PP1.05 Collaboration between NUST and University of Oxford: a success story6 March 2013 - 15:45
British Council (BC), UK and Higher Education Commission (HEC), Pakistan launched the INSPIRE program in 2010 and invited joint proposals by faculty members from Pakistani and UK universities. Main theme of the INSPIRE program was to develop a knowledge transfer between faculty members and graduating students of the collaborating universities. National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) is the leading institute of Pakistan and University of Oxford is the most prestigious institute of the world. These two universities joined together for a project titled “Wastewater Reclamation and Reuse at Bench Scale Using Advanced Biological Treatment Technologies” approved for funding by INSPIRE program in March 2011 for three years. Dr Nick Hankins and Dr Sher Jamal Khan are the project team leaders in the UK
and Pakistan, respectively.
Significant achievements of the collaboration include the development of membrane bioreactor (MBR) technology at NUST. An international workshop titled “Technological advances and challenges in water reclamation and reuse" was conducted at NUST in December 2011 followed by four months exchange visit by a NUST PhD student to University of Oxford in February 2012. By combining NUST specialty of MBR and University of Oxford specialty of forward osmosis (FO), mutually beneficial research was conducted. As an outcome of the collaborative research two research papers are submitted in high impact factor international journals. Moreover, one paper was presented at an international conference (CESE 2012) at Melbourne, Australia in September 2012 and another one is submitted to an international conference to be held in Sitges, Spain in April 2013. Also, Dr. Hankins secured a research grant worth £10,000 from the UK EPSRC for continuing the research on FO systems.
Seeing the enthusiasm and success of Dr. Khan within INSPIRE project, NUST approved a new research project titled “Establishment of Pilot Scale Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) at NUST” worth US$ 310,000/- in June 2012. For this project, Dr. Khan collaborated with Samsung Corporation, Korea in providing three membrane modules, modules cassette and membrane tank free of cost. Moreover, Dr. Khan and Dr. Paul introduced at the international workshop at NUST in December 2011 resulted in project approved under the SPEKE Grant from British Council. A strong technical collaboration with the Singapore Membrane Technology Centre (SMTC), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has also been developed during this project.
This partnership between high ranking universities from a developing country like Pakistan and a developed country like UK jointly supported by their respective research funding agencies has been a great success in achieving its goals and objectives and so far the project outcome has been extremely fruitful. The subsequent developments and successes in the remaining project period are highly expected. Some issues faced during project execution included long procedures for issuance of Pakistani and UK visas making it difficult to make frequent visits for the collaborating faculty and exchange students. Moreover, meager financial resources allocated for the purchase of permanent equipment made it difficult to easily execute laboratory-scale reactor studies.