South Asia Higher Education Symposium:

New Regional Approaches

Istanbul, Turkey



Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Participant Arrivals & Opening Reception

Wednesday, April 24, 2019


Opening remarks were given by representatives from the U.S. Embassy Kabul and the Hollings Center.  They provided an overview of the conference goals and procedures.

Session 1: The Educational Landscape of South Asian Higher Education

This session provided a general overview of the state of higher education in the South Asian states represented at the meeting.

  • Dr. Mohammad Naim Azimi, Vice Chancellor, Kabul University, Afghanistan
  • Dr. Gauranga Chandra Mohanta, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Education, Bangladesh
  • Ms. Kesang Choden Dorji, Director General, Department of Adult & Higher Education, Ministry of Education, Bhutan
  • Dr. Furqan Qamar, Secretary General, Association of Indian Universities, India
  • Ms. Aishath Shaheen, Deputy Vice Chancellor, The Maldives National University, Maldives
  • Dr. Bal Chandra Luitel, Professor, Kathmandu University School of Education, Nepal
  • Dr. Razia Sultana, Vice Chancellor, Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University, Pakistan
  • Dr. Mohan de Silva, Chairman, University Grants Commission, Sri Lanka

Session 2: Curriculum Development and Reform

With rapid pace changes in technology and national economies, it is important to develop and enhance curricula to meet new challenges and opportunities.  Developing new curriculum and implementing pedagogical standards remains a challenge throughout higher education.  This session aimed to identify best practices in curriculum development, but also highlight some of the roadblocks to curricular reform.

  • Dr. Colla Jean MacDonald, Distinguished University Professor Emeritus, University of Ottawa/University of Malta

Breakout Group Introduction Presentations

  • Dr. K P Jaikiran, Head, NSQF and Curriculum Development Division, Additional Skill Acquisition Programme, Government of Kerala
  • Dr. Farida Nilufar,Dean, Faculty of Architecture and Planning, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET)
  • Dr. Sumaira Yaftali, MD Professor, Kabul University of Medical Science

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Session 3: Quality Assurance and Accreditation

Throughout the region, quality standards can vary significantly, not just with incoming students (through entrance examinations), but also in terms of outcomes.  Long-term, standards of accreditation and quality will need to improve in order to better integrate the region’s educational systems.  This session focused on what countries in the region are already doing, but also what can be done to continue improvement of the overall sector.

  • Dr. Carol Anderson,Vice President, New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Ms. Chita V. Pijano,International Consultant for Accreditation, CHEA International Quality Group Advisory Council, ASEAN QA Network

Breakout Group Introduction Presentations

  • Mr. Kamal Rohitha Uduwawala,Additional Secretary, Non-State Higher Educational Institutes
  • Dr. Shamsad Mortuza, Pro-Vice Chancellor, University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh
  • Dr. Indu Acharya,Professor and Head of Political Science Department, PK Campus, Tribhuvan University

Session 4: External Relations and Engagement

Connecting education to the economy remains a global challenge.  Preparing students for current and future economic opportunities, creating institutions that can serve as hubs for innovation, and improving the relationships between the education and private sectors remain important challenges for all the nations of South Asia.  This session looked at way to build better relationships between universities and external stakeholders by identifying opportunities to collaborate on research and development with the aim of creating mutually beneficial relationships.

  • Mr. Richard Boyum, University Partnerships Coordinator, U.S. Department of State
  • Mr. Arno Meerman, CEO, University Industry Innovation Network (UIIN)

Breakout Group Introduction Presentations

  • Mr. Nadeem Akbar, Country Director, American Institute of Pakistan Studies
  • Dr. Sunil Bhand,Dean, Sponsored Research & Consultancy, BITS Pilani
  • Dr. S.M. Junaid Zaidi, Executive Director, Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (COMSATS)

Friday, April 26, 2019

Cultural Tour of Istanbul

A group tour was organized for symposium participants, which included visits to the historical sites of Istanbul: Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia Museum and the Basilica Cistern.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Session 5: E-Learning and Distance Education

E-learning and distance education could provide for a dramatic increase in accessibility to higher education throughout the region. The growing number of internet accessibility in recent years provides an opportunity in access to higher education, but also to develop new educational methods and tools.  What currently exists as frameworks in this region and what can realistically be achieved?  What types of formats provide best practices?  This session attempted to answer the questions and assess the feasibility of expansion.

  • Mr. Hanny Alshazly,Senior Regional Director, Blackboard Inc.
  • Mr. Gard Titlestad,Director, Nordic Insight

Keynote Address

  • Dr. Mustafa Aydin, Professor of International Relations, Kadir Has University

Concluding Session

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Participant Departures