USAID holds summit to strengthen student services at Pak varsities

ISLAMABAD   -  The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through its Higher Education System Strengthening Activity (HESSA) hosted a summit honouring student support services. This year’s summit was attended by over 90 officials and faculty from 16 partner universities from across Pakistan.

The opening session of the fourday annual event was chaired by Ms Anne Flaker, Director of Education for USAID/Pakistan alongside Dr Ayesha Razzaque, Acting Chief of Party HESSA. Dr Randy McCrillis, Dean of Students at University of Utah and Ms Gwendolyn Schaefer from the Institute of International Education, US allowed participants to discuss and develop strategies to strengthen the structure and mechanisms for student support services in their respective higher education institutions. This annual summit honours the continued partnership between the governments of the United States and Pakistan and the collaboration to improve access to quality higher education for all Pakistanis.

Speaking at the event, Dr Razzaque emphasised the importance of diversity and the need to reshape student experience on campuses. “We should learn from each other as an active and engaged community of practice to elevate the status and influence of student affairs professionals within the institutions and the broader higher education community,” she added.

USAID/Pakistan’s Director of Education, Anne Flaker echoed a similar sentiment in her remarks: “Our combined contributions under the Higher Education Systems Strengthening Activity can broaden student horizons, cultivate holistic mindsets, develop soft skills that foster youth development, and inspire youth to innovate and transform the socio-economic landscape of Pakistan.”

International experts from the University of Utah and the Institute of International Education conducted training and facilitated the discussions during the annual event. They helped participants review and update their strategic plans and initiatives for the next year.

HESSA is implemented by the University of Utah and supports the Higher Education Commission and 16 partner universities across Pakistan to improve institutional capacity to drive market-led education and research in Pakistan.

The summit covered six thematic areas vital to the support of higher education institutions in Pakistan: financial aid, student leadership and programming, student microenterprise development, career readiness, alumni development and engagement, and mental health.

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