“It is high time to usher a new era of collaboration with the partner countries to promote tertiary education, joint research endeavours, and student exchange programmes.” This was stated by Executive Director Higher Education Commission (HEC) Dr. Shaista Sohail while addressing opening ceremony of the 4th Edition of Higher Education and Research Online Meeting of the Franco-Pakistani Institutions, a four-day event organised by the Embassy of France.
The event features thematic webinars on the topics of Engineering Sciences, Agriculture, Environment, Information Technology, Economics, Business and Management, Political Sciences, Social Sciences, Art, Design, Fashion, Gastronomy, and Tourism. As many as 18 top-ranked French universities and 17 Pakistani universities are participating in the event to showcase their research programmes.
Dr. Shaista welcomed the participating delegates from French educational institutions and hoped that the mutual collaboration will turn into a strategic partnership to gain broader benefits for Pakistani universities and scholars. She underlined that HEC was executing three scholarship programmes, including Overseas Scholarship Programme, Master’s and Doctorate scholarships for Engineering students, and scholarships for students of Balochistan, with an aim to enhance access to higher education for young Pakistanis.
She informed the participants that HEC, since 2007, facilitated 815 scholars to earn their Master’s and Doctoral degrees from top-ranked French universities. Out of 815 scholarship awardees, 653 have completed their doctoral and master degrees in last 11 years. “The higher education and research work are of vital importance for socio-economic development of a country in this modern era,” she stated.
Addressing the ceremony, Ambassador of France Mr. Marc Barety said that the Franco-Pakistani cultural, scientific and academic and technical cooperation was long-standing. He noted that higher education and research were the essential elements of bilateral cooperation between Pakistan and France. He underlined that France was determined to strengthen the academic relations with Pakistan, as mutual academic and scientific development will help ensure better understanding of each other.
The Ambassador highlighted the role and efforts of Campus France, a French public institution under the dual supervision of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, to enhance the educational cooperation. He said that Campus France promote French higher education in Pakistan, implemented scholarship and mobility programmes, facilitated the arrival of Pakistani students and researchers in France, animated the network of Pakistani alumni in French higher education, and offered Pakistani students a path to success through higher education in France.
He also mentioned the scholarship programmes funded by the French Embassy and managed by the Cooperation and Cultural Affairs Department. He also shed light on the services of Hubert Curien Péridot partnership, Pak-France Alumni Association (PFAN) and France Alumni Pakistan. He said that France and Pakistan had also been cooperating in the archaeological field since the late 1950s.
The session also contained a presentation on the HEC scholarship programmes by Adviser Human Resource Development, HEC, Dr. Hassan Jalil Shah. Dr. Shah highlighted the HEC’s human resource development initiatives, including the details of HEC’s partnership with the French higher education institutions. This was followed by presentations on study in France, scholarship and research programmes; PHC Peridot Research Programme; Erasmus+ Programme; and, the PFAN Alumni Association.