ISLAMABAD: A delegation of French Senators visited Higher Education Commission (HEC) Secretariat. Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman HEC, accompanied by other senior management, welcomed the delegation. The delegation, led by Ambassador of France to Pakistan Martine Dorance, comprised Pascal Allizard, Francoise Cartron, Patricia Morhet-Richaud, and Pierre-Michel Vaunthelin.
Briefing the visitors, the Chairman said that Pakistan has a large population of which a big percentage comprise youth which is a great asset for the nation. He also informed the delegation about the role and responsibilities of HEC.
Appreciating the French Government, people and higher education institutions for their academic collaboration with Pakistan in the shape of doctoral and post-doctoral opportunities, he said that France is providing a number of opportunities to Pakistani scholars and students. “France is one of the prime countries where Pakistani scholars are sent for PhD,” he added.
The Chairman said that Pakistan and France have agreements for collaboration in higher education sector, adding that the French Embassy has been helping HEC in Need-based Scholarship Programme. He said Pakistan has 178 public and private sector universities, but a lot needs to be done to further improve quality of education for country’s youth.
Referring to the plan of setting up a French university in Pakistan, he said the two sides have agreed to initiate work on it. He expressed a desire to develop university level collaboration between the two countries alongside exchange of students and faculty under joint programmes. “France has remarkable achievement in industrial growth and HEC would like to launch industrial-based research projects with France so that Pakistan could also efficiently cope with its industrial challenges,” Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed stressed.
Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed informed the delegation that HEC has established three Centres of Advanced Studies in energy, food security and water, while it is planning to set up the fourth centre on climate change. He said the two countries collaborate in various fields including agriculture and Social Sciences, however they also need to consider mutual endeavours in S&T. “We need to have a signature project and to devise a technology transfer mechanism for stronger ties,” the Chairman emphasized.
The French delegates said that the purpose of their visit was to discuss issues related to bilateral cooperation in higher education. They said it is good sign that Pakistan and France have a strong basis of collaboration which can be further expanded. Appreciating Pakistani students studying in France, they said that those students were recently invited to visit the French Senate. They also met many Pakistanis in various fields and gained a useful understanding of the country.
They said the French Senate has a Pak-French Friendship Group which remains active to find new areas of bilateral relations. “When we discussed the relations between the two countries, the topic of education occupied first place,” a Senator said. The Senators informed the gathering of an upcoming exhibition in France, in which a group of Pakistani students will showcase Pakistan at the event.