In the age of competitive knowledge and information-based economy, amidst a constant onslaught of new technologies, trends and demographic changes, there is need for collaboration and convergence between knowledge-based organizations in countries striving for socio-economic growth and prosperity.
The new knowledge-based society and its economic growth are completely dependent on the generation of intellectual capital. This leads to a dramatic rise in the demand for higher education. The youth are the biggest stakeholders in the process. There is thus a dire need to enable the higher education sector to lead the processes of learning, governance, innovation, creativity, research and commercialization for a synergistic way forward. Focusing on soft power will enable knowledge creation and transfer and benefit the nation at large by building strong communities and economies.
What Higher Education Commission (HEC) envisions for 21st century Pakistan is to bring quality and culture of learning, research, creativity, innovation and commercialization across Pakistani higher education institutions. However, in order to prepare Pakistan for the 21st century challenges, it is highly imperative to:
- Inculcate a culture of merit and good governance;
- Create a sustainable national policy ensuring university-society and university-industry potential;
- Build and encourage university-society and university-industry partnerships;
- Foster a spirit of public-private partnership;
- Create entrepreneurial culture in academic institutions and support organizations;
- Enable public and private sector investment in new technologies and technology-based companies;
- Champion the role of universities in community and economic development;
- Drive a paradigm shift where human resource is an asset, and how we can convert our demographic challenge into our asset.
The universities are not stand alone entities. They play an important role in creating opportunities and businesses for people producing a new generation of leaders, and benefitting the society as a whole. In other words, the concept of knowledge based economy is driven by university leaders abreast with the latest trends of learning, innovation and development.
The emerging concept of promoting university-industry technology transfer is considered the main impetus behind the success of emerging economies worldwide. For fast-paced economic growth, technology-based companies partner with research universities for talented people, new knowledge, and innovative technology. In this regard, universities in fast developing economies have significantly increased the volume of their research and technology transfers in just a few decades.
The HEC of Pakistan since its inception in 2002 has been spearheading research and innovation in universities, leading to creation and growth of knowledge capital and indigenous research in arts, sciences and applied technologies. It is therefore imperative that relevant research and innovation culture in universities is duly supported by key stakeholders and decision makers.
Universities in Pakistan have responded vociferously to initiatives taken by HEC towards research and development. Many projects have made their presence felt at national and international forums and have impacted the society as a whole.
Streamlined research, generated by strategic academic processes that build strong societies and economies has now entered a takeoff phase of commercialization. Business and Technology Incubators are being established in universities across Pakistan to promote university-industry collaboration. Universities have initiated different research projects related to agriculture/business/industrial needs, which is shared with the related stakeholders and other sections of the society.
In this regard, HEC’s first ever National Conference titled ‘Setting Standards for the 21st century Pakistan’ is showcasing the contribution of higher education sector towards nation-building. It will demonstrate the social and economic impact of creativity and research carried out in universities and how the holistic reforms of higher education has changed the face of Pakistan. This national conference, and the regional conferences to be held subsequently, will give an opportunity to the stakeholders of Pakistan to come forward and define the need for university learning and research to set the direction for 21st century Pakistan.
The conference aims to assemble key stakeholders including Parliamentarians, Diplomats, Business Entrepreneurs, Bureaucrats Policymakers, Agriculturists, Educationists and members of the civil society who will serve as opinion leaders and provide an impetus leading to a national pledge to be taken to promote university–community and university-industry linkage and technology transfer for building a strong Pakistan.