In spite, India being the 3rd largest higher education system in the world just behind China & US educates only 10 percent of its young population into higher education as compared to 15 percent in China and 50 percent in other industrialized countries, says the latest MHRD report. Still, the higher education enrolment figures in India are not very encouraging, due to the fact that in the current education system higher the qualification lesser is the relevance to the industrial requirements. This is witnessed from the fact that an ITI/Diploma engineer is more employable as compared to M. Tech/ Ph.D. holder in industry. Eventually, these M. Tech/ Ph.D. holders enter into academics making the future education system even more irrelevant.
"Innovation through research and development related activities can be introduced in the industries through higher education system by facilitating students and faculties to have access to industrial activities and processes"
No doubt our current education system is research-based & in lines with foreign leading universities but on the other side, not much research related activities are undertaken at the industry level as research is considered to be an investment-intensive, non-productive and non-profitable activity. To overcome this, the current higher education system needs to undergo a deeper analysis of industrial requirements, at the same time; industry needs to strengthen academic involvement across its various functional applications. In the current Indian scenario, higher education system is more theory based even in terms of research related studies, whereas the industry is more application based with very less research-related activities.
The students during the tenure of their higher education undergo internships or dissertation in their final semester, but then there lays no scope of improving their practical skill sets through education system; as the students directly enter into industry post completion of internship/dissertation. Thus, there is no feedback mechanism, either from the industry or the student to the academic, in terms of the practical skillsets or trending technologies prevalent in the industry that can be incorporated as a part of academic curriculum. For this very reason, it becomes imperative for academia to provide industrial exposure intermittently during the academic tenure not only to the students but also to the faculties.
On the other hand, the industry needs to put deliberate efforts to get engaged with academia, so as to involve faculties and students through means of projects, dissertation & research in industry-related activities, by providing them with problem statements existing in the industry. The students and faculties can go for a yearlong sabbatical in the industry and then come back to academics; similarly, the industry delegates should be put into academics for a short-term period intermittently. This will ensure both academia and industry to identify solutions or alternatives in order to cater to their mutual needs more efficiently. The existing higher education system promotes research studies but then it faces acute shortage of funds, technical expertise, and exposure which can be fulfilled if industry counterpart takes initiative and attempts to utilize these research-related studies to upgrade and enhance its existing setup.
Unfortunately, current Indian industry is mainly profit-centered, which focuses majorly on cutting costs, duplicating trending technology and expanding operations without much focus on innovation, research and development activities due to more number of SMEs & MSMEs, which have a dearth of exclusive funds for such activities. In such scenario, the onus lies on to higher education system to groom as well as develop innovative and creative minds right before they enter into the corporate world, by identifying the market trend and upcoming technologies beforehand. Innovation through research and development related activities can be introduced in the industries through higher education system by facilitating students and faculties to have access to industrial activities and processes.
The ultimate result will depend on the fact that how much is the industry willing to accommodate academia, its students, and faculties to be a part of industrial processes and related activities; as it takes efforts, time and cost as well, at the industry end. The industry is driven by profits and any such activity which is cost-intensive and non-productive in nature will definitely not attract attention from the industry.
So, what is it, that in the end will bridge up the gap between the academia and the industry in the long run? Maybe, industry starts with their own institutes, which many have already ventured into but then it has just ended into another profit center or a medium to save on their annual taxes except the few of the most reputed ones; or else academia starts with their own companies which are a distant dream as the profits are more and risk factor being less in academics than in industry. In the end, what will keep both academia and industry abridged will depend on the fact that how much each end is efficiently able to cater to the objective of its existence at the other end, thus objective oriented higher education system.
Santosh Nair, Sr. Director & Strategy Head
Santosh Nair is a Mechanical Engineering Graduate with Masters in Business Administration and has more than 12 years of professional experience in varied fields such as Manufacturing Maintenance, Sales & Marketing as well as Training & Placement. He has served in the corporate industry for more than 7 years in eminent organizations such as TATA GROUP, GCMMF (Brand Amul) & SteelCo Gujarat Ltd.