Ahsan terms VCs real corps commanders (The Nation (Pakistan))

The 3rd ViceChancellors Forum of Islamic Countries began here on Monday, aiming to provide a platform to academics and researchers in the Islamic world to develop collaborative links, strengthen cooperation and encourage dialogue among representative institutions.
Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal was the chief guest in the inaugural ceremony.
The forum is being jointly organised by the HEC, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT), Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training, Islamic Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation, Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training, and Federation of Universities of Islamic World.
The forum is being attended by over 200 vicechancellors, rectors and presidents of universities and higher education institutions of the Islamic world.
The objectives set forth for the Forum entitled “Vice Chancellors Forum 2014: Universities in the Islamic World: Facing Global Challenges” include providing a platform to the university heads in the OIC member states in forging linkages for initiating joint academic programmes, promoting research, pooling resources, offering scholarships, promoting exchange of students, establishing centres of excellence and so forth.
The themes proposed for the panel discussions include: fostering links with community; sustainable higher education systems; sharing of knowledge and fostering collaboration; higher education, innovation and entrepreneurship; international landscape: role of university leadership; higher education: new visions for future; role of higher education in economic revitalisation; mapping international research collaboration future trends; equality of access and role of women in higher education and in society; and partnering with industry.
The countries whose university heads are attending the forum include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kyrgyz Republic, Libya, Malaysia, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Yemen, Gambia, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Ivory Coast, and a few other Muslim Countries.
Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, the minister appreciated HEC and COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT) for organising the event, and hoped that the participants of the forum will come up with tangible solutions facing universities in the Islamic World.
He said that vice chancellors are the real corps commanders in any country, as future battles will not be fought in battlegrounds and that the brainpower will supersede the muscle power.
He underlined the significance of multidisciplinary knowledge and urged vice chancellors of Islamic countries to deliberate how the institutions of higher learning can embrace this challenge.
The minister further said that innovation and creativity define limits of success and the universities are the places which nurture innovation and creativity.
He also stressed the need for outreaching communities and strengthening universityindustry linkages.
He said that digital revolution has engulfed every field of life and education is no exception; therefore, higher education institutions need to equip themselves with the latest advancements.
Chairman HEC Dr Mukhtar Ahmad said that education alone is the solution to problems the Muslim countries are facing.
He also stressed the need to work in collaboration rather than isolation.
He said that this platform provides an opportunity to share success stories with one another and take joint initiatives for development of universities, adding that there is no dearth of potential in the Islamic countries, the only thing needed is right proper environment and facilitation to the academics and researchers.
Dr Aminah Obaid Ramadha Al Hijri, Deputy DG Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, said that this is a wonderful opportunity for university heads of the Islamic world to discuss joint initiatives for promotion of research as well as steps to encourage research linkages between different institutions.
She emphasised that developing human resource was of utmost importance for the Islamic world.
Muhammad Naeem Khan, Assistant Secretary General OIC, said that the higher education is the key driver for socioeconomic change in any country.
He urged the vice chancellors to forge linkages and pool resources for development of universities in the Islamic countries.
He also shared different OIC initiatives for promotion of higher education in the Muslim countries.
Dr SM Junaid Zaidi, rector CIIT, presented vote of thanks on the occasion.