ACC shares insight with college leaders from Pakistan

Leaders from two Pakistan colleges visited Austin Community College in February and March to explore ideas for advancing the community college concept in their country.

Dr. Muhammad Ijaz Butt and Syed Muhammad Baqir Jafary spent two weeks visiting the University of Texas at Austin and ACC, where they met with college administrators, faculty, and staff to discuss topics ranging from college governance and funding, to academic programs and student support. ACC’s International Programs Office organized and hosted their visit, which was sponsored by UT’s South Asia Institute.

Dr. Molly Beth Malcolm and Dr. Richard Rhodes with Dr. Muhammad Ijaz Butt and Syed Muhammad Baqir Jafary.

Butt and Jafary are top administrators, (known as principals), at colleges in Pakistan’s Punjab province. Their institutions are piloting two-year, semester-based degree programs for select occupations.

“The basic spirit is to enrich our youth with a skills education demanded by industry,” Butt said. While Pakistan students can earn university degrees or technical school certificates, the country lacks two-year degree programs focused on skills training.

Butt described clear parallels between the objectives of their colleges and ACC’s, such as incorporating hands-on experiences and internships. He said affordability also was essential.

Butt and Jafary said that unlike Pakistan’s government-run educational institutions, colleges like ACC have the autonomy and flexibility to adapt their programming to the needs of their students and communities. Building the necessary infrastructure of facilities and equipment also is a significant challenge in Pakistan, they said.

In addition to meeting with several college and ACC Foundation administrators, Butt and Jafary visited departments such as Music Business, Performance and Technology, which they said exemplified the type of practical learning they hoped to bring to their students. They also toured the ACCelerator at Highland Campus.

“The ACCelerator is a marvelous thing,” Butt said. “The close interaction with tutors — even weaker students can accelerate their studies.”

Butt and Jafary will share what they learn with government of Punjab’s Higher Education Department.


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