OXFORD: On the celebration of Pakistan’s 76th Independence Day, the Oxford Pakistan Programme (OPP) announced its graduate scholarship awards for 2023-24.
The OPP was founded three years ago by Pakistani academics and alumni of Oxford University, seeking to generate academic opportunities for talented Pakistani-origin students and to promote closer academic engagement between Oxford and Pakistan.
In its second year of scholarship awards, the OPP is supporting 11 exceptional scholars from a broad spectrum of academic domains, with subjects including Mathematics, Education, Development Studies, Climate Change, Music, Chemical Biology, Clinical Epidemiology and Medical Statistics and Computer Science. Through the combined financial support of the OPP and its partners (detailed below), the OPP’s scholars will receive in excess of £450,000 of scholarship funding this year.
The 2023-24 class of OPP scholars includes Mr Jabir Ali, the son of a humble farmer from the village of Kundal Khokhran in southern Jhang, Punjab. He received his matriculation and intermediate (FSc Pre-Medical) from Government Higher Secondary School Garh Maharaja, and Layyah College of Science Layyah, respectively. Later, he went to the University of Agriculture in Faisalabad for his Bachelor of Science (Hons.) and Master of Philosophy degrees in Microbiology. He will be studying for a doctorate on antimicrobial resistance as the OPP’s Oxford Tareen Scholar.
Another scholarship awardee this year, Ms Wajeeha Amir, is a high-achiever from LUMS, where she graduated with honours in Political Science and Public Policy on a full scholarship. She has consistently remained on the LUMS honour list. She will be studying for a MSc in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation as the OPP’s Malala Yousafzai Scholar.
The OPP also made two scholarship awards this year in collaboration with the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford for the Master of Public Policy programme. The first recipient of this joint graduate scholarship award is Ms Amna Baig, who hails from Gilgit Baltistan. Amna is a career law enforcement officer with the Police Service of Pakistan and has studied at public sector institutions throughout her academic career. Her initial schooling was in Dera Ghazi Khan, South Punjab and at Federal Government College in Rawalpindi. Another awardee is Abrahim Shah, an early career civil servant who stood third across the country in Pakistan Administrative Service’s competitive civil service exam in 2018. Prior to joining the civil service, he pursued a double major in Economics and History from Cornell University. Abrahim has, as a civil servant, worked in some of Pakistan’s most remote and disadvantaged areas including Khuzdar and Quetta in Balochistan, and Skardu in Gilgit Baltistan.
Class Honours in Mechanical Engineering from University College London and a Master’s degree in Applied Mathematics from Columbia University. At Columbia, he conducted research on partial differential equations arising in condensed-matter systems under the supervision of Professor Michael Weinstein and Dr. Amir Sagiv.
The OPP also made several partial awards, which together with other funding bodies, will enable another four scholars to study at Oxford. Mr Ahmed Salman, co-supported by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan, will conduct doctoral research on cybersecurity. He has worked in the public sector in Pakistan for several years in the field of communications and cybersecurity and as a communications specialist, participated in two disaster relief operations in Gilgit Baltistan.
Rabia Ali Khan, a British Pakistani, is a public health professional and an Associate Director in the Oncology Outcomes Research team at AstraZeneca. She will pursue her doctoral research in Clinical Epidemiology and Medical Statistics.
Mr Ahsan Mashhood will read for a MSc in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation. Ahsan graduated from LUMS in 2022 with high distinction in Economics. He maintained the Chaudhry Nazar Muhammad Scholarship for Economics (100%) during his undergraduate years for consistently scoring in the top 1% of his class. Being raised by a single mother in Karachi, Ahsan has actively engaged at the Research Lab at the Legal Aid Society, Karachi.
The OPP will also be supporting two continuing scholars from its inaugural class; Usama Salamat (MSc in Development Studies) and Ajmal Mughal (DPhil in Music).
The OPP’s graduate scholarship awards have been made possible through the generous contribution of several individual and institutional donors who are listed on the OPP’s website (www.oxpakprogramme.org). The OPP operates on a model of solidarity where a series of individual donations are leveraged to deliver high-impact initiatives. The OPP partnered with several institutions to support its scholarships this year, including: the Malala Fund, Lady Margaret Hall, Kellogg College, Linacre College, Blavatnik School of Government, the Commonwealth Scholarship Programme and the High Commission of Pakistan.
While announcing the awards, the OPP’s co-founders, Professor Adeel Malik, Dr Talha Jamal Pirzada and Mr Haroon Zaman, thanked the myriad supporters of the OPP’s graduate scholarship programme who, through their generous donations, have afforded a life-changing opportunity to talented young Pakistani origin students. The OPP seeks to support individuals who can act as catalysts for positive change, set new standards in ethical leadership, and contribute meaningfully to Pakistan’s development. Commenting on the significance of the scheme, the OPP’s co-founders highlighted the need to support the aspirations of Pakistani youth who feel growingly marginalized due to a lack of opportunities and coherent long-term policies in Pakistan. They also emphasised the importance of investing in the aspirations of the British Pakistani community, which remains underrepresented and socioeconomically deprived. The OPP is now the largest privately funded scholarship programme for Pakistani origin students in the world.