HEC Proposes Establishment Of Pakistan Window at Oxford University

HEC proposed the establishment of “Pakistan Window” at Univ of Oxford to facilitate Pakistani students & researchers to increase their footprint in prestigious institution.

HEC Proposes Establishment Of Pakistan Window at Oxford University

Higher Education Commission (HEC) Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed on Tuesday proposed the establishment of a “Pakistan Window” at the University of Oxford to facilitate Pakistani students and researchers to increase their footprint in the prestigious institution.

The delegation of renowned scholars of academia, researchers and Pakistani-origin professors at Oxford separately called on the HEC chairman, the federal education minister and the Nadra chief on Tuesday. The meeting between the Oxford delegation and the HEC officials discussed ways to address the issue of Pakistan’s under-representation at the University of Oxford. HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed on proposed the establishment of a “Pakistan Window” at Oxford University.

HEC chief Dr Mukhtar Ahmed 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 also highlighted the achievements of the Pakistan-UK Education Gateway and urged for the commencement of other practical measures, including sponsorship for the mobility of students and scholars. Demand of Pakistan window at Oxford University made to facilitate the Pakistani researchers.

A press release issued by the HEC said Dr Ahmed emphasized that the ‘Pakistan Chair’ at Oxford should be made functional. He added 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 Pakistani institutions.

He also underlined the areas of joint research on global challenges, postdoctoral fellowship and leadership training programme for collaboration between the Pakistani universities and the University of Oxford. Principal Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University, Prof Stephen Blyth, who headed the delegation, appreciated the HEC’s role in the promotion of higher education and research in Pakistan.

He hoped that the efforts of the 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.

On the other hand, Education Minister in his meeting with the Oxford Pakistan Programme (OPP) delegation highlighted the potential of Pakistani students and sought more scholarships for them to study at the University of Oxford.

During his meeting with the delegation at his ministry office, Education Minister said there was a need to establish a number of scholarships, especially for women at Lady Margret Hall. The minister suggested there should be faculty and student exchange, scholarships for students, sharing of information and experiences about each other’s academic policies and initiatives, organisation of seminars and conferences, short-term training, capacity building of staff and reciprocal visits of officials.

The minister was briefed that Oxford Pakistan Programme had three core objectives: to address the under-representation of Pakistani and British-Pakistani students at the University of Oxford; to promote academic exchange between Oxford University and Pakistan’s institutions of higher learning, and to broaden academic conversations on Pakistan beyond the narrow remits of security and geopolitics.

As per the statement, having raised pledges of £1.5 million over the next five years, Oxford Pakistan Programme strives to provide an ideal platform of merit-based scholarships for economically underprivileged yet high net-worth individuals from Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab. The programme also includes a window of assistance specifically reserved for Pakistani women that primarily aims at ensuring gender diversity and inclusivity.

The OPP delegation also called on National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) Chairman Tariq Malik to witness Nadra’s initiatives for digital transformation and to explore opportunities for collaboration on new ethical standards for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its various digital interventions.

Elaborating on the collaboration with Oxford University, Mr Malik said: “We would appreciate the knowledge sharing on the ethical use of AI by collaborating with New Oxford Schwartzman Institute. We are also working in close collaboration with the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government in showcasing Nadra’s experience in the use of digital ID for e-governance and sustainable development.”

It is learnt that Nadra intends to tap into Oxford’s resources to train its staff in the strategic reform unit, a new department created by the incumbent chairman. “We believe that the use of digital technologies in coping with aftermaths of crises, pandemic and disasters provide used cases for states struggling with climate adaptation and resilience,” Mr Malik added.

Speaking on the occasion, Prof Stephen Blyth said: “It was a very learning opportunity from Nadra’s data being used appropriately and perfectly. Nadra has built extraordinary capability and clarity about digital ID programme in providing solutions for identification, e-governance and secure documents facilitating the public at large. We are quite hopeful that Nadra will reach new heights of success in digital transformation and AI through unmatched innovation.”


Originally published at Dawn