Industry-academia linkage in Pakistan, the call of the time

Industry-academia linkage (IAL) can be depicted as interactive, mutually inclusive goals and objectives oriented between industry and the academic world. The pillars of the academic world stand on creativity, philosophy, and theory, whereas the industry exists on prevalent commercially feasible ideas. Conversely, academia is software, and industry is hardware. To understand the gap better, suppose a professor has delivered thousands of lectures on swimming but never put his feet in the water till his retirement; he will always remain introverted and incomplete. So it’s a matter of demand and supply gap between the industry and the academic world.

The curriculum is written decades ago, whereas industry moves on forward on a daily basis. In the modern world, market trends and the pace of the industry are far faster than before. This is why when an engineer enters a factory shop floor; he comes immediately to know that he does not practically understand many things...... paper out of syllabus...haha! The real second half of the learning journey stems from that point of an intellectual shock to an engineer. The industry-academia linkage (IAL) is indispensable for commercial organizations, educational institutions, and the nation as a whole. The industrial revolution was not possible without following this concept. The interaction must be reciprocal for conducting applied research. Sharing projects among the students is another dilemma. It’s like four bed home shared by four people without any acknowledgment of the one’s bed. Engineers have to study 18 hours to get admission to reputed universities, but after admission, they are not cerebrally grilled like medical and accountancy students are done. The labs of the majority of technical institutions are outdated, without calibrations, and crippled. The universities don’t have in-house shops as medical colleges have in-house training facilities.

Pakistan is not much different from other South Asian countries in facing the ill effects of this gap. The gap between technology and curriculum is long-standing, especially in the third world. A year ago, Pakistan was rated 99th among the 132 economies in the Global Innovation Index in 2021. Pakistan’s position of 134th out of 157 countries in the Human Capital Index is mocking us. Students don’t have enough facilities to consume time on factories’ floors. Resultantly, overseas organizations expect the students seeking admission to endorse their education from their visiting countries. Pakistan, among its other south Asian counterparts, is lagging behind in the development of quality products and its export to the world due to the lack of Research & Development. In Pakistan, out of about 200 HEC-recognized public and private universities, only 60% have some collaborations with private and public sector organizations. Unfortunately, most of these 60% exists only on papers or dumped under the dust. Let’s see how we can eliminate this gap.

  1. Realization: We still have not realized its significance. Only realizations generate the eros followed by the action.

  2. Financial Matters. Budgetary cuts are the biggest reason. Although exceptions exist, government universities don’t have sufficient funds to spend; private universities do want to spend. Our allocation for R&D in the 2022 budget is below 1 %, which is embarrassing in the era daily organizations are outdated. In R&D were at 125 out of 132. On academia-industrial linkage, we are tailenders; because it’s perfectly correlated with economic growth. When a country would not have the basics, expectations for self-actualization and R&D are no less than a dream.

  3. No compulsion on the universities to force students to spend particular time, during their education, in the industry.

  4. National social character: By nature, we are a fluke and shortcut lovers nation in search of quick degrees, whether earned or unearned. Students take education as a liability and fatigue. There are countries the students have spent a huge time in the last years in the industry, especially during their projects, they work like laborers. Our students show attitude during internships. The only way to eliminate this gap is to develop more cordial relations between industry and academia through trade associations and chambers. A radical change is needed in the curriculum. The linkage between academia and industry should be strengthened. HEC needs to play the role of ensuring making some things compulsory. Public awareness is a must through many activities. The PAAPAM and its Symposium high profiled bridging this gap sensing its social responsibility. The Pakistan Association of Automotive Parts & Accessories Manufacturers (PAAPAM) is playing a very active role by absorbing many graduates. The PAAPAM is in agreement with MoU with the Pakistan Engineering Council, UET, UMT, QCE, TEVTA, PISC, and the Institute of Space & Technology to give six-month training. The PEC and PAAPAM have shared arrangements to provide internships for 3000 students in the first phases for Rs.30000 stipend per month. Definitely, the industry will experience its rich outcomes shortly. The PAAPAM has moved one step forward to afford opportunities for many universities and relevant govt organizations with free stalls at the landmark Pakistan Auto Show from 20-31 July 2022 at Pakistan Auto Show. The grandeur of PAS is the symposium where noticeable academia, industry, and government officials join their heads every year to eliminate the existing gaps between the industry and academia.


— Ghulam Murtaza is a freelance author & secretary general of PAAPAM.


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