The Seventh Meeting of the Committee of Heads of University Grants Commissions / Equivalent Bodies was held under the auspices of the Royal Government f Bhutan and was inaugurated by His Excellency Thakur S. Powdyel, Hon’able Minister of Education of the Royal Government of Bhutan.
The Meeting while taking stock of implementation of decisions taken at the Sixth Meeting of the Committee of Heads of University Grants Commissions / Equivalent Bodies (Dhaka, 18 – 19 July 2010), made a number of recommendations with a view to benchmarking the higher education standards among SAARC Member States. In this regard, the Meeting deliberated on mutual recognition of professional degrees, achieving a goal of a common regional educational standard and quality assurance and accreditation mechanism.
The Meeting, inter alia, deliberated upon ways forward in developing a credit transfer system within SAARC Universities, identifying common research themes as well as developing a web portal to share best practices in higher education and exchange of expertise among the Member States.
The Meeting welcomed the new offers of scholarships made by Bhutan and Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka further shared with the delegations information regarding one hundred (100) scholarships given by the Government of Sri Lanka to foreign students including those from the SAARC region. The scholarships that are offered annually by the Governments of Bangladesh, India and Nepal are expected to continue in 2012 – 2013 as well.
The intention shown by the Sri Lanka to offer Chair and Fellowship positions in the near future was welcomed by the Meeting.
Matters related to Open and Distance Learning (ODL) were also taken into consideration and the Meeting welcomed the offer of Sri Lanka to host a workshop on ‘MOODLE’ to transform web based study materials for the benefit of South Asian students who are undertaking ODL studies.
A number of activities including A Regional Conference on the Status of Higher Education in South Asia (to be hosted by India) and a Debate Contest among University Students (to be hosted by Pakistan) are expected to take place in the year 2012 – 2013.
The Meeting recommended that the SAARC Secretariat explore avenues in building linkages with agencies with which SAARC has MoUs in the area of education / higher education as recommended by the First Meeting of SAARC Ministers of Education / Higher Education (Colombo, 26 March 2009).
The Seventh Meeting of the Committee of Heads of University Grants Commissions / Equivalent Bodies was successfully concluded in Thimphu on 19 – 20 April 2012.