LUMS Vice Chancellor Talks About Teaching and Learning During the Pandemic in an Interview with Local TV Channel

Screenshot of interviewers and Dr. Arshad Ahmad

On March 10, 2021, Dr. Arshad Ahmad, Vice Chancellor LUMS, was invited to the programme, Expresso on Express News, a local TV channel, to discuss the impact COVID-19 has had on educational institutions and how LUMS overcame the challenges of the pandemic. 

The first question Dr. Ahmad answered was about the University’s ‘Learning Without Borders’ (LWB) philosophy. He explained that LWB addresses all kinds of barriers students and faculty may face, “LWB is a philosophy which basically aims to break all sorts of borders, even those within disciplines. Our students can be from anywhere, from any sort of background. We break all social, economic and geographical barriers and enable students to study together.” 

‘Learning Without Borders’ also aligns with the University’s focus on diversity and inclusivity. Dr. Ahmad emphasised how students from far off villages such as Bhawalnagar, Hunza, Taxila, and Swat come to LUMS, making it a rich mix of varying cultures and perspectives. “This diversity turns LUMS into a mini Pakistan. Different people from different corners of the country, speaking different languages come together to learn, study, and teach other.” 

Elaborating on the range of scholarships and financial support that LUMS continues to provide so that no student is left behind, Dr. Arshad stated, “Twenty years ago LUMS initiated a prestigious scholarship programme called the National Outreach Programme (NOP) that aims to provide quality education to intelligent students from far-off areas in Pakistan. To date, LUMS has given over PKR 2.8 billion in support of the Programme, and more than 1,200 students have benefited from it. What most people don’t know is that beyond the NOP, one out of three students at LUMS is given financial support which ranges from 20% to 140% of the total tuition fees.”

Dr. Ahmad then talked about how despite the unprecedented challenges, LUMS remains committed to its vision of making quality education accessible and providing an unparalleled learning experience to its students. He shared how LUMS was able to quickly adapt to the situation once educational institutions were forced to close last year, “I believe forward-thinking is an element that sets us apart from other institutions, especially during the pandemic. Our faculty put in a lot of effort to redesign courses and we upheld our commitment to our scholarship programmes. We held training sessions and created committees to partner with students and make the teaching and learning experience all the more effective, yielding the best results.” 

Discussing the phenomenon of online learning, Dr. Arshad explained that even as things slowly come back to normal, online learning is here to stay, “What we need to understand is that online learning has lot of facets—it is not a standard type of learning. The biggest benefit of online learning is its accessibility. It can be accessed by people anywhere, at any time. With the option of synchronous as well as asynchronous study, students can learn, review, ask questions and discuss at their own pace.” 

Dr. Ahmad was also asked whether LUMS, as a leading university, would play a role in helping other educational institutions build capacity and improve their systems. He explained that in addition to developing leaders through its five schools, LUMS is already building partnerships with institutions and organisations across the country, “LUMS indeed stands out, but there is a dire need for other top institutions in Pakistan. Inter-institutional cooperation is important and necessary, so through the Higher Education Commission, we create interlinkages and collaborate through research.”

To watch the complete interview, click here

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