Islamabad-Higher Education Commission in collaboration with Embassy of France on Thursday celebrated ‘Pak-French Cooperation’ in higher education sector to strengthen the bilateral relations.

The Minister of State for Federal Education and Professional Training, Baligh-ur-Rehman, Dr Chairman HEC Mukhtar Ahmed, Ambassador of France to Pakistan Martine Dorance, attended the ceremony.

Speaking on the occasion, Baligh-ur-Rehman said that higher education and research are of vital importance for socio-economic development of a country in this modern era.

“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,” he said.

He said the government has 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. Chairman HEC Dr Mukhtar Ahmed informed that the commission has so far sent over 700 students to France for studies.

“About 450 students have returned and are serving the country,” he said.

The chairman said that work on the plan to set up a French university in Pakistan is underway.

“Pakistan and France are planning to organise a conference on archaeology in Lahore soon, and a similar exhibition will also be held in Paris next year,” he said.

French Ambassador Martine Dorance said France and Pakistan have forged a strong and long-lasting agenda of cooperation in academic and scientific fields.

She said that over the past years, hundreds of Pakistani students have obtained their PhD in the best French higher education institutions.

She said free access is offered to foreign students by the French government, adding that Pakistani students are 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 Program (PERIDOT).

“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.