Islamabad - Ciarán Devane, the new chief executive officer of the British Council, visited Higher Education Commission (HEC) on Tuesday to participate in an orientation event “The UK and Pakistan: Increasing Investment in Research for Higher Education.”

The programme aimed to provide an opportunity to beneficiaries of the HEC-British Council collaborative education and research initiatives to meet the new CEO and benefit from his international experience and proficiency.

Chairman HEC Prof Dr Mukhtar Ahmed, Country Director British Council Pakistan, Peter Upton, and Acting Executive Director Dr Mansoor Akbar Kundi were also present, besides senior and junior level researchers from Pakistan’s higher education sector, on the occasion.

British Council has been working with HEC Pakistan since 2004 with the launch of joint Higher Education Links programme and later on with Phase-II of the same programme in 2006. The programme has been funded by the HEC and managed by the British Council in Pakistan.

To date, the British Council has built 50 research and capacity-building links between higher education institutions of Pakistan and UK.

So far, over 160 partnerships under various schemes have been funded in Pakistani universities. Some of the programmes on which HEC and British Council have cooperated include research partnerships, leadership, knowledge exchange, capacity building of senior management of higher education sector in strategic management, transnational education, quality assurance for Pakistani HEIs, scholarships, policy dialogues, talented research exchange, split-site PhDs, and transforming English language skills for higher education.

Speaking on the occasion, Devane said, “I am delighted to meet the academic and researcher community of Pakistan. I am grateful to HEC for inviting me to speak and meet so many partners doing such a good work together to strengthen research and higher education in Pakistan. Its really impressive to see the great work presented by senior researchers which shows how you are bringing together some most important sectors of the society, including academics, industry, students, media, and civil society.”

He said that the universities can play a very important role in stimulating and contributing to innovation and social and economic growth of any country. This role is in addition to core missions of teaching and research, complimenting and enhancing these.

“It is very promising to see that the government of Pakistan has expanding access to higher education and has worked substantially at policy level to improve scientific research activities in Pakistan. It is not simply about commercialisation of science through creation of spin-offs, licences etc.

It is so encouraging to see how British Council Pakistan and HEC have worked together to make the Pakistani universities as 21st century universities.”

Dr Mukhtar Ahmed said that the HEC and British Council relationship has helped strengthen Pakistan and UK links, raise the profile of the Pakistan-UK partnerships as innovative and high-quality through demonstrating how researchers and academicians can collaborate effectively, significantly contribute to the internationalisation of the institutions, contribute to capacity building in HEIs, facilitate and build effective and sustainable partnerships based on research and/or teaching agendas, and encourage multi-disciplinary research, teaching collaboration and/or knowledge transfer.

Some 98% of all university vice-chancellors in Pakistan have attended leadership training programmes in the UK, 76% of all current vice-chancellors contributed to policy dialogues/ global education dialogues that have been held across the South Asia region, 78,550 researchers and 97,767 students were involved in partnerships, in addition to 688 exchange visits took place from UK to Pakistan and vice-versa.