SEARCA paper calls for HEIs to strengthen link with industry needs

A CONFERENCE paper presented by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) is reinforcing its call for higher education institutions (HEIs) to strengthen link with industry needs.

SEARCA director Dr. Glenn Gregorio said deputy director for programs Dr. Nur Azura Adam presented on behalf of SEARCA the conference paper titled "Reshaping Instruction, Research, and Development for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Southeast Asia."

The presentation was done during the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) Regional Training Center (RETRAC) International Conference in Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam on July 13 and 14, 2023.

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

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

Emphasizing 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, Adam's presentation covered some recommendations on initiatives that the universities can pursue under SEARCA's academe-industry-government (AIG) interconnectivity model.

She said 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," the SEARCA deputy director said, adding that linking with the private sector could help HEIs increase their students' employability.

She said it is also good for academicians to work with the industry as they 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 added.

She said an example of an effective network facilitating the free exchange of information, resources and expertise among top HEIs is the Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC) which was initiated by SEARCA and launched in 1989, linking universities in Southeast Asia, Japan, Taiwan, Canada and Germany.

She said UC has been essential to SEARCA's mission to develop the next generation of agriculture leaders and professionals.

Also together with Adam to represent SEARCA was Sonny Pasiona, program specialist under the SEARCA Training for Development Unit, Education and Collective Learning Department.

The SEARCA deputy director also served as moderator in a panel session on technology and artificial intelligence (AI) applications in teaching and learning, featuring speakers from Australia and Vietnam.