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A Report on the Conference on Higher Education in Developing Countries with a Focus on Muslim Contexts
Sameen Ahmad Khan


Aga Khan University’s Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU–ISMC) hosted a two-day Conference on Higher Education in Developing Countries: With a Focus on Muslim Contexts, during, 24–25 February 2005 at the Congress Centre in London, UK. The conference brought together, students, educators, scholars and decision-makers from around the world.  It created an intellectual platform for an assessment of present educational programmes and the future of higher education in developing countries, and more specifically within Muslim contexts.  It is to be noted the conference had a very informative website, not only in English, but also in Arabic, Persian and Urdu (

The conference focused on the following main themes:

(i) vision, purpose and aims of higher education in developing countries;

(ii) reforms and innovation in higher education–success and lessons learned.


The following were the sub-themes of the conference:

(a) Academic Issues: Teaching and Learning;

(b) Academic Issues: Research;

(c) Governance and Management;

(d) Human and Material Resources;

(e) Higher Education, the Global Context and Developing Countries; and

(f) Quality Assurance.


The conference had keynote addresses and closing remarks by internationally known experts, with several concurrent sessions, on each day.  There were many interesting presentations from specific case studies to innovative proposals. The conference was very well-organized and the platform it has successfully created is sure to influence the future course of actions. The excellent presentations will be available in the form of proceedings in the next few months.  We need more of such conferences to address the urgent issues surrounding education in Muslim countries.

Established in 1983, Aga Khan University is a private international university, with teaching and research programmes in Pakistan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Afghanistan, Syria and UK.  In 2002, the university established the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilizations in London.  The goal of the institute is to strengthen research and teaching on the heritage of Muslim societies in all its historic diversity.  The institute seeks to create opportunities for interaction among academics, traditionally trained scholars and other professionals so as to deepen understanding of pressing issues affecting Muslim societies (

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