The Oxford Pakistan Programme (OPP) is the first of its kind at the university, with a concerted effort to generate momentum on different Pakistan-related initiatives.
On Thursday, the OPP inaugurated its component projects at Lady Margaret Hall (LMH) at the University of Oxford, where both former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai received their undergraduate degrees.
Around 200 eminent guests attended the event, including Malala, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Moazzam Ahmad Khan, MP Naz Shah, MP Yasmin Qureshi, and businessman Sohaib Abbasi, according to a statement from the program.
Meanwhile, senior academics and administrators from within the University of Oxford were also in attendance — including Professor Christine Gerrard (Principal of LMH), Helen Mountfield QC (Principal of Mansfield College), Dr. Saira Sheikh (Academic Registrar), Dr. Samina Khan (Director of Undergraduate Admissions & Outreach), Dr. Nadia Pollini (Director of Graduate Admissions & Recruitment) and Liesl Elder (Chief Development Officer).
Objective of Oxford Pakistan Program
According to the statement, the OPP has three core objectives:
To address the underrepresentation of Pakistani and British Pakistani students at Oxford
To raise the academic profile of Pakistan and Pakistan-related areas of interest amongst Oxford’s faculty
To promote the global connectivity of Pakistani academic institutions by promoting academic exchange between them and Oxford
Dr. Talha J Pirzada, a co-founder of the OPP, revealed that the program has secured commitments of just under £1million over the next five years to fund various initiatives as part of the OPP, including a scholarship program for graduate students at Oxford of Pakistani origin.
Even though over 60% of Pakistan’s 220 million people are under the age of 30, he explained that over 20 students from Pakistan are unable to take up graduate offers to study at Oxford each year due to a lack of funding, there are only 13 undergraduate and 45 graduate students from Pakistan at the University.
Dr. Pirzada announced that the OPP would offer up to three scholarships in its first round, with the first group of OPP graduate scholars starting their studies at LMH in October 2022, allowing them to benefit from Oxford’s world-class facilities and teaching program, as well as the university’s plethora of other academic opportunities.
He also announced the launch of the OPP’s Visiting Fellow Programmes, including a program developed in partnership with the Malala Fund, the Government of Sindh, and non-profit Durban, to provide opportunities for Pakistani academics to take advantage of Oxford’s research facilities and global academic network.