Adam Thomson

British High Commissioner to Pakistan

Part of UK in Pakistan

29th November 2010 Islamabad, Pakistan

A Virtual Exhibition

Do you want to study in the UK? The British Council here in Pakistan are running an exciting exhibition until 4 December.  Anyone interested in studying in the UK really ought to visit it.  It showcases the amazing range of courses and the high quality of student experience that British universities can offer international students.  Where is this must-see event happening?  It’s on the web, at People of all ages can visit it anytime, from anywhere.  It’s easy and it’s interactive . You can even ask questions directly to each of the universities in live web chats scheduled over the course of the week.

Here in Pakistan we haven’t tried a virtual exhibition of UK higher education opportunities before.  But it’s proving a huge success.  Far more British universities have been present than at any previous British Council virtual higher education exhibition in the world – 45 universities in all.  That means about 25% of all the United Kingdom’s higher education institutions have turned up to try to attract Pakistani students to come and study in the UK.    Not a bad turn out for the first attempt.  It is far more than would have been able to come for a physical exhibition in Pakistan. It simply reflects the quality of the students we get from Pakistan.  We would like to have more.

So what’s even more encouraging is the number of visitors to the exhibition.  Way more than for an actual physical event, where less than a thousand people would normally attend.  Between the start of the virtual exhibition on 22 November and 26 November (the most recent day for which I have figures) over 9,000 people visited the site and over 1,500 of them registered to participate.  The opportunity to chat direct on line with representatives from all the different UK universities has been a big attraction.  Participants have come in big numbers from Karachi and Lahore.  But they have also come from much more remote parts of Pakistan, from places from which people would not normally be able to travel to a physical exhibition in one of the big cities.

 I just love this kind of achievement.  Pakistan is a big country and we are always trying to find ways to reach more people.  This exhibition is showing that we can reach many, many more people than before by using the internet.  And we can offer them a better product – more universities to meet; readily accessible information; clear times to chat to authoritative university representatives, sitting back in the UK.  And the  good news is that internet access is spreading fast across the country.  I always tell my British Council colleagues that they offer a wonderful service but that they must find ways to do so on a much bigger scale.  For university shows, excitingly, it looks like they have found the answer.