Why Academia-Industry linkage will never happen in
One of the most important role of a university is that it works with the industry and provides solutions to industrial problems. In the process, students get exposure to industrial environment, get to work on real world problems, gain experience and become a hot commodotiy for the industry to hire after they graduate. So in the end its a win win situation for everyone. The university gets much needed funds, the faculty gets financial rewards and experience, the students get exposure to industry and they can be more productive when they finally graduate. In this whole process, the lynch pin is the faculty that convinces the industry to give funding for research and are ultimately repsonsible for delivering results. They also have to prove to the industry that they have the capability and experience to solve the industry’s problems.
This does not seem to be happening in Pakistan. Apart from a couple of universities, the remaining 110 universities are not working with industry at all. In my opinion the main cause of this is lack of interest on part of the faculty. But before we lay the blame on the faculty, we need to understand the reasons why they are not interested.
Everyone knows the basic HR principle that behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated and behavior that gets punished ceases. Thats how children are trained, and thats how even God trains humans. Every company follows this principle to modify thebehavior of its employees to their advantage.
HEC and the university management have been advocating industry linkages for the last many years. However the most strangest part of this whole process is that they have set up a system to punish those faculty members who want to work for the industry. Let me explain this part in a bit more detail.
HEC has tied the promotion, salary increase and other benefits of the faculty to just two things. Publications in HEC recognized national and internation journals, and a PhD degree. Other than these two things, no matter what else the faculty does, it has zero value. Now let me be very clear here, and this is based on my years of industry experience that when you are working on industrial projects atleast 99% of the time, it neither results in a PhD nor a publication. Sometimes even if the work is such that it is worth publishing, the industry does not agree to make public the technology it has spent money developing. On a lighter note, I was thinking that even if God came down to earth, HEC and university management would not qualify him for a promotion, because although He created the world, the heavens and the universe, that would carry no weight as far as HEC is concerned. He would be declined the appointment as He would have only one major publication that also not recognized by Thompson Ruetors. So as a faculty member, if I spend my time working on industrial problems, giving solutions, bringing funding, getting my students internships, use the research funding to give scholarships to students as research allowance, launch a company, generate employment and so forth, at the time of my promotion and salary increase I would be refused any reward what so ever, and instead the promotion would go to another faculty member that used his time wisely and published papers in foriegn journals, paid them thousands of dollars in publication fee, and didnt bother if that publication had any value for the country or economy or for anyone other than for himself or for the foriegn publisher.
Similarly out of 16000 faculty members in the universities, only 3000 have PhD degrees. Should the remaining 13000 faculty members spend time doing their PhD which gets rewarded in terms of promotions, appointments as Dean, Head, Registrar or VC or spend time working on industrial problems? and stay at the same rank and salary? I think the faculty is intellegent enough to solve this very simple mathematical problem.
Therefore unless the universities and HEC change this reward process and make it more flexible to encompass real value addition, there will be no industry-academia linkages in Pakistan.
So now its time to get back to working on my useless PhD!!!! Who cares if I can design a PV system to end load-shedding in Pakistan.