The British Council in Pakistan and Higher Education Commission (HEC) Pakistan has recently launched a joint programme Pak-UK Education Gateway, which aims to enhance partnership between the higher education sectors of Pakistan and the UK. Key areas of collaboration under this umbrella framework are: innovative and collaborative research, higher education leadership, quality assurance and standard setting, distance learning, international mobility and transnational education.

Pak-UK Education Gateway builds on existing collaborations between the UK and Pakistan that the British Council and Higher Education Commission has facilitated over last fifteen years: from knowledge exchange and leadership development programmes, to student and teacher training, scholarships and research collaborations.

This programme will support the ambitions set by the HEC in Vision 2025, the document charting out targets for the upcoming years: increase gross HE enrolment by 15 per cent, PhD faculty by 40 per cent, the number of universities to 300 and a total enrolment to 7.1 million.

The British Council in collaboration with the HEC has so far facilitated partnerships between 160 Pakistani universities and 65 UK institutions, including 160 research links involving over 1000 researchers from both countries contributing to sustainable development goals and institutional capacity building.

In 2018, British Council and HEC organised six roundtables in London, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Bath, Belfast and Cardiff from January to August, which were very well attended by the UK higher education sector. The delegation from Pakistan interacted with more than 100 UK Higher Education representatives from 40 institutions and UK bodies. The positive response from both sectors demonstrates willingness to develop long term strategic relationships between these two countries.

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Find out more about the Advance HE and NAHE Associate Fellowship for IPFP Fellows.

Pak-UK Education Gateway has six main thematic areas:

Innovative, Impactful and Collaborative Research

Innovative and collaborative research in emerging disciplines of knowledge e.g., medical and allied health sciences, energy generation, distribution and conservation, climate change and water management, artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology big data and cloud computing, social sciences and humanities to name a few. This will include providing technical assistance for the establishment of centres of excellence for critically needed fields of education identified in HEC Vision 2025. 

  • Establish stronger links across the board between UK and Pak, among multiple areas, and between the industry, academia and government for collaborative research programmes
  • Establish a research excellence framework for Pakistan Higher Education Sector and improve the delivery and application of research  knowledge, tools and skills
  • Identify new sources of funding for  joint research programs between Pakistan and UK Universities
  • Engage the industry on board for the application of research and tap into new fields for more innovative research and industry/employer engagement
  • Build and encourage the research culture through various professional development programmes; capability building programmes for academics who choose research and scholarship as a career

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Higher Education Leadership

To improve quality of governance and management through well trained Higher Education Leadership, this will include development of a leadership institute in Pakistan. The new model of the leadership programme will include local training programmes for strategic management and governance of world class universities through mentoring schemes and formal training. These will also include exposure to the UK institutions as well as other stakeholders. 

  • Identify problems that are shared by both the UK and Pakistan sectors and can be addressed together through mutual learning and sharing best practices
  • Create a critical mass for leadership development with the help of technology
  • Re-engage Pakistani Vice Chancellors who have already undergone scholarly exchange visits to cascade leadership training as alumni / mentors for future programmes
  • Expand the areas of collaborations around leadership development between the UK and Pakistan according to the needs and aspirations of their sectors
  • Establish strategic relationships between relevant institutions, apex and professional bodies in the UK and Pakistan for long term strategic partnership for leadership development 
  • Improve women participation in higher education leadership to foster their professional growth prospects in the HE sector. 

New internationally recognised Fellowship programme for Pakistan

Supporting early-career academics and enhancing the quality of teaching in higher education

Pakistan will soon have its first, internationally recognised teaching Fellows, after a new programme was launched to help early-career academics develop their teaching skills. 

Developed by with the Pakistan National Academy of Higher Education (NAHE), the Fellowship programme is for graduates of Pakistan’s existing ‘Interim Placement for Fresh PhD’s (IPFP) programme’.  

The programme is part of the widerPak-UK Education Gateway- a partnership between the British Council in Pakistan and the Pakistan Higher Education Commission - which seeks to deepen relations between the higher education sectors of Pakistan and the UK.


Advance HE Fellowships give academic staff international recognition of their teaching skills and experience, and demonstrate professionalism in learning and teaching in higher education.

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Find out more about the Advance HE and NAHE Associate Fellowship for IPFP Fellows.

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Quality Assurance and Standard Setting

Quality assurance and standard setting through development of Research Excellence Framework and Teaching Excellence Framework for the Pakistani Higher Education Sector as recently developed in the UK. Under this element, both British Council and HEC will work under following thematic areas; 

  • Evaluate curriculum content, linking it to international standards and accreditation bodies in order to determine key focus areas
  • Establish and implement a Teaching Excellence Framework for Pakistani HEIs
  • Increase the length of international research development programs for a desirable duration
  • Identify relevant links between Pakistan and UK accreditation and other professional bodies for long term quality assurance and benchmarking
  • Teacher Education Programme for improving quality of education in affiliated colleges
  • Recognition and awards for best performing teachers and researchers


Distance Learning and New Ways of Delivery of Higher Education

Allama Iqbal Open University in Pakistan has been established in collaboration with Open University UK in 1972. To re-establish that link and improve the provision of technology embedded distance learning within Pakistan. 

  • Develop innovative mechanisms to ensure quality Open and Distance Learning (ODL) 
  • Actively improve the perceptions of ODL in Pakistan and UK
  • Expansion of online and distance learning in Pakistan through ICT and advanced digital tools. 
  • Develop links with ICT / Digital Sectors in both countries for scaling up education through advance digital means.


International Mobility

Improve two way international mobility in HE and Increase number of scholarships on various models of collaboration between UK and Pakistani HEIs. This will include fully covered scholarships, Split PhD programmes bursaries and fee waivers for Pakistani students in the UK and vice – e – versa.

  • Partner with relevant institutions for two way students and faculty exchange programmes, both face to face and online
  • Ensure quality of students and academic quality of programs through mutually developed policy guidelines
  • Assess the impact of existing programmes and suggest future areas of mutual interests
  • Young scientists and talented researchers exchange programmes 


Transnational Education

The interest in transnational education between UK and Pakistani institutions is increasing and in order to address this both the parties are working for the development of international collaboration framework for Pakistan and UK. 

  • Launch and implementation of TNE Policy in Pakistan as well as in UK
  • Promote the TNE policy for Pakistan and UK both.
  • Develop a stronger degree validation process for both countries
  • Strengthen accreditation from both sides 
  • Encourage more collaborative program designs for UK and Pakistan both
  • Strengthen capacity of TNE education providers and review their quality on regular basis for Pakistan and UK both


UK Education Gateway Virtual Conference - Rethinking and reshaping a resilient HE System

A three-day virtual conference on Rethinking and reshaping a resilient higher education system was held from 15 – 17 December 2020 in partnership with the British Council and the Higher Education Commission (HEC). Under the joint programme Pak-UK Education Gateway which was launched in 2018 aiming to enhance partnership between the higher education sectors of Pakistan and the UK. The Pak-UK Education Gateway builds on existing collaborations between the UK and Pakistan that the British Council and Higher Education Commission have facilitated over last fifteen years: from knowledge exchange and leadership development programmes, to student and teacher training, scholarships and research collaborations.

This was the first ever virtual conference that brought together President of Pakistan, Ministers, Senior leaders and academics from both UK and Pakistan to discuss the challenges and opportunities they are facing, the role of leadership in building resilient HE systems, and lessons learnt from the pandemic. With COVID outbreak, the education sector in both countries stopped all F2F activities. Considering these challenges there was an urgent need to have an agreed response to COVID. The British Council Pakistan and HEC teams agreed a response to COVID and the joint flagship programme Pak UK education Gateway discussed the challenges and adjusted it to meet the urgent need and demands posed by the lock down. This includes support to the HE sectors in developing the first open and distance learning (ODL) policy and enabling over 200 HEIs in Pakistan to enhance access to higher education to around 2 million students.

The conference was also an opportunity to announce several new projects and scholarships including eight UK-Pakistan university partnerships that will undertake joint research projects (jointly funded by the British Council and HEC) on a range of areas from climate change to medicine to cultural heritage, 50+ new scholarship opportunities for Pakistanis – especially women – to do postgraduate study in the UK, and a further 200 scholarships for underprivileged girls to study within Pakistan.

Across the three days, a range of senior figures from Pakistan and the UK attended and spoke, including Dr. Arif Alvi - President of Pakistan, Dr. Christian Turner CMG - British High Commissioner to Pakistan, Hon. Mr Shafqat Mahmood - Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Pakistan, Hon. Asad Qaiser, - Speaker National Assembly Pakistan, Dr Tariq Banuri,- Chairperson of the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan, Dr. Shaista Sohail - HEC Executive Director, Dr Fateh Marri - Member Higher Education Commission Pakistan, Ms. Vivien Stern - Director Universities UK International, Ms. Alison Johns – Chief Executive Advance HE UK, Kate Joyce - Global Director for Higher Education and Science British Council, Dr Joanna Newman MBE - Secretary General Associations of Commonwealth Universities UK, Mr. Douglas Blackstock – Chief Executive QAA UK, Mr Amir Ramzan – Country Director British Council Pakistan. The conference was also attended by VCs, university administrative staff, academics, students, and colleagues from education sector bodies from both countries.

The PAK UK Education Gateway programme is beneficial to UK and also led to the development of Pakistan’s first policy on open and distance learning, development of the recently established National Academy of Higher Education with the collaboration of  Advance HE UK and the HEC, the development of quality assurance mechanisms for HE in Pakistan with the support of QAA UK and the development of a handbook on TNE that will support UK and Pakistani universities set up TNE partnerships.

Through MS Teams and the HEC’s livestreaming services, the conference was attended by over 7700 people each day. The hashtag PakUKEducationGateway was trending number 2 in Pakistan with a reach of 2.5 million, 6.6 million impressions, 16 print and digital media mentions. The closing session was aired live on PTV and seen by an estimated 10 Million viewers.