Pak-French collaboration in higher education celebrated at HEC
Higher Education Commission (HEC) in collaboration with Embassy of France and Campus France Thursday celebrated Pak-French cooperation in higher education. Educational Minister, Engineer Muhammad Baligh-ur-Rehman was the chief guest on the occasion.
It was also attended by Chairman HEC Dr Mukhtar Ahmed, Ambassador of France to Pakistan Martine Dorance, Director Campus France Noor-ud-Din Manamani, professors from French universities, HEC alumni who graduated from France, and vice chancellors. Engineer Muhammad Baligh-ur-Rehman said higher education and research were vital for socio-economic development of a country in this modern era. He said Pakistan and France enjoy cordial relations, and celebration of French Day in Pakistan would strengthen the bilateral relations.
“French universities are among the world’s best higher learning institutions. I hope these collaborations will help Pakistani universities and scholars to learn from their French counterparts.” Appreciating the role of HEC, the minister said the successes in tertiary education sector could truly be attributed to HEC’s policies and strategies which had been augmented and supported by the current government in the way which was unprecedented. “We still have a long way to go for development of the sector,” he maintained. He said the government had been seeking promotion of education, elimination of extremism, end to energy crisis, and economic growth.
“The country has witnessed a significant progress in all these areas,” he asserted. Describing the background of academic collaboration between the two countries, Dr Mukhtar Ahmed informed that the commission had so far sent over 700 students to France for studies. He said about 450 students had returned and were serving the country. He welcomed 21 delegates from French educational institutions on their visit to Pakistani universities and hoped that mutual collaboration would into a strategic partnership.
The chairman said work on the plan to set up a French university in Pakistan was underway. He said it is high time to usher a new era of collaborative research and student exchange programmes. He informed that Pakistan and France were planning to organize a conference on Archaeology in Lahore soon, and a similar exhibition would also be held in Paris next year.
Shedding light on the HEC initiatives for uplift of higher education, he said the number of universities in Pakistan had reached 182 since the inception of HEC. He said the government was committed to pay due importance to higher education sector. He revealed that quality of education, access rate, and solution-oriented research are the main concerns of HEC.
He said the HEC was taking vital steps to cater to the need of qualified faculty, adding steps for the capacity building of the HEC employees were also afoot. In her remarks, Martine Dorance said France and Pakistan had forged a strong and long-lasting agenda of cooperation in academic and scientific fields. She said over the past years, hundreds of Pakistani students had obtained their PhD in the best French higher education institutions.
She said free access was offered to foreign students by the French government, adding Pakistani students were most welcome in the country. She said France reframed its partnership with Pakistan in the field of scientific cooperation in 2015 by launching Pakistan-France Joint Research Programme (PERIDOT). She noted that these synergies create a large community of interest that was also supported by the Pakistan-France Alumni Network which was now connected to France Alumni, a global network.
“I have no doubt that this major event will strengthen the partnership between our two countries, and will bear concrete fruits and create a sustainable academic cooperation, and bring more Pakistani students to my country,” she said.