ISLAMABAD       -   Higher Education Commission (HEC) has said that the number of Pakistani students selected for the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree (EMJMD) scholarship to study in Europe has gone up almost three fold during the last three years.

In a statement issued here yesterday, the HEC said that it has increased from 46 in 2017 to 126 for the academic year 2020-21, including 64 men and 62 women. 

With 126 scholarships out of a global total of 2,542, Pakistan now ranks third in the world, having moved up one slot from its fourth position in 2019. A major reason is the awareness campaign launched jointly by the HEC and the EU mission in Pakistan.

HEC organised the send-off ceremony for the selected candidates at its Secretariat in Islamabad. Chairman HEC Tariq Banuri, Ambassador of the European Union Androulla Kaminara, and Director General (HRD) HEC Aayesha Ikram were present on the occasion along with representatives of different EU countries. A large number of alumni and students attended the event as well as through Zoom web-conferencing facility.

The selected students will pursue their studies in 18 leading European countries. 

The Erasmus Mundus programme aims to promote academic and cultural understanding between the European countries and partner countries. It supports the development of human resources, facilitates international mobility and cooperation, and helps build capacity of higher education institutions across the world.

The EMJMD programmes encompasses a range of subjects of interest to Pakistan, including the circular economy, microwave electronics and optics, international humanitarian action, vaccinology, children’s literature, media and culture, and groundwater and global change, to name a few. The Erasmus scholarships are an addition to the scholarships provided directly by the HEC to Pakistani students for study in the leading universities of the world.

Addressing the ceremony, HEC Chairman Tariq Banuri advised the students that the purpose of their education should be to lift themselves, give substance to life, and learn professional practices.

He said that universities give students an exposure to exemplary people from whom they can understand how to give meaning to their lives. He emphasized that they will be ambassadors of Pakistan in the host countries so they should give the world the real understanding of Pakistan.

The Chairman said the Erasmus Mundus is a great opportunity for Pakistani students, hoping that EU-HEC collaboration will further strengthen in the coming days. He appreciated the gender balance ensured in the provision of this opportunity to both male and female students.

Congratulating the students, Ambassador Kaminara informed the audience that a total of 2040 male and 879 female students had applied for the scholarships. She said the number of female students securing the scholarships is admirable. “Go out of your comfort zone, realize your potential, and exploit this opportunity to the fullest,” the ambassador said.