The University Grants Commission (UGC) has asked all varsities under it to set up University-Industry Inter-Linkage Centres (UILCs) to put in place integrated initiatives that will allow colleges to produce "well-groomed", tailor-made graduates for industry.
From setting up industry-academia clusters, live-work-play campuses and career-oriented courses to launching of startup and innovation policy, entrepreneurship development centres and joint research, UGC has mooted a series of initiatives that UILCs will implement. Incentives like land and tax benefits will be part of the scheme.
An elaborate plan of what universities can offer industry and how industry can help get deliverables from institutions, has been discussed in the guidelines for setting up of UILCs. It will include teacher training, faculty orientation and joint research programmes.
According to TOI, the idea behind this is "a majority of existing higher education institutions remain almost disconnected from the requirements of industries, not having incorporated specific requirements of various industries in their curriculum".
In a circular dated September 29 sent to vice-chancellors of all universities, UGC secretary Jaspal Sandhu said: "Considering the importance of this issue, the UGC has framed guidelines for establishment of UILCs. Kindly ensure the compliance of these guidelines by all the departments of your university as well as affiliated colleges."
While industry has for long complained about the problem of employability in India, some experts point out that turning our "higher education institutions into finishing schools is not a solution". Former Bangalore University VC MS Thimmappa, while welcoming the move, cautions: "We must be wary. We cannot just turn our institutions into finishing schools, which will be disastrous."
UGC has argued that "the country faces a dissonance and disconnect between higher education and its relevance to industry. A demand-supply mismatch as the economy is in need of a more 'skilled' workforce as also managers and entrepreneurs". The commission cleared the guidelines in a meeting on July 27.
Former Infosys board member Mohandas Pai contradicts this: "A good partnership can only happen when there is research in higher education so they can offer something to industry. It cannot be forced."
UGC, however, has proposed that UILCs will need its approval, and a screening committee may be set up for it. "Not everything can happen through control. Industry-academia interaction is welcome but there must be a limit to the government's role. It must only be an enabling role," International Institute of Information Technology-Bengaluru director S Sadagopan said.