British High Commission hosted a reception in Lahore on 1st September in collaboration with the British Council and Punjab government in which the British High Commission announced a scholarship for 75 Pakistani students to study in the UK in order to mark the 75 years of Pakistan and UK relationships. On the same day, the UK government also pledged to donate £16.5 Million to the flood relief funds following the catastrophic flood that has cost Pakistani people their lives and homes.
Along with the Chief Guests UK Representative Alex Ballinger and Minister for School Education, Punjab, Dr. Murad Raas, other important guests also joined the event including British alumni, Chevening, Commonwealth and GREAT scholars, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) officials and dignitaries from across Pakistan.
The UK High Commissioner Alex Ballinger announced that the UK government will award 63 Chevening scholarships and fellowships along with 12 GREAT scholarships this year. The commission will aim for gender parity, with at least 50% of the scholarships being awarded to female candidates. The application window for Chevening’s one-year master’s scholarship is open until November 1, 2022. The British High Commission claims that they will continue to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of UK-Pakistan relations with a series of events and activities throughout the rest of the year.
The UK High Commission explicitly announced that the scholarships would be equally distributed among the genders independent of merit and said that they want to avoid gender biases and that 50% of the seats would be given to females. Although this rule would obviously detriment females as if it weren’t for this rule most of the scholarships would automatically go to females as there are more academically smart women in Pakistan than men but with this rule, women would get only 50% of the scholarships.
Coincidently or consciously, the UK government on the same day announced the funds for the flood relief. Alex Ballinger also acknowledged the significant contribution of Chevening I in the flood relief efforts, from carrying out fundraising to the distribution of essential items. While addressing the audience he also said that:
“We are with the people of Pakistan at this terrible time. We have all witnessed the devastating impact of these floods which have displaced millions of people and left much of Pakistan submerged. I’m pleased that on the same day the UK has pledged a total of £16.5m in flood relief funding, we can also announce 75 new UK scholarships which will play a vital part in allowing Pakistan to rebuild by investing in its people.”