Dr Rukhsana Zuberi, Associate Dean and Professor, Department for Education Development, AKU, receiving the award
In a moment of pride for Pakistan and its academic community, the Aga Khan University’s Medical College received two ASPIRE awards – for international excellence in education in a medical school – from the Association for Medical Education in Europe in Prague, Czech Republic, standing out as an eminent leader in medical education among global universities.
The awards were given to recognize the high standards AKU has demonstrated in the areas of student engagement and student assessment over the years while producing graduates of international caliber.
A total of eleven awards were given to medical colleges with the Southern Illinois University and AKU bagging five of them. Only two colleges were presented the Excellence in Student Assessment award: SIU and AKU. In addition, AKU was one of the six colleges receiving the Excellence in Student Engagement award.
Other medical institutes participating in the competition were based in Canada, South America, Europe, Australia, South Africa, Asia, the United Kingdom and United States of America.
AMEE, a worldwide organisation with members in 90 countries on five continents, initiated the ASPIRE excellence awards to improve educational performance. The reason for these awards is that in the past decade, university rankings have concentrated on research and paid lip service to education. This bias in the information base of existing excellence rankings towards research outcomes can detract from efforts to improve educational performance.
International boards of distinguished authorities in medical education, working with three ASPIRE panels, sought to recognise excellence in three areas: student assessment in a medical school, student engagement and social accountability.
“Excellence may be found in institutions with limited access to resources just as much as in wealthier institutions. The way in which institutions demonstrate cost effectiveness and context appropriateness will be taken into account by the panel when reviewing individual submissions,” said the organizing team at AMEE.
“AKU has established itself in the international arena of medical education,” said Dr Rukhsana Zuberi, Associate Dean, Education, FHS, and Chair, Department for Education Development, accepting the award on behalf of AKU. “Members of both panels said that ‘excellence’ standards had to be really high and they set them so.”
According to Dr Jamsheer Talati, Professor Emeritus, “It is very gratifying to receive recognition of international excellence in medical education and assessment that the Aga Khan University Medical College has espoused from its planning in 1980.”
“Whilst predictions were not possible, it is now clear, that in no small measure the institution’s future was set by an astute and experienced first Dean, Chevas Smythe, who had the knack of selecting faculty and shaping student selection; the uninterrupted and continuing wisdom of a fountain head of intellect — Camer Vellani; and an institutional ethos that promoted quality, accountability and, importantly, recognition of talent and achievement,” he added.
Commenting on the international recognition, Dr Farhat Abbas, Dean Medical College, said: “We must not also forget that a lot of what we reap today was set in place years back by the previous Deans, Associate Deans and other distinguished leaders and faculty of the Medical College. I would like to recognise and thank the faculty and staff for their outstanding contributions in ensuring that the programmes continue to be of the highest academic quality and rigor in the last 30 years.”
Dr Camer Vellani, former Rector of the University, concluded: “Meaningful education is and has always been a critical process of intellectual development for disciplined thought, a complex higher order function of education than “imparting knowledge”, which is a euphemism for passivity.”