“A group of high-level talents with strict professional and cultural training is critical for the construction of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). China and Pakistan should strengthen cooperation and promote joint degrees to meet the needs of the two countries,” highlighted Prof. Tan Biyou from Hunan Normal University.
On the 2nd South Asia Forum with the theme of “Pakistan in social transition” hosted by China-Pakistan Educational Cultural Institute (CPECI), Prof. Tan said that if engineers at all levels involved in management and operation do not truly understand the people at the bottom of Pakistan and do not know how to interact with them effectively and safely, it will bring great risk to the multibillion-dollar investment and pose a threat to the personal safety of Chinese managers.
In fact, talent is the most scarce resource for the Belt and Road Initiative, including CPEC. Prof. Tan emphasized the need to expand the scope of joint degree programs and cultivate more talents.
He explained that, “A group of high-level talents proficient in Chinese and Pakistani culture, including masters and doctors, in the joint degree program jointly engaged by Chinese and Pakistani universities is a must.”
CPEC is a new development in the history of China-Pakistan exchanges. It not only promotes economic cooperation, but also brings about broad cooperation in education and culture. In this context, the joint degree was put on the agenda.
China-Pakistan cooperation in education has gone through a long period of exploration and has been continuous since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Pakistan in 1951.
Nevertheless, due to the different national conditions of the two countries, in the long historical period, China-Pakistan friendship is mainly limited to political and military cooperation, and the development of educational cooperation is relatively slow.
Since about 2003, the number of Pakistani students studying in China has been increasing. However, further collaboration between universities is generally limited.
In 2005, when China and Pakistan exchanged the Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation, education was listed as a separate section for the first time.
The Confucius Institutes, which were widely established in Pakistan, were an important result of the treaty. The Confucius Institutes mainly carry out language teaching, not degree education.
In the Joint Statement on Strengthening China-Pakistan All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership, Building Closer China-Pakistan Community of Shared Future in the New Era issued in 2018, China and Pakistan agreed to encourage respective universities to develop bilateral linkages including through joint degree and exchange programmes.
On March 2022, China and Pakistan signed an agreement on mutual recognition of higher education certificates and degrees, providing study guarantee for international students from both countries and dispelling their concerns.
In terms of the future development direction of the joint degree, Prof. Tan believes that it is necessary to reinforce the confidence of the cooperation.
“We should decentralize the cooperation projects, minimize the number of projects, tilt the cooperation center toward the universities in Islamabad, and establish a regional center of appropriate size.” Prof. Tan concluded.