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University summit seeks curricula of future

Academia is Wozniak and industry is Jobs: Elsevier chairman
Mar 16,2017
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Participants at the 2nd THE Asia Universities Summit hailing from 86 universities across 24 countries pose for a commemorative photo after the opening ceremony at the University of Ulsan Wednesday. [PARK SANG-MOON]
ULSAN - Global leaders in academia, industry and government tackled the challenges and advantages of collaboration between academia and industry, including how to better prepare students for the rapidly evolving workforce, at the Times Higher Education’s Asia Universities Summit in Ulsan Wednesday.

Speaking for the industry sector, Choi Kil-seon, chairman of Hyundai Heavy Industries, said during a summit panel at the University of Ulsan, “Universities aim more for academic-oriented research while industries focus on short-term commercialization, so they should have more opportunities to discuss research topics that satisfy both parties.”

Over 220 delegates from 86 universities across 24 countries took part in the three-day summit, which held its opening ceremony Wednesday at the University of Ulsan in Korea’s bustling industrial capital, home to major shipyards and manufacturing plants.

Pointing out that universities and industries often “have difficulties finding proper partners,” Choi proposed information-sharing opportunities and encouraged schools to open more departments on convergent technologies.

“As universities and industries have limited budgets for research and development, they would find a way to share large-scale facilities,” added Choi, citing deep-water cavity tunnels, fire and explosion test facilities and electric propulsion test facilities. “This is based on HHI’s experience, but for other companies there are many other opportunities for convergent technology.”

He recalled Hyundai Group founder Chung Ju-yung’s dedication to founding education institutions despite starting out as a shipyard business that has grown into a leading diversified heavy industry company. “In order to motivate students to grow into eminent industrialists,” Choi continued, “universities and industries should have frequent opportunities to convey desirable visions.”

In its second run, British ranking institute THE’s Asia Universities Summit, also co-hosted by the Ulsan Metropolitan City, addressed the overarching theme of “Forging the future - building stronger alliances between university and industry.”

Along with global academic leaders from countries including Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Iran, Hong Kong, Japan, the United Kingdom, Australia and Pakistan, the summit was attended by Korean local and central governmental leaders including Ulsan Mayor Kim Gi-hyeon, Lee Joon-sik, the Korean deputy prime minister who doubles as minister for education, and Joo Young-sup, minister of small and medium business administration.

In his opening remarks, University of Ulsan President Oh Yeon-cheon pointed to a “paradigm shift in the collaboration between universities and companies that makes them positively interdependent on each other.” He added, “Companies have to constantly ask universities for the kind of talents they need, which will eventually solve youth unemployment. This needs to be reflected in the curriculum.”

The summit, which kicked off Tuesday and runs through Thursday, includes five sessions that cover the topics of Working Together - Empowering Research, Creating Industry Links and Enhancing Value Return on Investment, Power of Metrics and Entrepreneurship and Business Start-ups.

Youngsuk “YS” Chi, chairman of Elsevier, a provider of scientific, technical and medical information services, in his keynote address compared the potential in collaboration between universities and companies to the “symbiotic relationship” between Apple founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, “partners that had complementary skills.”

Chi added, “Universities are kind of like Wozniak, academic researchers doing the intellectual and technical groundwork to drive innovation and expand human understanding. Industry partners are more like Jobs. They take research knowledge and give it legs to solve problems and make things happen in real world.” Together, he said, they can “make an impact a worth more than the sum of two.” He added that the biggest challenge is “finding each other.”

HHI Chairman Choi addressed managing university-industry collaboration with panelists including Feridun Hamdullahpur, president of the University of Waterloo, Yuko Harayama, an executive member of the Council For Science and Technology Policy of the Japanese Cabinet Office and Hanyang University President Lee Young-moo.

Other panels included internships and industry-based learning and city governance as a catalyst of university-industry collaboration.

Angelina Yuen, vice president of Hong Kong Polytechnic University, emphasized the importance of internships as a vital part of students’ school experience to help prepare them for the work force. She added, “The curriculum has to be relevant, but it also has to the impact on the future development of the industry by injecting creativity and innovation.”

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]