The Pak-UK Education Gateway is British Council’s joint programme with the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC). Launched in 2018, the aim of the programme is to allow the British Council to improve higher education links between Pakistan and the UK in specific areas such as innovative and collaborative research, higher education leadership, quality assurance and standard setting, distance learning, international mobility and transnational education.
The spread of COVID-19 during the early months of 2020 forced all education providers in Pakistan to shift to online means, placing distance learning at the forefront of the Gateway agenda. Currently, the HEC is working on developing a national Open and Distance Learning (ODL) policy for the Pakistani higher education sector which the British Council is supporting through engagement of relevant local and UK expertise.
The higher education institutions (HEIs) that have shifted to distance learning are at various stages of ‘online readiness’ in terms of infrastructure, technology, capacity, experience and content. Although the HEC policy guidance issued to them addresses many quality related aspects, there is still a need for a more comprehensive policy on open and distance learning for Pakistan, covering issues of reach, inclusivity, quality and access.
To this end, British Council and HEC are working together to help develop a practical and workable ODL policy, which aims to reach around 2 million students across Pakistan. Through a series of nationwide consultations, British Council has drafted and submitted a report to the HEC, which will serve as a guide for development of the policy.
This policy itself will provide a quality assurance framework to HEIs looking to offer complete academic programs, or a portion of them, using open and distance learning methods.