Oxford University recently launched a major new initiative in education and public diplomacy. The Oxford-Pakistan Programme aims to increase and promote Pakistan-related activities at the University. Largely the invention of Oxford professor Adeel Malik, Dr Talha J. Pirzada, lecturer in material sciences, and Haroon Zaman, Oxford University graduate and former president of the Oxford Pakistan Society, the OPP will include various scholarships for graduate students, special lectures on Pakistan, visiting fellowships specifically for Pakistani faculty members, and the addition of a second Rhodes Scholarship for Pakistan.
Several new scholarships were announced at the OPP launch, which took place on 31st September at the Pakistan High Commission in London. Nobel laureate and Oxford graduate Malala Yousafzai announced the creation of a new scholarship allowing one Pakistani girl from an underprivileged background to study at Oxford each year. Mr Ahmed Owais Pirzada also announced the Jamal Scholarship in memory of Dr Ahmed Bilal Shah, a leading Pakistani doctor in Zimbabwe. Dr Tariq Zaman, orthopaedic surgeon and honorary senior lecturer at Imperial College, announced an annual graduate scholarship for Pakistani and British Pakistani students.
The program has already received strong support from prominent figures and organizations across the globe. Both the British High Commission in Islamabad and the High Commission for Pakistan in London pledged their support to the programme, as have many prominent members of the Oxford community. Thus far, the OPP has garnered over £500,000 in pledges for its first phase for the next five years. These funds have come primarily from Pakistani businessmen and important figures in the Pakistani diaspora in the UK.
Several key leaders in British and Pakistani politics praised the OPP for its strengthening the academic link between the UK and Pakistan. The OPP comes on the heels of a similar initiative implemented by Jesus College earlier this year to support year 12 British Bangladeshi and Pakistani students in their application process. The programme at Jesus College and the OPP reveal a growing concern for Pakistani representation at the University and an increased effort to unite the nations through education.
The university is currently in the process of finalizing all components of the Oxford-Pakistan Programme, but it is expected to go live in the coming months with the scholarships becoming active in October 2022.
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