ISLAMABAD: The French embassy strongly supports academic cooperation between Pakistani universities and their counterparts in France and Europe, French Ambassador Nicolas Galey said on Wednesday.

The embassy celebrated academic cooperation between four Pakistani universities and four higher education institutions in France, United Kingdom, Spain and Italy.

“Such a project deserves to be celebrated. The B-International project will reinforce the Pakistan’s HEC Vision 2025, on internationalisation through building capacity within the higher education sector, enhancing international collaboration and supporting the development of global mindsets of the youth,” Mr Galey said.

He was delighted to host the representatives of these eight universities, along with the ambassadors of UK, Italy and Spain, and representatives from the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and the European delegation at his residence.

B-International is a collaborative capacity building project for promotion of higher education between Pakistan, UK, France, Italy and Spain, and was co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union.

The project brings together four prestigious universities in Pakistan including Comsats Islamabad, Lahore University of Management Sciences (Lums), National University of Sciences and Technology (Nust) and Pakistan Institute of Fashion and Design (PIFD), and four top-notch European universities including Cardiff Metropolitan University (UK), Ecole Centrale de Nantes in France, University of Bologna in Italy and University of Salamanca, Spain.

“Colleagues from the eight universities across Europe and Pakistan have worked passionately and tirelessly for the last two and a half years adapting to work plans and delivering to achieve endless success in the name of internationalisation and B-International,” Mr Galey told his guests.

He said that this international visit to Islamabad marked the very first time that the B-International consortium members from both Europe and Pakistan had met in person.

“It is a key milestone in the projects. Colleagues from Europe will have the first opportunity to deepen their understanding of Pakistan. This trip is also the start of many visits to all partner nations in EU across the remainder of the project. Connecting in person, peer to peer, faculty to faculty, institution to institution, will bolster the collaborative and capacity building efforts and ensure sustainable impact of the B-International project and the connections regarding higher education between Pakistan, UK, France, Italy and Spain,” he added.

Head of Global Outreach and Operations (Cardiff Metropolitan University) Anna Dukes said, “This project really is worthy of celebration. This visit marks a milestone. It is a chance to strengthen our collaboration that enables EU partners to deepen our understanding of the four institutions in Pakistan.”

Sabine Vermillard, scientific and higher education attaché (Embassy of France) said that the project was crucial for Pakistan in the internationalisation of its universities.

“This project is unique. It is the only one focusing in Pakistan, helping the four universities acquire more awareness and skills into international development,” she added.

Wasey Khan from Nust said that the project allowed EU partners to put in effort towards build capacity of Pakistani higher education institutions at the grass root level.

Caroline Kerello, who is European project manager at Department of Centrale Nantes (France) said the programme helped the four universities find the right keys to put in place the internationalisation process in Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2022

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