Internationalising Higher Education

UK universities occupy three of the top ten spots, seven of the top 50 and eleven of the top 100. UK higher education institutions are connected to industry and business, and play a critical role in transferring knowledge.

So far, more than 76 UK universities have formal partnerships or long-term agreements with Pakistani higher education institutions. 98 percent of all Pakistani vice-chancellors and rectors have received leadership training in the UK since 2010, which has allowed them to form relationships with the UK.

New partnerships and collaborative programmes between universities in the UK and Pakistan are a direct outcome of the training programme every year. Last year alone, 14 new transnational education partnerships were agreed. A new set of partnership agreements is underway with the University of Leicester, which is celebrating a leap by 35 places in the ranking table, the highest among the top 200 institutions. 

Some of our programmes in higher education include:

International Strategic Partnerships in Research & Education (INSPIRE)

INSPIRE was introduced in 2008 and concluded in 2013. It aimed to significantly strengthen the academic and research partnerships between UK and a selection of countries in South Asia, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Kazakhstan. It now operates in regional flagship partnerships. 

Programmes under INSPIRE:

  • Institution-to-Institution Strategic Partnerships 
  • Transnational Education Programmes (TNE)
  •  Leadership Programme
  • Talented Researchers Exchange Programme

Click here to read more.

Transforming English Language Skills (TELS)

A joint project between British Council and Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan was inaugurated in 2012 to improve the English language skills of students and teachers across Pakistan under the Transforming English Language Skills (TELS) programme.


In partnership with HEC and the Open University (UK), British Council has developed modules for teaching and improving English landuage skills. The primary one is the Master Trainer Module (MT) – 20 hour module for Master Trainers, which enables them to teach the following 3 courses:  

  1. English for Academic Purposes (EAP) - 40 hour module for first year undergraduate students, to improve Basic English skills.
  2. English for Employability (EfE) – 20 hour module for final year undergraduate students to improve their English language skills for employability.
  3. Professional Development for Teachers teaching through the Medium of English (PD) – 40 hour module for the professional development of lecturers who use English as the medium of instruction. 

The programme has been implemented in 11 universities in Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Jammu & Kashmir.


To date, more than 500 teachers have completed the Professional Development training course and over 10,000 students have participated in the English for Academic Purposes and English for Employment Modules projects carried out under the TELS programme.


British Council Pakistan is now formalising the widespread distribution of TELS nationwide in collaboration with the Oxford University Press.

Policy Dialogues

Through Global Policy Dialogues, the British Council connects people together to debate the challenges and opportunities facing international higher education. The aim is to explore the shifting expectations, responsibilities and contributions from our network of leading thinkers by encouraging dialogue between governments, business and higher education institutions.  As an outcome of a policy dialogue held in 2010, a massive Knowledge Exchange programme was developed and is currently a regular feature of British Council and HEC collaborative programmes. 

  • Global Education Dialogues: South Asia Series 2014-15

British Council’s Global Education Policy dialogue brings together key stakeholders and influencers so that they can reflect on and debate the challenges and opportunities facing international higher education. The dialogues are designed to shape thought leadership by connecting policy dialogues, which culminate in a global summit at the Going Global Conferences. The aim is to present challenging issues and provoke lively debates to disseminate the argument to a wider audience through digital platforms and forums.

Six events were held under the GED South Asia Series 1 which exhibited good engagement and gained excellent feedback from participants. After the success of Series 1, the following themes have been announced for Series 2:

  • Research Networks and Knowledge Parks – in Lahore from 6th to 7th May 2014 (completed)
  • English, Skills and Employability  – to be held in Dhaka, from 8th to 9th March 2015.
  • Technology in Education – 2 events – One to be held in London October / December 2014 and second one in the South region in May 2015


  • Going Global 

Going Global is an annual conference hosted by the British Council, offering an open forum for global academic leaders to discuss issues facing the international education community. Since its inception in 2004, Going Global has grown from a bi-annual event in the UK to an annual event travelling the globe. Each year, it attracts over 1,000 registered delegates from across the tertiary education sectors and a variety of other industries with perspectives on international education.

The conference consists of a series of sessions based around the year's chosen themes. Sessions take the form of panel debates, multi-presentation sessions and poster presentations. The event also provides an invaluable platform for networking. Several sponsored or private events take place around the conference, which has become a fixture of the global education calendar.

  • Education World Forum

The Education World Forum (EWF) is a ministerial education seminar held annually in LondonUnited Kingdom. Ministers from around the world gather to debate future practice in education focused around certain "themes". The event is attended by ministers and delegate from over 70 countries and attracts more than 300 participants. A total of 6 ministers from the federal and provincial governments of Pakistan attended this last year.

Knowledge Exchange Program

The British Council and the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan have a joint aim to promote the role of universities as not just generators of theoretical research, but as important members of the community that can contribute to development. Knowledge Exchange acts as an essential third mission for universities apart from teaching and research.

The partnership between the British Council and HEC focuses on four areas of activities: 

  • Knowledge Exchange National Strategy Development Support 

As a result of the collaboration between the two institutions, the first ever Knowledge Exchange strategy has been developed for the Higher Education sector of Pakistan.  

  • Developing strategic partnerships for knowledge exchange 

The programme offers mobility grants to senior leaders in universities to work closely with UK partners and develop their strategies for knowledge. To date, 16 grants have been given to universities in Pakistan who worked with their counterparts in the UK. 

  • ORIC staff training 

Offices of Research, Innovation and Commercialization (ORIC) are being set up in universities to facilitate research and transform knowledge into products and services. British Council and HEC are working together to develop the facility for ORIC staff that supports individual HEIs to create their own organizational Knowledge Exchange strategic plans. 

  • HEC Research Links 

A network of UK and Pakistani partner institutions is created to generate successful and credible case studies of knowledge exchange. A total of 16 Exploratory Grants were given to universities in Pakistan to identify university and non-university partners in the UK in 2013/2014. A fresh call for Knowledge Economy Partnerships was launched in collaboration with HEC in UK and Pakistan this year. 

  • Connect - Interact, Inspire, Innovate 

The British Council organized a networking event in late 2011, bringing together members of universities, industry, government and non-governmental organizations called Connect - Interact, Inspire, Innovate. Held in Islamabad, Connect was a vibrant and interactive evening that aimed to create new collaborations and spark new ideas. On average, research publications have increased by 8 points in Pakistan in the past decade. This seminar aimed to promote the realization of the need to connect our remarkable research with local industry and community. 

Knowledge Exchange was also discussed in detail by a panel of experts from the UK, as well as Pakistan, and short videos of related success stories were shown to an audience of around 400. 

The British Council filmed several examples of knowledge exchange in Pakistan to illustrate that it is not just an abstract idea and that members of the academia, industry and general community can also undertake it.

Researchers Links Programme

The British Council Researcher Links initiative utilises shared research interests to provide a forum for early career researchers from the UK and other countries to interact and explore opportunities for building long-lasting research collaborations. This is done under the guidance of established researchers in the UK and partner countries, with the activity selected on the basis of mutual benefit, research quality and potential for sustained interaction. The initiative comprises thematic workshops and travel grants, and will be co-funded by British Council and HEC. It aims to engage other key UK stakeholders to ensure maximum potential for PK-UK benefit and longer term sustainability.

Proposed Activity Plan 

  • Workshops 

There was an open call, in response to which experienced researchers from the UK and Pakistan will be leading workshops in areas that respond to the potential stated above. The activity plan will include holding residential workshops spread over 3-4 days, with approximately 40 participants (of equal proportion from the UK and Pakistan). All research disciplines can be covered, with interdisciplinary themes, social sciences and humanities specifically encouraged.  

  • Travel Grants 

Grants have been announced and details are available here

The grants support:

  • All researchers in UK and Pakistan  including those who have participated in thematic workshops
  • Short research visits (up to 3 months) with the aim of starting up a longer term collaboration
  • Inward or outward mobility, or combination of both

There will be one call per year. A UK steering group, made up of representatives from key funding stakeholders and leading academics, will help define priority areas and selection procedures.


  • PM2 (Prime Minister’s Initiative 2)

Launched in April 2006, the second Prime Minister’s Initiative for International Education (PM2) has been a 5 year strategy to build on the success of the first PM1 to secure UK’s position as a leader in International Education and sustain the managed growth of UK international education delivered both in the UK and overseas.

Partnership-building under Strategic Alliances and Partnerships of the PM2 had taken place at two levels:

  • At the government and policy level to enable education policy makers to engage pro-actively and collaboratively in addressing some of the global education challenges.
  • At the sector and institutional level, building strong strategic alliances which have jointly and creatively addressed these challenges in practice.


  • DelPHE 

The UK Government's Department for International Development (DFID) provides funding for partnerships between Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) that work on collaborative projects linked to developmental goals. British Council Pakistan runs this programme in collaboration with DFID. Partner institutions work on initiatives for skills development, knowledge sharing, problem solving research and other activities that will contribute towards achieving the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  In addition to addressing core areas such as health, education, gender equality, DelPHE also encourages projects aiming to promote science and technology in Africa and Asia. Many research papers, international conferences, exchange visits and workshops have resulted from these partnerships. 

During five rounds of DelPHE, seven successful multilateral partnerships were formed in Pakistan, covering a wide range of topics such as scientific and technological research with a particular focus on local matters, health, education, infrastructure, water, fisheries, agriculture, ICTs and gender issues.

Results for the Knowledge Economy Partnership Pakistan-UK 2014-15 have been announced. They can be viewed here.