Source: Bernama (Malaysia)
Source type: News Agency
Published on: 10 May 2011
Posted on: 11 May 2011
COPENHAGEN, May 10 (Bernama) -- The academia and industry in member nations of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) should reduce obstacles in building beneficial partnerships given the importance of such collaboration to the socio-economic development of the countries concerned, Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin told a conference on education here. Speaking at the plenary session of the ASEM For Ministers of Education (ASEMME) on Monday, Muhyiddin who is also the Education Minister, said that forging such alliance could be a challenge because universities and the industry were driven by different incentive systems.
Universities were primarily driven to create new knowledge and to educate in support of their core roles whereas industry and business were focused on capturing valuable knowledge that could be leveraged for competitive advantage, he said.
This, he said, was compounded by the fact that collaboration between universities and industry was on a voluntary basis, hence, the collaboration would depend on anticipated benefits and the bargaining positions of the parties.
"Therefore, there is a need for both academia and industry to work towards reducing the obstacles to building genuine and mutually beneficial partnerships, by focusing on positive collaborative experience, inter-organisational trust and the breadth of interaction," he said.
Muhyiddin, in sharing his view, said he believed that strong academia-industry partnerships could be formed, maintained and sustained in an environment "where there is a culture of collaboration", which required clear leadership, understanding and long-term policy commitments from the education sector and government.
Other attributes to the effective and sustainable partnerships would include strong governance on the part of universities, clear understanding of roles and articulation of objectives and shared goals, capacity building and definition of benefits to all participants.
Muhyiddin told the conference that universities, business and industry could cooperate in several areas in the context of social development.
He cited an example where industry could contribute towards initiatives taken by the universities in the establishment of endowment chairs that leap-frogged research in specific areas of expertise, which would ultimately drive education, research and service that contributed to community development.
Citing another example, he said, universities could provide consultancy and conduct training in topics of interest for industry besides collaborating in continuing educational programmes which were designed for industry participants that could lead them to doing Industrial PhDs (doctorates).
"Industry and businesses, on their part, can reciprocate by opening their doors to undergraduates for industrial training where they can hone their hard and soft skills, in preparation for their eventual entry into the labour market," he said.
Muhyiddin told the conference that the Malaysian government recognised the need for engaging businesses and industry in education to make its education relevant to the needs of its society.
As the Malaysian government was vigorously promoting and advocating academia-industry engagement, he said, the initiative was concretised by the establishment of industry and community partnership offices at five research universities with government funding provided under the Higher Education Strategic Plan launched in 2007, with the objective of creating a sustainable ecosystem for academia-industry and community collaboration.
Muhyiddin also stressed that academia-industry collaboration was not confined to a nation.
He welcomed proposals to share good practices and ideas to improve university-business cooperation between ASEM member countries and welcomed the establishment of a pilot programme for academia-business mobility of qualified students between Asia and Europe to be partly funded by public resources and industry.
He also proposed to the conference that the ASEM University-Business Forum, which was inaugurated in Bangkok in 2010, be linked to the EU University-Business Forum.
Muhyiddin also conveyed Malaysia's willingness to host the next ASEM University-Business Forum in 2012.