SEARCA reinforces call for HEIs to strengthen link with industry needs

  • By Sonny Pasiona
  • 28 July 2023

(Top left and right photos by © SEAMEO RETRAC; Bottom left photo by Sonny Pasiona, SEARCA)(Top left and right photos by © SEAMEO RETRAC; Bottom left photo by Sonny Pasiona, SEARCA)

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam —The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) reinforced its call for higher education institutions (HEIs) to strengthen link with industry needs during the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) Regional Training Center (RETRAC) International Conference on 13-14 July 2023.

On behalf of SEARCA, Deputy Director for Programs Dr. Nur Azura Adam presented a conference paper titled, Reshaping Instruction, Research, and Development for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Southeast Asia.

Taking off from a pandemic scenario, Dr. Nur underscored the role of universities in producing graduates with a transformative mindset and deep understanding of complex social concerns, particularly in the context of food and agriculture.

The presentation covered some recommendations on initiatives that the universities can pursue under SEARCA's Academe-Industry-Government (AIG) Interconnectivity Model. This includes sharing human and financial resources to strengthen the linkage between basic and applied research and industry needs.

"In curriculum development in agriculture and allied programs, we should be in line with industry needs. We should know what is happening in the industry and align it with our curriculum," Dr. Nur said. She added that linking with the private sector could help the HEIs increase their students' employability.

"Most of us are academicians, but it's good to work with the industry as we cannot work alone in this complex world. We need to work together as we all want a better and smarter world for the future generation," she said.

The Malaysian deputy director also cited the Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC) as an example of an effective network facilitating the free exchange of information, resources, and expertise among top HEIs.

Initiated by SEARCA and launched in 1989, the UC stands today with a strong link of universities in Southeast Asia, Japan, Taiwan, Canada, and Germany. It has been essential to SEARCA's mission to develop the next generation of agriculture leaders and professionals.

With Dr. Nur to represent the Center at the conference was Mr. Sonny Pasiona, program specialist under the SEARCA Training for Development Unit, Education and Collective Learning Department. Dr. Nur also served as a moderator in a panel session on technology and artificial intelligence (AI) applications in teaching and learning, featuring speakers from Australia and Vietnam.

The RETRAC conference was attended by education leaders, researchers, and practitioners for knowledge-sharing and partnership-building around the conference theme, A New Paradigm of Leadership and Management, Teaching and Learning in Higher Education: Global and Local Perspectives and Practices.

RETRAC, a sister center of SEARCA under SEAMEO, has the mandate to assist SEAMEO member countries in identifying and addressing education, leadership, and management issues.