We Can Rework Our University Education
Universities need to move away from being ivory towers solely concerned about academic work. Now is the time to join hands with the industry, government and the general populace, if ever they are to create new and relevant innovations, especially African universities. This is because the industry knows exactly what it needs. Thus, it should inform the universities’ curricula on what they should teach their graduates so that they later fit in this same evolving industry. Failure to do so will mean graduate unemployment will keep on soaring high. Likewise, universities should cease to be the ivory towers by also listening to the problems of the general populace. Notably, if they do so they will be able to clearly come up with innovations that can be commercialized and have the ability to address and end all social problems. Thus, there should be a nexus between universities and the outside world. All the parties involved should work as one unit in a bid to make life easier for everyone concerned. This is why it is even said two heads are better than one. Similarly, this applies in such a scenario between industry and universities, not forgetting the government as well as the general populace.
Each and every day people face countless challenges which universities’ innovations should address effectively. For that reason, that is why the Triple Helix model was postulated that has the government, industry and universities working together. Indeed, we can never talk about cordial relations of the universities and industry whilst leaving out the government. In fact, the government plays a pivotal role in making sure there is an enabling environment for both these two respective parties, industry and universities. In addition, it aids in enacting policies and giving out well needed funds to make things happen smoothly in their countries. Thus, it should be involved in this tripartite relationship. As for industry it will be able to inform the universities what they need currently. Also by working together they will ensure graduates are well informed of what is required of them. Universities as entities should be upheld because they are the spinning mill that always produces fresh-minded students with new ideas. Thus, these hubs need to be supported because they are educating the country’s human work force. That said, if these parties work well together, with a common goal, so much can be achieved rather than when they do so independently. All things being equal, working separately will cause nothing but chaos.
Having said that, universities need to change their culture and attitudes of not wanting to get involved with the industry or with the government either. In short, the ivory tower mentality is a thing of the past. All in all, countries like America are working hand in hand with companies, and for that reason, they are never short of relevant and commercially viable innovations. Actually, American universities’ tech hubs work in conjunction with companies, talk of the Silicon Valley where they are making magic each and every day. All things being equal, even as an academic or scholar, you need to network with other individuals for you to grow.
Nothing beats forming fruitful partnerships. In short, that is why it was said no man is an island. Following closely this same line of thinking, no university/scholar is an island.
Undoubtedly, through networking, you get a wealth of knowledge that will be to your benefit. Also, even in your personal lives do not be found wanting living in ivory towers where you think you have it all and know best. Instead, you need to come down from your high pedestal and face reality. It is never too late to do the right thing in life. People have a way of thinking to fit the quintessential scholar picture that you have to seclude yourself from the rest of the world, yet this is not the case to be always poring over your books oblivious of the outside sphere.
If you are living this way treasured reader, please come down from your high horse.
Ivory tower poem
Being in an ivory tower
Makes you feel like you have all the power
But in the end you will glower
As you will cower in the shadows as if a wilted flower
Make well meaningful partnerships
That won’t have investors jumping ship
Instead, flock together as sheep
With one common goal so that you won’t fall in a heap
Commercially viable innovations
Are the in thing like renovations
Bad decisions will make you regurgitate
As insults will be hurled at you whilst being repudiated
Make hay whilst the sun is still shining
This is business not origami
Let us state the facts as they are
So that we remove this ivory tower mentality blur
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Abigirl Phiri is a Ph.D student in commerce, free-lance writer, poet, International Ambassador of Peace, GBV activist, social entrepreneur, talent manager and an international marketer. More of her work can be found on her Facebook Page: Words are forever.