Traditionally universities were considered as ivory towers whose members (faculty and students) were less concerned with the everyday life of the world outside. However, the social and egalitarian awakening at the beginning of the 20th century has resulted in universities gradually moving away from this traditional concept. Thus universities of today do not confine themselves solely to the generation of new knowledge for knowledge’s sake but also to encompass the creation of applicable and economically useful knowledge for the well being of society as universities are supposed to be both the nation’s economic and intellectual engines. As such, universities are expected to cultivate closer and more meaningful relations with industry and the community lest their existence becomes irrelevant.Hence in consonance with USM’s overall efforts towards building a closer working framework with industry/companies, the case for appropriate individual Schools to set-up their own Industry Advisory Panel is considered both timely and useful in enhancing institutional competitiveness. The Panel, comprising selected academic staff and senior executives from the private sector, is intended to serve as a forum for promoting academia-industry interaction which can encompass advice on curriculum and training matters to better dove-tail with industry expectations and relevance, introducing best practices for possible adoption, consider practical approaches to address contemporary problems and issues of concern to both parties and discuss various implementation aspects pertaining to the matter.
The overall objectives of the formation of IAP is to enhance collaboration between the respective Schools and the industry in the areas of teaching and learning, consultancy services, continuing education, R&D, facilities and so forth.Specific objectives are as follows:
1. Teaching and Learning
- To ensure the curriculum is consistent and relevant with the need of the industry;
- To ensure sustainable internship opportunities are provided to the students;
- To encourage and promote the participation of experienced industry staff to partake in the teaching and learning activities of the schools;
- To increase the employment prospects as well as the employability of the students; and
- To establish opportunities for university staff to experience the ‘factory floor’ in order to update and upgrade their knowledge in order to improve their teaching.
2. Consultancy Services and Continuing Education
- To develop successful strategic partnerships with industry to promote innovation activities; and
- To develop and offer specialised and customised training programmes to the industry;
3. Joint Research/Cooperative Projects
- To intensify collaborative research between the university and industry;
- To identify the research gap between what is being done in the university and what is needed by the industry and vice versa;
- To diversify sources of research grant of the university staff;
- To allow academic staff to familiarise themselves with high-tech plant and equipment (hands-on operations) including industry’s best practices;
- To explore linkages and joint development of projects using USM’s expertise with potential for commercialisation of research outcomes;
- To provide opportunities for the staff to learn new R&D trends that are taking place outside the campus and to stay a step ahead by synchronising its programmes to coincide with such private sector demands eg. higher degree research and supervision; and
- To encourage discussions with the private sector as a means of bridging the gap between classroom and factory floor/workplace and facilitate the convergence of new ideas
- To provide access to specialised School laboratories for industry to undertake testing, calibration and maintenance thus providing an essential service to the private sector (deemed an indirect contribution by the University towards enhancing the national economy); and
- To allow the creation and establishment of “super-laboratories” which can be jointly shared by the university and industry under thecolaboratory concept.
III. Role of Members
- To meet at least once a year to advise new approaches and other inputs for possible inclusion under curriculum development, in particular matters relating to students’ practical training/internship programme and review implementation procedures.
- The visit to the university represents an opportunity for industry representatives (as prospective employers) to meet with students, participate in seminars, exchange of ideas with academic staff to address issues of common concern to both parties and find relevant solutions.
- Map strategies for possible collaboration in providing opportunities for post-graduate students to undertake research on industry-related projects.
- Discuss and identify university facilities that can be shared with industry (especially in promoting SMIs/SMEs) for research and testing needs including access to the University library.
- Industry/companies recognise the need for continuous investment in R&D activities in order to maintain their competitive edge and partnering with the university is thus a logical outcome to offset the increasing cost of setting-up physical facilities for research and training of human capital. Under this scenario, the School IAP can play a proactive role in forging an effective USM-Industry Network to help achieve the above aims.
The Dean of the School shall be the Chairman of the Panel. Membership of the Panel can comprise the various Chairmen of Programmes in the School and up to 5 ‘external’ persons who are drawn from industry/companies including the SMI/SME sector, preferably Alumni of USM, but can also include officials representing central research and government agencies appropriate to the disciplines offered by the School.