Speakers at a webinar urged for tax exemptions on investment in academic research and development
Though Bangladesh is blessed with a demographic dividend of 44 million working-age people, graduates struggle in the job market as the conventional education system is not skills-oriented, said Rizwan Rahman.
Rizwan, the president of the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), also said that due to technological advancement and industrial transformation, automation will axe many low-skilled jobs.
So, to remain globally competitive, Bangladesh needs to identify the gap between real-world skills and academic education, he said on Saturday at a webinar titled “Industry and Academia Linkage: Role of Academia,” organized by the DCCI.
“Foreigners dominate in the technical and managerial positions of our key industries and corporate firms, leading to substantial remittance outflow from Bangladesh,” Rizwan said, suggesting that university curriculums be updated by incorporating the best practices followed in best western and regional universities.
“And that requires a collective initiative by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and universities,” he added.
Rizwan underscored the importance of research-based universities with a special focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Speakers at the webinar also urged for tax exemptions on investment in academic research and development.
Professor Satya Prasad Majumder, vice chancellor of BUET, said Bangladesh can follow the industry-academia collaboration practices prevalent in the US, Europe, and South Korea.
“We need to adopt short and long-term plans. For technological innovation and research, funding is a must,” he said.
He called upon both the government and private sector to come up with adequate funding for research and innovation.
Majumder also underscored the importance of redesigning the curriculum emphasizing on technology, innovation, business incubation, start-ups and entrepreneurship development.
“Industry representation in the academic council and advisory board of universities will minimize the skills gap between industry and academia,” he further said.
M Abul Kashem Mozumder, pro-vice chancellor of the Bangladesh University of Professionals, said there is a lack of necessary funding for research initiatives.
“To get adequate funding, the government should give tax benefits to this precious investment,” he added.
Dr Carmen Z Lamagna, vice chancellor of American International University of Bangladesh (AIUB), said the gap between industry and academia constitute curriculum mismatch with the industry standard, lack of a working environment for interns, and academics without industry exposure.
She said the government can arrange financial incentives, policy regulations, guidance and support, and infrastructure development to foster industry-academia collaboration.
Professor Imran Rahman, dean of the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB) School of Business, said the linkage between industry and academia needs a joint initiative.
"There are three aspects of education — teaching, research and career placement. But the most important one is research and innovation. And for that, the industry can join hands to inject necessary funds for research, considering it as an investment," he added.
Bangladesh ranked 112th out of 138 countries on the Global Knowledge Index published in December last year by the United Nations Development Programme and the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation.
On the index, Bangladesh ranked 117th with a score of 43.9 in the pre-university education category while in the higher education sector, the country ranked 129th with a score of 24.1.
Among seven categories, Bangladesh ranked best in the technical and vocational education and training sector by securing the 69th position with a score of 49.
The country also ranked 96th with a score of 16.4 in the research, development and innovation category; 97th with a score 43.1 in the information and communications technology (ICT) category; 114th with a score of 31.5 in the economy category; and 115th with a score of 46.4 in the general enabling environment category.