President Dr Arif Alvi Wednesday called for enhancing bilateral collaboration between Pakistan and the United Kingdom to improve the quality and standards of higher education in the country.

He emphasised that improvement in the education sector would open up new avenues in the fields of health, agriculture and artificial intelligence.The president, addressing an event on Pak-UK Education Gateway, said the UK had always been supporting Pakistan, particularly in the fields of education and health.

The Gateway Programme aims to enhance partnership between the higher education sectors of Pakistan and the UK in the areas of innovative and collaborative research, higher education leadership, quality assurance and standard setting, distance learning, international mobility and transnational education.The program will support the ambitions set by the HEC in Vision 2025 which encompasses targets to increase gross higher education enrolment by 15 per cent, PhD faculty by 40 per cent, the number of universities to 300 and a total enrolment to 7.1 million.

President Alvi said since partition, the UK had been the first destination for Pakistanis to get education which also emerged as foundation of learning. Even currently, around 6,000 Pakistani students were studying there, he added.The president also spoke high of the British Council’s previous initiative of ‘Alif Ailan’ to promote STEM education in Pakistan.He appreciated the contributions of UK government towards the development of education sector of Pakistan.

Lauding the British Council’s plan to spend around 10 million pounds in higher education under the Pak-UK Education Gateway initiative, he said it would open up new avenues of learning for the Pakistani youth. He said owing to the resource constraints, Pakistan could not spend the required funds in the research sector and the UK cooperation would help fill the gap.

Executive Director of Higher Education Commission Shaista Sohail said the Pak-UK Gateway partnership was conceived in 2018, developed and designed by the HEC and British Council in collaboration with the universities.She said the project was going a long way to ensure the quality of the higher education which also helped Pakistan in launching an online teaching facility during the pandemic.