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Industry-Academia Collaboration: Bringing The World Of Practice On To Campus

"Educational Institutions perform a key role in knowledge creation and dissemination, preparing students for key roles in both; established corporate and entrepreneurship endeavours."

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The relationship between academia and industry is tested and true. Whether you call it a ‘Producer-Consumer’ relationship or a “Collaborative-Interactive” relationship, the irrefutable fact remains that a very strong relationship between the two exists. The industry is the primary patron of educational institutions; educational institutions prepare students to undertake corporate careers on completion of their educational programs and industry offers students a platform to demonstrate their abilities by implementing their knowledge. With business dynamics changing every day, it is a must for students to develop certain skills before they are absorbed into the industry. This is where academia’s role gets challenging and industry’s role comes in. A dynamic and ever-evolving business environment needs high-quality human resources that can quickly adapt to these changes and be productive in little or no time. This needs continuous revisiting of their pedagogy and innovative tailoring of learning resources in order to maintain the relevance of the knowledge imparted as per the current standards. 

Educational Institutions play an important role in knowledge creation and imparting, preparing students for key roles in both; established corporate and entrepreneurship endeavours. Graduates from educational institutions assume important positions not only in industry but also across various policy-making bodies and make important decisions to the economic development of the country. Needless to state, it is quintessential for institutes to ensure the development and application of a highly relevant and current body of knowledge.

It is a universally acknowledged fact that for institutions to create a high-quality body of knowledge, industry constitutes a major part by fostering links with knowledge creators and bidirectional channel for knowledge transfer. Organizations and entrepreneurs should provide opportunities for research and development modules creation, curricula development, live projects or firsthand experience with students. Academia, on its part, reciprocates through faculty who are responsible to ensure that they establish and maintain a deep industry focus in their teachings and constantly revisit content with a view to abreast with the current scenarios. The true purpose of industry-academia relationships is to craft ‘creation implementation synergy. 

Faculty, as the face of the institution, has many responsibilities in the industry-academia alliance. Reading, research, case writing and regularly interfacing with industry are some common pathways to enriching one’s knowledge. How a faculty chooses to develop him/ her depends considerably on the institutional framework and personal learning styles. 

Industry-Academia Gap - Why is there a gap?

This interaction between industry and academia in India is however limited to a few top institutes and laboratories and is mostly intervallic. There still exists a gap between the expectations of the industry for recruits who have the right skills, attitude and knowledge and the initiatives taken by academia to fulfil this need. A survey by Mckinsey Global Institute shows that global corporations find only 25% of Indian engineers employable and according to NASSCOM over three million undergraduates and postgraduates are added to the workforce every year. Industry and academia both seem to operate in their separate domains and this necessitates the need for a paradigm shift in the attitudes and approach of both to develop mutually beneficial goals and objectives and collaborating to achieve them. The critical nature of relationships requires that these gaps be managed by select subject matter experts who can tactfully craft a strategy to bridge the gap. 

Need for Industry academia collaboration

The need for collaboration between industry and academia, now more than ever before, is due to the changing dynamics of the industry itself. Currently, evolution has taken the industry to the point where it requires super-specialized resources. Thus, to fulfil the needs of such complex evolution industry-academia collaboration is vital for a sustained relationship.

Possible mechanisms to improve industry-academia interaction – bridging the gap

In order to bridge the gap that exists between academia and industry, educational institutions may undertake many initiatives, some of which are Live Projects, Summer projects, Capstone Projects, Research projects, Academic Writing. Joint Publications, Case writing, Applied Research, Industry Interactions, Co-teaching sessions, Workshops, Professional Associations.  

Not only to students, but industry associations must also provide faculty with an excellent forum for networking with the industry. ASSOCHAM, CII, PHDCCI, AIMA, NHRDN, NEN, HEN are some such bodies present across the country. Industry academia collaboration also gives a forum to both the parties to discuss various challenges faced by them, their needs and aspirations, how they can partner in removing the obstacles and creating avenues for building new bodies of knowledge, carrying out relevant research, complement each other’s efforts, and fulfil mutual and specific needs. 

Educational Institutions perform a key role in knowledge creation and dissemination, preparing students for key roles in both; established corporate and entrepreneurship endeavours. In a dynamic and competitive global business environment, it is quintessential to ensure the development and application of a highly relevant and current body of knowledge. The industry is responsible to play its part by fostering links with knowledge creators in order to facilitate the creation of a bidirectional channel for knowledge transfer between academia and industry. Academia takes responsibility to ensure that they establish and maintain a deep industry focus in their teachings and constantly revisit content with a view to adapt to the environment. Academia-industry interaction is a system that requires active participants from all stakeholders. There exists a gap between academia and industry and a well-thought strategy is required to bridge the gap which in return proves to be beneficial for both parties.  


Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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