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Italian Academic Delegation Agrees to Enhance Collaboration in Higher Education Sector

Islamabad (Staff Report): The Higher Education Commission (HEC), Pakistan values foreign collaborations and it has reached a number of agreements with several countries under which joint initiatives are taken for mutual academic uplift.

Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman HEC stated this while chairing Vice Chancellors Conference. The conference was attended by Dr. Arshad Ali, Dr. Mahmood-ul-Hassan Butt, Consultant, HEC, Mr. Awais Ahmad, Director General Administration and Coordination, HEC and a large number of Vice Chancellors of Pakistani universities as well as a delegation of Italian academicians, currently on visit to Pakistan.

The Italian delegation was headed by Prof. Federico Cinquenplami, Head of Unit for Internationalisation of Higher Education of Italian Ministry of Education, while the delegation also comprised Prof. Carlo Giovanni Cereti, Delegate of the Rector for Cooperation, La Sapienza, Prof. Ms. Margherita Turvani, Associate Professor of Political Economy and Economic Policy, Universita IUAV di Venezia, Prof. Alberto Guadagnini, Director Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Politecnico Di Milano, Prof. Dr. Maco Ceresa, Director Department of Studies on Asia and Mediterranean Africa, and other notable figures from Italian academia.

The conference deliberated on bilateral collaboration between Pakistani and Italian higher education institutions. The two sides agreed to expand mutual collaboration through joint research projects, award of scholarships, student mobility and faculty exchange programme.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed said HEC has been actively promoting higher education in Pakistan since its inception in 2002. The Commission, he added, initially focused on ensuring equitable access to quality higher education as well as relevance of research to indigenous needs. He said that the number of universities in Pakistan in 2002 was only 59, while now 188 public and private sector universities are operating in the country. He added that only 800 research publications could surface before the establishment of HEC, however now the number of research publications has reached 12000 annually.

The Chairman underlined that HEC values foreign collaborations and it has reached many agreements with foreign countries under which joint initiatives are taken for mutual academic uplift. HEC welcomes joint collaborative endeavours with Italian academia, he stated.

In his remarks, Stefano Pontecorvo, Ambassador of Italy to Pakistan said that collaboration between Pakistan and Italy in the higher education sector will prove bilaterally beneficial. He stated that Italy accords high importance to its relations with Pakistan. The bilateral relations have a great potential of improvement, he observed, as people of both the countries understand each other.

Prof. Carlo Giovanni Cereti said Italy has long educational traditions. He informed the meeting participants that the world’s leading university rankings place Sapienza at the forefront among Italian universities for quality of research and teaching and for its international dimension. In the sectoral charts, the University excels and qualifies as a benchmark for many disciplines. He said Italy envisions to convert its higher education system into English.

The Italian academicians also expressed their views about the significance of bilateral collaboration while sharing the salient features of their respective institutions. Later, the delegation also visited National University of Science and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Lahore University of Management Sciences, and University fo Engineering and Technology (UET) during the stay.

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About AR Sajid

The writer is journalist by profession and working as Joint Editor.

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