UK-Pakistan educational alliance takes flight

English educators, Pakistani counterparts to explore new collaborations

Zaigham Naqvi April 24, 2024


A landmark delegation comprising top-tier UK universities, education advocates, and experts, led by Sir Steve Smith, the UK Government’s International Education Champion, has embarked on a five-day journey to Pakistan.

This pivotal visit aims to fortify educational bonds between the two nations and explore avenues for enduring, collaborative partnerships that transcend mere student recruitment.

Bolstering the UK’s dedication to international cooperation in higher education, the delegation—co-organised by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC), the British High Commission, British Council in Pakistan, the Department for Business and Trade (DBT), and the Department for Education (DfE)—comprises esteemed representatives from the UK government, British Council, and 16 leaders from UK higher education institutions and sector organisations, all eager to deepen existing ties and forge new connections with their Pakistani counterparts.

The delegation’s focal points include advancing areas such as Transnational Education (TNE), joint research ventures, and faculty development programmes, with a keen emphasis on fostering mutually advantageous partnerships between UK and Pakistani universities.

Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training, extended a warm welcome to the delegation, reaffirming Pakistan’s commitment to propelling higher education forward and positively impacting lives through research commercialisation, innovation, and collaborative partnerships among government, universities, industries, and society. He emphasised that Pakistan’s transformed higher education sector positions its youth and academia for development, innovation, and transformative change.

Sir Steve Smith, the UK Government’s International Education Champion, remarked, “Building on the positive momentum of our work in Pakistan, I’m thrilled to lead this delegation. Pakistan’s dynamic higher education sector boasts impressive growth, and we see immense potential for collaboration. We are committed to fostering partnerships that create a lasting impact through knowledge exchange and joint initiatives."

Jane Marriott, the British High Commissioner to Pakistan, highlighted the longstanding history of educational exchange between the UK and Pakistan, emphasising the visit’s significance in strengthening these ties further. She noted that by collaborating, universities from both nations can address global challenges, nurture future-ready graduates, and contribute to the continued growth of Pakistan's higher education sector.

HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed acknowledged the significant evolution of Pakistan’s higher education landscape over the past two decades, attributing it to reforms by HEC with robust government support. He emphasised that collaboration with UK universities aims to enhance education and research mutually, promote access to quality education, and facilitate credit transfer and student mobility for societal and economic development. The visit of higher education leaders from the UK signifies a strategic partnership for sustainable cooperation and mutual benefits.

Throughout the visit, the delegation will engage with various stakeholders, including representatives from leading Pakistani universities, senior officials from the federal government and HEC, as well as education sector leaders and experts.

This visit aligns with the objectives of the Pakistan UK Education Gateway, a flagship programme launched in 2018, jointly funded by the Government of Pakistan and the British Council. The Gateway aims to facilitate collaboration across various areas, including those highlighted during this visit.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 24th, 2024.


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