Oxford Pakistan Programme

About Us

Who we are

The Oxford Pakistan Programme (the “OPP”) is the first initiative of its kind through which a concerted effort is being made to generate momentum on various Pakistan-related activities at the University of Oxford.

The OPP has three core objectives:

  • Address the underrepresentation of Pakistani and British Pakistani students at the University of Oxford;
  • Promote academic exchange between Oxford University and Pakistan’s institutions of higher learning.
  • Broadening academic conversations on Pakistan beyond the narrow remits of security and geopolitics

Why is the OPP needed?

The University of Oxford enjoys a historically strong relationship with Pakistan. Six Prime Ministers and two Presidents of Pakistan have studied at Oxford, including Benazir Bhutto, the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan (LMH 1976) and the current Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan. Despite this deep connection, Pakistanis and British Pakistanis remain underrepresented at Oxford, and academic output on Pakistan is very limited.

As a truly global university, Oxford recruits the best students from around the world. A typical graduate degree at Oxford costs £45,000 a year and the concern, evidenced by statistical data, is that financial constraints are preventing Pakistani and British Pakistani students from taking up their offers at Oxford. 20 Pakistani students every year cannot accept offers from Oxford because they cannot afford it. Only around 12 undergraduate and 45 graduate students from Pakistan attended Oxford in 2021, despite over 60% of Pakistan’s 220 million people being under the age of 30. British Pakistanis are the most underrepresented BAME group at the graduate level in Oxford. This loss of intellectual capital is to the detriment of both Pakistan and Oxford.

Similarly, research on Pakistan at Oxford is inadequate. Pakistan is a country with a plethora of unique challenges as well as opportunities. It lies at important historical crossroads, bordering two of the world’s largest economies as well as harbouring growing domestic industry. The OPP aims to provide financial support, as well as academic space, for students and academics at Oxford to discourse and collaborate on diverse research issues pertaining to Pakistan, moving beyond looking at Pakistan from a solely geostrategic lens. The OPP will act as a nodal point and a vehicle for consolidation of, and collaboration on, such activities.

Our Model and Vision

The OPP has been conceived as an embryonic initiative that is built on an unconventional model of fundraising where a series of small donations are joined up to deliver high impact initiatives on a spend-down basis. We believe in the power of small—the idea that small and sincere efforts can unlock big doors. 

In this regard, the OPP is harnessing support of a large consortium of supporters through a series of small donations. Each constituent initiative of the OPP is a bespoke project. Funds raised for the OPP are ring-fenced and held within the University of Oxford to protect their security and integrity. All academic programmes will be delivered under the active oversight of the OPP’s Academic Body.  

The OPP works on a spend-down basis where all funds raised will be disbursed without incurring any extra overhead costs. Support for OPP activities is being secured for the next five years, to create a “proof of concept” that can be institutionalised on a long-term basis after the initial roll-out of five years.

Our vision is inspired by the idea of Tawakkal, trust and hope in the divine order that sincere intentions will be rewarded with future progress. The OPP epitomises the words of 13th century mystic, Jalal-ud-Din Rumi:

You walk on the way and the way appears

And of poet, Farid-ud-din Attar:  

Place your foot in the path and ask not a thing

Let the way itself tell you how to go