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Speakers: Teach entrepreneurial skills at universities

  • Published at 12:13 am November 24th, 2019
AUPF Mahmud-Hossain-Opu
Delegates at the 18th Asian University Presidents Forum at Dhaka on Saturday, November 23, 2019 Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

The second day of the 18th Asian University Presidents Forum focuses on making graduates into job providers, rather than job seekers

Speakers at an international conference have emphasized the importance of developing entrepreneurial skills among the youths and graduates so they can create job opportunities for each other.

They also stressed the necessity of creating an environment in which graduates can achieve said skills, and gain experience in order to be more efficient. 

They made the observations on the second day of the three-day 18th Asian University Presidents Forum (AUPF), held at a city hotel on Saturday.

The AUPF and Daffodil International University (DIU), in collaboration with the Association of Private Universities of Bangladesh (APUB), have organized the conference with the theme "Future of entrepreneurship education and experiential learning: Determent of developing successful entrepreneurial ecosystem in Asian economies,” with several engaging sub-themes provided for sessions throughout the conference.

This is the first forum hosted in Bangladesh, being attended by around 150 participants from 35 delegations of 13 countries in Asia and Europe. 

Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni attended the inaugural ceremony of the second day as the chief guest.

Addressing the event, she said the Bangladesh government wants to train a student into becoming a quick learner, so they can become an entrepreneur, creating more jobs and contributing to tackling the country’s unemployment issue.

“We are now talking about the fourth industrial revolution. In the midst of that process, we are trying to transform our students to become learners – not just for on Sunday, but forever,” she said.

Acknowledging that the world is changing fast, the education minister said if the students do not develop their learning skills, they will never be able to adopt the changing techniques. 

About the recruiters’ complaint on not getting sufficiently skilled graduates, she said: “That is why educational institutions and industries have to be supportive of each other.”

Speaking on the demographic dividend, the minister said to get the best services from the dividend, it requires investment, which is mandatory in the education sector. 

“We probably have another 10-12 years to make the right investment so we can make a decent profit for the demographic dividend,” she added.

Keynote speaker Baybars Altuntas, the chairperson of World Business Angels Investment Forum, said entrepreneurs are those who could convert intervention to innovation.  

Dr Jekuk Chang, president of Dongseo University in South Korea and the standing committee member of the AUPF, said new ideas would be worthless if the ideas could not be realized.

He emphasized the importance of the exchange of good practices among the member universities so that more and more entrepreneurs and skilled graduates are developed.

During his presentation at the conference, DIU Board of Trustees Chairman Dr Sabur Khan, also the standing committee member of the AUPF, demonstrated how the DIU’s skill development program is providing support to entrepreneurs in Bangladesh through their academic activities, and funding initiatives.  

He mentioned that in Malaysia, the government has made it compulsory for the public universities to train 18% of their students to be entrepreneurs, and failing to do so would cancel their subsidy from the government. 

‘Everyone should learn entrepreneurship’ 

Entrepreneurship skills should be taught at educational institutions so students can keep pace with the rapidly growing small business and e-commerce industry, speakers said during a panel discussion yesterday.

“It does not matter if a student is studying marketing,  pharmacy or engineering. Entrepreneurship is a skill every student needs to be taught at universities,” said Prof Sarwar Jahan, founder of Southern University Bangladesh.

Highlighting the fact that universities are creating job seekers rather than job providers, he recommended that higher education prepare students to start something of their own; it does not have to be limited to a certain industry.

Prof Jinbo Lin, assistant director of Chaoshan College in China, said by 2020, the number of internet users would reach 480 million – nearly 80% of the population of southeast Asia – and by 2025, Southeast Asia's e-commerce market will be worth $28 billion.

The rapid growth of the e-commerce market has created the need for more trained people, he said, adding that opportunities are only for those who are prepared. 

Dr Janusz Szpytko, professor at AGH University of Science and Technology in Poland, said new relevant student skills for a connected world and social well-being should include an emphasis on analytical reasoning, data search and analysis, system and computational thinking, emotional intelligence, entrepreneurial mindset, communication, and team-working skills. 

Conference ends on Sunday

On the final day of the conference today, guests will visit the DIU permanent campus in Ashulia, Dhaka to participate in the closing ceremony, where University Grants Commission Chairman Prof Kazi Shahidullah is expected to be the chief guest.

Originating from a friendly collaboration between institutions of higher education in China and Thailand, the AUPF was officially established in 2002 to bring the higher education institutions across Asia under one platform.

Since then, the forum has been held annually in different Asian countries and has fostered relationships and cooperation among participating institutions.

The next forum of the event will be held at the Vellore Institute of Technology in India.