HEC Scholarships- Capitalizing nation’s real resource

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Human capital has always been the best-ever resource for any country to glitter on international horizons by taking strides in different arena of life and taking nation to new heights of progress and self-sufficiency.

For this purpose, the educated youth is inevitable and every nation diligently focuses this area by creating more opportunities for its students within the country and at the best universities across the globe.

Higher Education Commission (HEC) has performed valuably in recent years in offering various international scholarship schemes to make education accessible for students, particularly those from far-flung and less privileged areas.

“Over 40% of the government’s total investment in higher education sector has been on human resource development and we have maintained the most transparent and cautious approach for selection of students” said Chairman Higher Education Commission Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad.

“Our students are very talented and under Erasmus Mundus scholarship program, which is very competitive, this year the highest number of students securing these scholarships are from Pakistan,” Dr Mukhtar said.

“We have allocated funds for need-based scholarships in recurring budget for universities so no brilliant student who falls within the merit, has to discontinue studies due to financial constraints,” he added. “Owing to our initiatives, Pakistan won the greatest number of Erasmus+ Scholarships with India remaining second.”

Dr. Mukhtar appreciated USAID for providing Master’s scholarships to 700 female students to study in different disciplines in top 30 partner institutions of Pakistan and “we are endeavoring to secure more slots.”

The USAID has been supporting scholarships for meritorious but financially disadvantaged students for the last 18 years to assist Pakistan Government in efforts to enhance students’ enrolment, especially female students from less developed districts to study in engineering, business, social sciences, agriculture and medicine disciplines.

“With the investment of $33.2 million, over 6000 need-based scholarships have been awarded making it one of the largest USAID funded scholarship program of Pakistan,” the HEC Chairman said. “Under this program, 60% scholarships have been awarded to female students”.

Amidst challenge of keeping up with international education standards, the HEC has a gigantic task ahead to secure more scholarships for Pakistani students enabling them to pursue higher studies at the best universities of the world.

“We are also endeavoring for more scholarships for Pakistani students at the University of Oxford,” Dr Mukhtar said as he mentioned to facilitating institution-to-institution collaboration in academic and research areas with currently 22 Pakistani students availing scholarships for higher studies at Oxford University. Pakistan-UK Education Gateway can prove to be another potential way forward for students amidst some practical measures like sponsorship for mobility of students and scholars. The HEC has also signed a Document of Understanding (DoU) with the Edith Cowan University (ECU), Australia to jointly work under a collaborative arrangement on various academic and research areas. Under the agreement, ECU will admit up to 15 HEC’s PhD scholars – who meet the HEC scholarship criteria and the normal selection criteria for entry to an ECU PhD course including academic and English language entry requirements as indicated on the ECU website – per year for five years, starting in 2023.

Major research areas covered under the agreement include Engineering; Arts and Humanities; Education; Medical and Health Sciences; Science; Nursing and Midwifery and Business and Law.

“Australia is keen in increasing number of Pakistani students and scholars. Around 100,000 Pakistanis are currently residing in Australia to pursue their higher education and are extended all necessary support,” Dr Mukhtar said.

According to HEC Scholarships Department, during 2023 total 508 scholars are preceding foreign countries on scholarships under HEC’s foreign scholarships schemes. They are from different level of Higher education including 246 PhD, 116 MS/BS, 102 IRSIP (6 Months) and 44 Post Doctorate.

Currently, a total number of 2,812 scholars are studying at foreign universities under various scholarship schemes including 1760 students enrolled in PhD, 857 in MS/BS,130 in IRSIP (6 Months) and 65 in Post Doctorate. Most of foreign scholarships are offered in seven disciplines including Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences, Arts and Humanities, Biological and Medical Sciences, Business Education, Engineering and Technology and Physical and Social Sciences. “On directives of the present government, the HEC has taken numerous steps to increase number of foreign scholarships for Pakistani students,” said a senior official at HEC. “These initiatives include 75th National Top Talent Scholarship Program aimed at increasing the number of Pakistani scholars in World’s Top 20 Universities. The government of Hungary has also increased number of scholarships for Pakistani students.”

The HEC offers international scholarship at various educational levels as per selection criteria spelled out in relevant PC-I of schemes, available on HEC website www.hec.gov.pk. The Commission also offers international scholarships through various scholarship projects and programs including Overseas Scholarships Phase-III, HRDI – UESTP Overseas Scholarships, US-Pakistan Knowledge Corridor, HEC-USAID Fulbright Scholarship Program Phase-III, Post-Doc Fellowship Program Phase-III and Academic and Research Linkages with different countries and agencies under Bilateral Agreements. The scholarships are also being offered to Nationals of OIC, Commonwealth, SIDS and Hungary to Study at Different Pakistani Universities. (APP)