Chairman Higher Education Commission (HEC) Dr Mukhtar Ahmed has stressed the need for setting up a ‘Pakistan Window’ at the University of Oxford (OX) and an ‘Oxford University Window’ at HEC to facilitate the Pakistani students and researchers for availing different opportunities and programs at the University of Oxford.

Dr Mukhtar Ahmed said this while talking to a delegation of the University of Oxford and Oxford Pakistan Program (OPP) during their visit to HEC Secretariat. The delegation called on Chairman HEC Dr Mukhtar Ahmed and senior HEC management and discussed ways to address the issue of Pakistan’s under-representation at the University of Oxford.

Welcoming the delegates, Dr Mukhtar Ahmed shed light on the profile and objectives of HEC. He assured the delegation of HEC’s support in increasing access of Pakistani students and scholars to the University of Oxford. He said HEC will facilitate institution-to-institution collaboration in academic and research areas. He stressed the need for joint efforts to enhance the number of Pakistani scholars in Oxford, where only 22 Pakistani students have been granted scholarships for higher studies. He highlighted the achievements of Pakistan-UK Education Gateway and urged for commencement of other practical measures including sponsorship for mobility of students and scholars.

The Chairman emphasized that the Pakistan Chair at Oxford must be made functional. He said that the Pakistani diaspora, especially the Pakistani families living in the UK for generations, must be provided opportunities to get acquainted with their ancestral culture by extending them internships and other opportunities in the best Pakistani institutions. He also underlined the areas of joint research on global challenges, postdoctoral fellowship, and leadership training program for collaboration between the Pakistani universities and University of Oxford.

Principal Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University, Prof Stephen Blyth, who headed the delegation, appreciated HEC’ role in promotion of higher education and research in Pakistan. He hoped that the efforts of HEC to develop university-to-university collaboration will help increase access of Pakistani students to study at Oxford and address the issue of Pakistan’s under-representation in the university.

Highlighting the background and objectives of OPP, the OPP representatives said that OPP is the first initiative of its kind that seeks to create new opportunities for Pakistani scholars and support Pakistan-related activities at the University of Oxford. The main objectives of OPP include raising the academic profile of Pakistan, and Pakistan-related studies at the University of Oxford; acting as a bridge between the University of Oxford and Pakistan’s academic community through the exchange of scholars and sharing of scholarship; and increasing the representation of Pakistani and British Pakistani students at the University of Oxford.

The Oxford University delegation comprised Dr Nick Brown; Associate, Tavistock Consulting Ms Fiona Blyth; Development Director, Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University, Mr Richard Hunt; and Professor at Oxford Department of International Development Oxford University, Prof Adeel Malik; while the delegation from OPP included Lecturer in Material Sciences, Oxford, Dr Talha Pirzada; Associate at Travers Smith LLP, Mr Haroon Zaman; Associate Director, Barclays Bank, Ms Minahil Saqib; Vice President, Blackrock London, Dr Mohsin Javed; and Coordinator OPP in Pakistan, Mr Ahmad Owais Pirzada. Director Development, Ministry of Federal Education & Professional Training, Mr Yasir Irfan also accompanied the delegates.

From HEC side, the meeting was attended by Executive Director HEC Dr Shaista Sohail, Adviser, Quality Assurance & Global Engagement HEC Mr Awais Ahmed, Adviser Academics, Accreditation and National Academy of Higher Education Engr Muhammad Raza Chohan, and Adviser Planning, Development and Finance Engr Dr Muhammad Mazhar Saeed.

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Arsalan Haider is a reporter at Academia Mag and has worked with leading national dailies and news channels. He tweets @arsalanhaider14

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