Nisha Ghumro Kalwar and Azar Kalwar are the dream team responsible for Sceptre College and The Royal Colosseum – two highly commendable additions to Karachi’s education sector. The couple and work partners share all the details of their educational institutions with OK! Pakistan, and what they hope to achieve.
Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Nisha Ghumro Kalwar & Azar Kalwar: We are Nisha Ghumro Kalwar and Azar Kalwar and together we are heading two educational institutes: Sceptre College for Advanced Studies (an A Level college affiliated with British Council and Cambridge/CAIE) and The Royal Colosseum Institute for International Studies (an external degree program/TNE institute offering Foundation Programs and Bachelor Degree Programs affiliated with The Northern Consortium United Kingdom/NCUK, College de Paris and various other European and UK universities).
From Sceptre to The Royal Colosseum – what were your thoughts and inspiration behind it?
NGK: I always wanted to establish world class institutes for higher education in our country, particularly because my higher educational experience in the UK was life changing and I wanted to provide an experience as great or even better for the students of our country. Sceptre was inspired by the A Level college I attended in London, MPW. The Royal Colosseum is inspired by the UK universities I attended, City University London for BSC (Hons) Mathematics and Queen Mary University London for MSc (Hons) Investment and Finance. My vision is to provide students with courses and degree programs that have international openness and offer degrees that are not only internationally recognised but also extremely updated in terms of their teaching material and content.
AK: Sceptre enabled us to establish first hand interactions with thousands of aspiring university students and the key problems we highlighted were that most students want to go abroad for university but due to the rising rate of the Dollar or Pound Sterling, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for parents to afford three or four full years of educating their children abroad. Furthermore, many students want to have an edge in international job markets to secure the option of shifting abroad and earning in Dollars/foreign currencies to send back home to their families and hence want degrees that are recognised and accepted world over. Lastly, Covid was an eye opener for a lot of parents who couldn’t see their children studying abroad for a very long time and would now prefer for their children to attain international degrees from the comfort of their own homes. Hence, we felt that the need of the hour was to provide a solution for all these problems and that solution is The Royal Colosseum.
Tell us about your institute and what makes it unique.
NGK & AK: The Royal Colosseum is an Institute that is offering bachelor degree programs from all across Europe. UK external programs have always been readily available in Pakistan before but we strive to give our students more options in terms of course selection as well as options from the UK that vary in price to cater to the financial requirements of all. But what makes our institute truly unique is our collaboration with College de Paris where you could study in any of the 32 study centers all over the globe, be it France or the Middle East, in the exact same price that they are paying at THe Royal Colosseum so now students can go and fulfil their dream to study abroad under 1 million PKR per year which is a first in its own regard.
What made you think of the name The Royal Colosseum?
NGK: Our philosophy is to provide the best experience to our students, be it the esteemed faculty, the beautiful one-of-a-kind campus or the world-renowned degrees. In other words, our students are royalty for us, the future kings and queens, and we want to create leaders hence the word ‘Royal’ constantly kept popping up in our discussions when finalising the name of the institute.
AK: The Colosseum, because in today’s day and age it is imperative for students to have a mindset similar to a gladiator. With a myriad of challenges faced when developing one’s career, it is essential to be focused, train more and practice in order to bleed less in battle. Our aim is to produce quality human resources which are desirable by the job market locally, regionally and internationally with the correct guidance, counselling, internship program and mentorship.
What do you look for in successful applicants?
AK: A well balanced profile along with a spark and a drive or hunger for excellence.
NGK: English Proficiency is key for being academically successful in the range of degree programs that we are providing. Furthermore, you need good grades in your O and A Level Examinations.
How do you support your students to leverage them into a career after graduation?
NGK: University is a vital time to build industry linkages and gain opportunities for job placements. Our institute has signed MOUs with 50 plus leading local and foreign companies in various fields relevant to each degree program in order for our students to gain the right practical experience and make the much-needed industry connections to be ahead of the game. Each and every student of The Royal Colosseum will be given a guaranteed placement in one of these companies and we are sure they would be able to convert them into long term jobs with the training provided by The Royal Colosseum and its affiliate consortiums.
AK: Close supervision and monitoring of their academic performance and regular mandatory university/career counselling sessions. We also have a vibrant student internship program. Last but not the least, we also have mental health counselling to ensure the emotional well being of our student body preparing to start their careers.
Is there anything going on within your business education community that you are particularly excited about?
NGK & AK: Other than the launch of The Royal Colosseum we are excited about other transnational institutions and degree programs coming to Pakistan. The world is a global village and what better international trade or exchange than education?
How would you describe yourself as the Heads of The Royal Colosseum?
NGK & AK: Passionate, determined, hardworking, focused, easily accessible for our student body, tolerant and progressive.
What can you tell us about your offerings?
NGK & AK: We have launched a very ambitious degree program where we are offering foundation programs from NCUK and College de Paris as pathway courses to reach their desired undergraduate programs with us at The Royal Colosseum or in the UK via NCUK Foundation program or the international year one or any other universities they wish to attend.
We are offering foundations and bachelors programs varying from law (LLB), fashion, textile, action sports marketing, computer science, information technology, business administration, media communications, film business and production, digital marketing and social media management, certificates in culinary arts and many more that are in the pipeline.
You mentioned College De Paris and NCUK. Can you tell our readers more about that?
NGK & AK: College de Paris is a university consortium of 25 French universities providing three years external degree programs to be completed in Pakistan with the option of attending their affiliate university programs at 31 other study centers around the globe for the same price as they are paying at The Royal Colosseum. We believe this is a huge opportunity to gain the experience of international education for Pakistani students at reasonable rates.
NCUK is a university consortium established 35 years ago which provides pathway programs from established UK, New Zealand, Australia, US and Canada universities where students can pursue their International Foundation Year, International Year One and International Year Two in Pakistan while attending and gaining their university degree from UK for their third year from 45 plus universities which are part of the consortium.
What values and ethos does the university stand for?
NGK & AK: At The Royal Colosseum we envision a culture of success and excellence. Our mission is to strive for brilliance and raise the standard of education in Pakistan through learning, understanding, innovating and sharing. Together with outstanding courses and a renowned faculty, the institute is built on the ethos of providing quality education on par with international standards.
Bachelors of Luxury Marketing really caught our eye – could you walk us through that? What kind of career opportunities would the students have?
NGK & AK: Fashion, beauty and other luxury items are multi-billion-dollar global industries. With the advent of social media, there are new fields of career opportunities opening up for fashion bloggers, influencers, etc. Luxury Marketing as a degree can help you be a part of this current booming industry and contribute with skill sets that are not only limited to marketing and sales of luxury products but also explore business, fashion, textile, social media and other contributing factors of this industry.
What is The Royal Colosseum’s strategy to produce socially responsible leaders and managers of tomorrow?
NGK & AK: A huge part of our mission is to instill values of compassion and empathy within our student body. We are an organisation that believes in having a positive impact on society therefore we have numerous student-led societies which are involved in social welfare work, promotion of sports in the youth of Pakistan, conducting philanthropic events, and teamwork exercises and workshops that will help prepare them to be the leaders of tomorrow. Furthermore, a lot of practical work experience will be provided to the students as part of the curriculum to prepare them for what lies ahead of them.
What are your latest accomplishments in adaptive learning methods and how are you also equipping your students with the necessary skills to lead the ongoing technological transformation of corporations?
NGK & AK: One of the most attractive things about our courses is that they have been updated less than two years ago, hence all the teaching tools and techniques have been applied keeping in mind latest requirements and technological advancements. For instance, our fashion degree program teaches digital drawing which is the latest way to create your designs and a preferred skill required by the current fashion job market, however some of the most reputable local fashion schools are still focusing on students to draw by hand and have no classes that teach designing on tablets or computers. We aim to make all our students comfortable with working with machines and computers and hence will be providing our students with the latest computing devices, tablets, learning managing systems, cameras and other latest media equipment. All our classrooms are equipped with smart boards, high quality projectors, and an extremely user-friendly app that will make learning through technology a lot easier for our student body.
In your opinion, what is the sweet-spot or “perfect equilibrium” between theory and real-life business?
NGK & AK: Technical learning can only take one to a certain extent of understanding business. No books or exams ever prepare you for the practical issues that arrive in the daily running of a business, for example, things such as being cheated by a business partner, how to deal with smear campaigns, how to deal with deadlines not being met due to unforeseen circumstances, or how to manage and motivate the human resource, etc. The sweet spot can only be found when students are inserted in real life businesses and workplaces in order to apply their theoretical knowledge.
If you could choose anyone from history as your mentor, who would you choose and why?
NGK: Michelangelo. I love the history of art and not only have I been a fan of every piece of work created by Michelangelo but also of the fact that he was a painter, sculptor, architect and engineer all in one and he excelled at all four fields by producing marvels that are a source of amazement even today. He defied the norms of invention and used his mind to its full potential during the entirety of his life.
AK: Alexander The Great, as he proved that a lot can be achieved at a young age if one firmly believes in their destiny and diligently works towards their goals.
What are the five things that you would want your students to remember that might help them become better graduates or even better human beings?
NGK & AK: Hard work, perseverance, belief, tolerance, and the drive for excellence.
As a result of the pandemic, we have seen the potential of e-learning, and technology is offering truly revolutionary horizons such as virtual reality or the famous metaverse. Have you started experimenting with them?
NGK & AK: Yes, we were one of the first educational institutes which incorporated Virtual Reality headsets into the learning processes. We made a successful switch to online, hybrid and physical classes with the help and utilisation of e-learning, zoom classes and Microsoft teams. Majority of our degree programs/curriculums were updated in 2020 (European standards) being the latest in the country such as our computer science degree offering bachelors in artificial intelligence, bachelors of digital marketing and social media management along with built-in certifications covered in each semester so that our graduates are ready to join the work force right after graduating rather than joining other institutes to complete their certifications such as Microsoft, AWS etc. in order to get a job.
Numerous companies today offer training that allow workers to improve their skills. What are the differences between these types of training courses and those that The Royal Colosseum offers? And what can universities do to remain relevant in this scenario?
NGK & AK: We firmly believe in enhancing the capacity of our human resource and student body. Our courses are more case study based and encourage gaining work experience in order to bridge the gap between theory and practice while instilling critical thinking and problem solving at the heart of our learning processes. For example, our students are competing in an international case study competition in France, our law department just hosted our first national mooting competition, we have a Virtual Reality session coming up with a guest speaking session from a renowned international IT/fin tech company Managing Director. Furthermore, we would love to see other universities incorporate such methods of learning, including the upgradation of their curriculum and internship programs which instill critical thinking and problem solving rather then the mundane method of rote.
What do you look forward to in your first year?
NGK & AK: We look forward to creating an environment of academic excellence along with practical learning. The amalgamation of technical skills with life skills is something we look forward to. We cannot wait to have our student body on campus diving into their higher education and making the most of every opportunity of learning that comes their way. And we most certainly look forward to making a life time of memories that our students will cherish forever.
What are some of your goals for The Royal Colosseum?
NGK & AK: As mentioned before, we want to provide international standards of higher education, mentorship, guidance and counseling, internship programs to provide work experience and industry connectivity, to bridge the gap between theory and practical, and to produce high quality human resource which are desired by the job market locally, regionally and internationally. Ultimately our goal is to produce well balanced, well rounded and socially responsible graduates/citizens. We believe our academic program will instill critical thinking, problem solving and a hunger/drive for excellence.
The Royal Colosseum in one word?
School life or university life?
NGK: Both are extremely special in their own way.
AK: University life.
If you could be anywhere in the world where would it be?
NGK: Pakistan, our country needs us!
AK: The moon.
IOS or Anroid?
NGK & AK: IOS.
NGK: The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak.
AK: The Prince by Nicollo Machiavelli.
Last song on your playlist?
NGK: The Weekend on repeat.
What is that one thing you can’t live without?NGK: Family.
AK: Can’t live without a purpose.
Morning person or night owl?
NGK: I’m at my best at all times.
AK: Both, based on the need of the hour.
Dogs or cats?
NGK: Tough to say!
INTERVIEW: MEHR KASSIM
PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF NISHA GHUMRO KALWAR
& AZAR KALWAR