During a meeting with the Higher Education Commission (HEC) Chairman Dr Tariq Banuri, Austrian Ambassador to Pakistan Dr Brigitta Blaha announced that there was a joint venture in the works between the higher education sectors of two countries called Pak-Austria Fachhochschule: Institute of Applied Sciences & Technology (PAF-IAST).
The institute is being established in University of Haripur in collaboration with several Austrian institutions. She explained that Institute has dual objectives; creating a high quality technical education infrastructure at a tertiary level and creating high technology industry.
During the meeting HEC Chairman Dr Banuri, stressed the need for international collaboration in the education sector. He emphasised on its role as a stepping stone toward economic stability and social development.
The chairman welcomed the ambassador and placing importance on international partnerships he added that several Pakistani Higher Education Institutions have an encouraging history of academic collaboration with the Austrian education sector and assured that the HEC would continue to create opportunities for beneficial academic collaboration between the two countries.
Dr Brigitta Blaha assured that her office will extend its cooperation in strengthening academic and research linkages between the two countries. According to Dr Blaha, currently 41 Pakistani students are pursuing PhD degree in Austrian institutions. She emphasised on the critical need for enhancing this number.
Their meeting took place on June 21, 2018. HEC Executive Director Prof Dr Arshad Ali also joined the meeting.
Dr Banuri expressed his opinion that the improvement of Pakistani higher education sector over a short span of 15 years under the umbrella of HEC has become a possibility through the help and support of the Government of Pakistan.
He also highlighted that Pakistan Vision 2025 has added new reforms for the higher education sector.
Dr Banuri voiced his commitment to adopting a wholesome approach for advancement in all areas of the higher education sector including human resource development, promotion of basic and applied research, establishing university-industry linkage, encouraging entrepreneurial culture, quality education, physical and technology infrastructure development and international collaboration.
He said Pakistan and Austria have great potential to further strengthen their academic linkages and research collaboration that would play an effective role in accelerating development of the higher education sector of both the countries.
HEC Executive Director Dr Arshad Ali appreciated the efforts of the Government of Austria for supporting the reform process of the higher education sector in Pakistan through establishment of the new Institution and wished that this journey of cooperation would continue at the same pace.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 22nd, 2018.