Synergizing Exercise with Pakistan’s Higher Education Institutions Begins

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Islamabad : An inaugural stakeholders’ consultative meeting organized under the auspices of the five-year USAID-funded Higher Education System Strengthening Activity (HESSA) project concluded at Marriott here on Wednesday.

The two-day event, titled ‘Building Strategic Alliances,’ comprised a gathering of senior representatives of public sector Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) from across all provinces of Pakistan. The participants included vice chancellors, pro vice chancellors, deans, senior faculty members, directors, and heads of departments.

The event was a teeing-off exercise undertaken to orient Pakistan’s higher education leadership with the HESSA project and its implementation strategy. The goals of HESSA, which were woven throughout the interactive sessions, included synergized working to provide a gateway for strengthening of the country’s HEIs, and to enhance the employability of Pakistani youth.

Research professor of economics at the University of Utah, Dr. M. Aslam Chaudhry, who is spearheading HESSA as Chief of Party, introduced the larger scope of the project while the currently visiting Dr. Frankie Laanan, Associate Dean, College of Education, University of Utah; Dr. Steve Burian, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Alabama; and Dr. Randy McCrillis, Dean of Students’ Affairs, University of Utah—spoke on the different dimensions of the project including leadership and institutional governance; education research and entrepreneurship; and student support services.

Dr. Akbar Zaidi, Executive Director, IBA Karachi, talked about improving HESSA linkages with Pakistan’s higher education institutions, while Dr. Sarosh Lodhi, Vice Chancellor NED-UET, Karachi, highlighted the need for resource mobilization and establishment of sustainable higher education partnerships.

The event was chaired by Chairman, Pakistan Engineering Council, Engr. Najeeb Haroon, who discussed the significance of the HESSA project in establishing linkages with HEIs in the country, building partnerships, and making meaningful contributions through higher education stakeholders.

Commenting on HESSA, the rector of NUTECH, Lt. Gen. (Retd) Khalid Asghar said, “The concept of this project excites me because it addresses all four major components of higher education namely, leadership, faculty, students, and the research environment. Dr. Azra Yasmin from Fatima Jinnah Women’s University appreciated HESSA for providing a platform for the development of new collaborations with sister universities within Pakistan, as well as those in the US. Other participants said, they were looking forward to the formal launch of HESSA and hoped that the project would complete its mission of strengthening higher education systems in Pakistan.

The Director Research NUST, Dr. Hammodur Rehman, said the two-day activity highlighted three things: that we can improve the standard of teaching in HEIs; that we can take the research structure forward to the industry for better alignment of our policies; and that we need to focus on applied research. He said, NUST has already adopted this interactive model, which is largely based on academia-industry relationship.

The five-year HESSA project, which will be implemented in collaboration with select Pakistani HEIs and other stakeholders, will work towards strengthening the capacities of HEIs with the goal to drive the system towards delivering market-driven education and research for enhancing the employability potential of graduates entering the national and regional labor force. This will be achieved through development of HEIs in areas such as leadership, faculty, students, and allied support structures.