning) and discussed issues of mutual academic and professional interest, particularly briefings on Pakistan-Sri Lanka Higher Education Cooperation Programme and HEC’s accreditation and attestation processes.
Dr Marri expressed solidarity with the guests on recent terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka. He emphasised that Pakistan and Sri Lanka enjoy longstanding relations, which will be further strengthened by academic collaboration. He hoped that the two sides will further strengthen their academic bonds, wherein universities of both the countries will contribute to finding solution to regional problems including poverty, food insecurity, and terrorism.
“The academia has a shared responsibility to promote quality higher education and research and produce skilled human resource in the region,” he underlined.
HEC Director General (Planning and Development) Dr Mazhar Saeed, shed light on Pakistan-Sri Lanka Higher Education Cooperation Programme, which has five components including 1000 Allama Iqbal Scholarships for Sri Lankan Students, exchange of university faculty, trainings for Sri Lankan civil servants in areas of public administration, governance and leadership, establishment of a research centre on Asian Culture and Civilization in Sri Lanka as well as holding of Pakistan Higher Education Expo in Colombo.
He said the programme includes 800 fully-funded and 200 partially-funded scholarships for Sri Lankan students to pursue undergraduate, graduate, postgraduate and doctoral studies in top-ranked Pakistani universities in the next five years. He said Sri Lankan students will be selected after entrance test, and a semester of foundation course for the incoming students will be arranged.
The scholarships will be awarded in various disciplines including Engineering, Basic and Advanced Sciences and Social Sciences. The Sri Lankan students and scholars will be placed in Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi, COMSATS University, Islamabad, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Sukkur IBA University, University of Agriculture, Peshawar, Institute of Management Sciences, Peshawar, Government College University, Lahore, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore and University of Agriculture, Faisalabad.
Engineering students will be placed in 10 universities including NED University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi, Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology, Topi, University of Engineering and Technology, Peshawar, University of Engineering and Technology, Taxila, University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore, COMSATS University, Islamabad, National University of Sciences and Technology, Islamabad, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, National Textile University, Faisalabad and National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences, Islamabad.
He further said 50 short-term faculty exchanges will be made from Pakistan to Sri Lanka for seminars, conferences and other academic and research activities. Moreover, HEC will also offer 50 short-term trainings for Sri Lankan civil servants in areas of public administration, governance and leadership. He informed the delegation that preparations were underway for expo in Colombo, while deliberations were being made on establishment of Centre on Asian Culture and Civilization in one of the Sri Lankan universities.
The delegation expressed keen interest in the programme and assured that they will encourage their students to benefit from the scholarships.
On the occasion, HEC Managing Director Quality Assurance Dr Nadia Tahir highlighted HEC’s efforts to ensure quality of education and research in higher education institutions of Pakistan. She said Quality Enhancement Cells (QECs) were working in all universities to meet and evaluate quality parameters. She also underscored HEC’s endeavours to promote a research culture in Pakistani degree awarding institutions by setting up Offices of Research, Innovation and Commercialization and Business Incubation Centres.
HEC Director General, Accreditation and Attestation Tahir Abbas Zaidi described Commission’s mandate and functions with respect to accreditation and attestation of institutions, academic programmes and qualifications in the country. He said professional accreditation councils played a vital role in promotion of quality through accreditation, adding that HEC and the accreditation councils work in tandem to maintain quality standards of academic programmes being offered in the Pakistani universities.
HEC Director Library Javed Iqbal shared a presentation on HEC’s Digital Library. He said the library provided researchers within public and private sector universities and non-government R&D organisations online access to international scholarly literature.
The delegates said Sri Lankan institutions were very keen to develop bilateral programmes with HEC and Pakistani universities. They also appreciated HEC’s structure and operation model as well as its efforts to promote international collaboration.
The Sri Lankan delegation comprised Ministry of City Planning, Water Supply and Higher Education/ Additional Secretary (Development) Madhawa Dewasurendra, University Grants Commission Vice Chairman Prof P. S. M. Gunaratne, Wayamba University of Sri Lanka Vice Chancellor Prof E. M. P. Ekanayake, Eastern University of Sri Lanka Vice Chancellor Prof F. C. Ragel, Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka Vice Chancellor Prof M. Sunil Shantha, Uya Wellassa University of Sri Lanka Vice Chancellor Prof J. L. Rathasekera, Open University of Sri Lanka Deputy Vice Chancellor Dr A. P. Madurapperna, University of Moratuwa Deputy Vice Chancellor Prof P. K. S. Mahanama, Kotewala Defence University former Vice Chancellor Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Millinda Peiris, University of Ruhuna Dean (Faculty of Management) Dr Thusitha S. L. W. Gunawardana, former Sri Lankan ambassador Seyed Abdul Cader Mohammad Zuhyle and Kotelawala Defence University Dean, Faculty of Graduate Students R. G. Upali Rajapakshe. The delegates will also visit different Pakistani universities during their weeklong tour.
The meeting was also attended by HEC Director General Administration and Coordination Awais Ahmed and HEC Director General Academic Raza Chauhan and others.