The main purpose of this conference was to share the views of the Vice Chancellors and academics on internationalisation and development of academic links for the students of their respective countries. Sayed Abidi, a renowned educationist who participated in the conference on behalf of Anglia Ruskin University, described this as an important initiative by a UK University.
He said, not every student can travel abroad or is able to pay the rising cost of tuition fee and living expenses, especially with the devaluation of the Pak Rupee to travel to the UK or any OECD country for higher education. It is high time that the government of Pakistan should seek assistance from the western countries, especially the UK, in bringing home international qualification of repute, he added.
Moreover, a number of British Universities are interested in setting up campuses in South Asia and Middle East in regional hubs such as China, Dubai and Malaysia where, many UK universities have already established their campuses.
He said that a huge number of students, especially those belonging to the lower middle income and working class, are not able to travel abroad due to financial implications and social restrictions, and this would give them an ideal opportunity to get a foreign degree in their home country in turn to enhance their career prospects and to gain international qualifications at home at a far less cost than what is expected when a student travels to other western countries.
He added that not only new visa regimes for students, especially those from South Asia, have halted student mobility, but the unavailability of part time work opportunities and permanent settlement/post study settlement has become an issue in all western countries, including the UK.
The concluding remarks of the participants were that these two days were very informative where they shared information on education in their respective countries and everyone was of the opinion that education is one sector, which does not look at cast, creed and religion and is beyond any political differences, and we all should work hard to further the cause of education, especially in the developing countries, and seek any assistance from the West in bringing advance knowledge, teacher training, research links and new methodologies to improve education prospects in their countries.
The delegates agreed to organise such a conference every year, and hopefully this conference will now become an annual event for future. Media from Pakistan and other South Asian countries covered the conference.