Leicester creates ‘dynamic partnership’ with Allama Iqbal Open University

The University of Leicester has today (Thursday) committed to collaborate with one of the world’s largest universities to deliver a new faculty development programme.

The project, in partnership with Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) in Pakistan, will create opportunities for 45 PhD researchers, 10 Masters students, 30 Post-Doctoral Fellows and a number of senior leaders to join the world-leading research environment at Leicester.

Partnership between the two universities will not only generate significant research outputs for the University of Leicester, but also increase the institution’s profile across Pakistan and the wider region.

AIOU was established in 1974 and has become one of the world’s largest universities, with more than 1.4million students learning remotely and at almost 1,200 study centres across Pakistan.

All three Colleges at Leicester – the College of Life Sciences, the College of Science and Engineering, and the College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities – will offer opportunities as part of the two-year partnership.

The agreement was signed at a virtual ceremony on Thursday by Professor Nishan Canagarajah, President and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Leicester, and Professor Dr Zia Ul-Qayyum, Vice-Chancellor of AIOU, in the presence of guests from both institutions.

Professor Canagarajah said: “The University of Leicester is a truly global University, and so we are very proud to cement our dynamic partnership with Allama Iqbal Open University.

“It is clear that our two universities share a commitment to expanding and enhancing education opportunities for all, and therefore creating a collaboration such as this feels like a natural next step.

“I look forward to welcoming the first beneficiaries of the programme to Leicester, as well as sharing knowledge with AIOU colleagues to the benefit of both institutions.”

Speaking at the signing of the agreement between the two universities, Professor Dr Ul-Qayyum said: “The University of Leicester really believes in developing trans-national partnerships to provide benefits to students across the world. I am really grateful, therefore, to the University of Leicester for agreeing to provide AIOU with generous support to allow our staff to take part in the new Faculty Development Programme.”

Professor Paul Monks, now Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government’s Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), played a key role in developing the new programme in his former role as Head of College for Science and Engineering and attended the virtual signing ceremony.

He said: “To see this agreement signed is the realisation of work built on the shared values of the two universities, both in terms of inclusivity and research priorities.

“We have found much in common and have identified a large number of exciting research and training opportunities that will be facilitated by the new agreement. It will give both staff and students opportunities to explore new global horizons in partnership.

“I look forward to seeing the partnership bear fruit in opportunities for students and researchers as well as the knowledge exchange between Leicester and AIOU.”

This new programme also highlights the universities’ shared commitment to inclusive education. AIOU focuses on enhancing the female literacy ratio in Pakistan so that “women can perform a vital role in the process of national progress and development”, and also provides a number of special initiatives for underprivileged and marginalised segments of society.

The University of Leicester is one of the most diverse universities in the UK, and proudly reflects the vibrant community of Leicester. Our students come from broad range of backgrounds, and more than half of students at Leicester are female. The University hosts a number of projects to build a more inclusive education environment and leads on research to identify how education can be made more accessible to all.

The first beneficiaries of the partnership are due to arrive in Leicester in 2021.