Women’s Leadership in Higher Education HESSA – Higher Education System Strengthening Activity 2023

The HESSA project aims to enhance the capabilities of leaders in Pakistan's higher education sector. As part of this initiative, two faculty members from our university, Dr. Sehrish Shafi and Dr. Samreen Ayaz, actively participated in a comprehensive Women leadership Program Cohort II, that began in January 2023. This program is divided into four parts: an opening workshop, an exchange visit to the University of Alabama, a six-month online course with weekly assignments, and closing workshop and showcase.

The opening workshop conducted from January 18th to 20th, 2023, covered various aspects, including an overview of the program, individual leadership styles, Leadership Frameworks and Intersectional Identity, Strategic Initiative Structure, and Conceptual Roadmap.

The US Exchange Visit to the University of Alabama, which took place from January 28 to February 11, 2023, involved a comprehensive series of training sessions. It provided valuable opportunities for networking, participation in meetings, and interaction with accomplished leaders in higher education, particularly women leaders. During this visit, participants had the chance to learn about their personal journeys, the challenges they faced in navigating societal expectations, and strategies for coping with challenges in both academic and societal contexts.

The six-month online course, which commenced in April 2023 and featured weekly assignments, incorporated monthly meetings with one mentor from the United States and two mentors from Pakistan. This course played a significant role in refining and developing the strategic initiatives that were identified during the opening workshop.

Dr. Samreen Ayaz’s initiative focuses on facilitating the students in smooth transition from annual system to semester system and better integration in the university environment, fostering a sense of belonging in the students. In line with this, a course is proposed, approved from the board of studies, for implementation in Fall 2023. This course is designed to equip students with the essential skills, knowledge, and resources to excel academically and thrive in their professional endeavors. Through a combination of orientation sessions, skill-building workshops, interactions with successful alumni, and engaging guest speakers, students will gain a holistic understanding of university life, time management, stress management, and practical skills relevant to their future careers.

The MUST English Language Centre (MELC) will be launched in Fall 2023 as a result of HESSA campus initiative project by Dr. Sehrish Shafi at Mirpur University of Science and Technology (MUST), Mirpur Pakistan. MELC will offer a range of tailored programs to students in their first year or final year in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities (FSS&H) to support them to improve their English proficiency levels. MELC will prepare students to have an English language capability that enhances their academic programs and enables them to live, work, study, and research in a foreign language (English) setting. This campus project initiative was taken because of following reasons which were explained by students when asked for the dropout ratio or low performance in their degree programs which are as follows: In FSS&H large number of students belong to underprivileged background or farfetched areas where the lack of opportunities to learn the English language in  schools, less or no language resources are the reasons for the students for not knowing English or being less proficient in English language. This Centre will help students to complete their degrees with good grades and can open different horizons through English language competence which is the international lingua franca to connect the individuals across the globe.

Closing Workshop and showcase of the strategic initiative is scheduled to be held in November 2023.