Country Manager Update: Azhar Shah - Austrade Islamabad

13 Dec 2021


Azhar Shah, Country Manager for Pakistan, shares a market update on student recruitment, partnerships and technical vocational education and training (TVET). Specific market intelligence is identified in engaging opportunities for student recruitment in Pakistan’s tier two and three cities

Hello everyone, my name is Azhar Shah and I’m the Country Manager for the Australian Trade and Investment Commission based in Islamabad, Pakistan. My primary role is to look after the education sector in Pakistan market, and to promote Australian education capabilities. My journey working with Australian education starts way back when there used to be only 50 students travelling to Australia every year, currently we have some 15,000 Pakistani students studying in Australia.

Market Update

Australia is increasingly being recognised as a supplier of quality education services, positive attitude towards Australia, third most popular destination for Pakistani students.

Pakistan’s population is projected to increase to over 227 million by 2025, with over 60 per cent of the current population in Pakistan aged below 30. Pakistan's greatest asset is its young and growing population and there is a strong interest amongst students to travel overseas for quality education.

Student Recruitment

Pakistan student recruitment market is very mature, almost all Australian institutions are well represented in the Pakistan market, but having said that there is increased potential for the international student recruitment in Pakistan’s tier two and three cities, emerging with new wealth and upward living, and that brings the opportunities to expand Australian footprint in those cities, expanding on the agents’ network, parents who are looking for quality study options overseas and experience.


It is also very important to develop the partnership with the Pakistan Higher Education Commission (HEC), which is a regulatory body on higher education, offers wide range of opportunities for international universities. They’re always looking for foreign experts, faculties, visiting scholars, researcher to help them work with the Pakistani institutes. Over the past several years, the Pakistan HEC has managed very large-scale PhD scholarships programs, working with international universities, sending Pakistan scholars overseas, including to Australia. At present we have some 14 Australian universities MOU’s with Pakistan HEC on PhD scholarships.

Technical Vocational Education and Training

The Pakistan TVET sector is also very promising (National Vocational Technical Training Commission). This regulator and the implementor of TVET reforms in country is always looking for TVET sector experts. Not long ago an Australian TAFE institute delivered a Masters Trainer program in Pakistan of various trades and industry sectors.

The Pakistan TVET sector is going through reforms, quality skills shortage is not only within Pakistan, large scale Pakistani skills workforce also work in the Middle East market and that creates an opportunities for Australian providers to work with the Pakistani institutes for in market delivery of VET courses, recognition of the local qualification and pathways to Australia for further studies.


The takeaway from my message is, Pakistan is full of opportunities, a growing middle-class, a changing environment, emerging with quality public and private institutions, having largest private school networks in the region, and offers wide range of opportunities in the education sector.

Let’s work together to achieve more success in this market.

Azhar Shah — Country Manager, Austrade Pakistan.