Integrating Talent Development into Innovation Ecosystems in Higher Education
This is higher education related project co-funded by Erasmus+ program of the European Union. The period of implementation of the project is from October 2017 till October 2020.The project is supported by the European Union’s Erasmus+ Programme - Capacity Building in the field of Higher Education. The project consortium consists of 4 European Universities – from Bulgaria, Greece, Finland and the UK, 4 Universities from India, 2 Universities from Nepal, 2 Universities from Sri Lanka and 2 Universities from the Philippines.
This project seeks to build the capacity of our University to ensure graduates' employability and the development of students’ talent. It will do this by encouraging University collaboration with external organizations (industry, public sector and community) and by providing opportunities for students to actively participate in and benefit from such cooperation. The idea is to combine a traditional focus on developing entrepreneurship and innovation skills through teaching, with a more innovative focus on allowing students to participate more often in research and innovation projects. The first approach will ensure that they have the necessary knowledge. The second approach will expose them to business realities and to the challenges of the outside world and will thus help them develop the skills they need to be employable.
Around the globe, Universities are adopting a variety of approaches to improve graduates’ employability. Key among them are:
- Improving the quality of entrepreneurship education
- Introducing entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurial learning in many different disciplines, not just in the fields of economics and commerce but also in less obvious study areas such as technology and the arts
- Strengthen soft-skills training (in regular studies or through extra-curricular activities and training)
- Strengthening cooperation with industry and business, as well as with non-governmental organizations, public sector organizations and communities, in order to:
a) Make programmes more relevant and connected to the requirements of the economy and society
b) Provide opportunities for students to engage in internships, traineeships and volunteering opportunities that will get them in contact with the world of work and the realities of society
c) Provide students with opportunities to get engaged in live innovation and research projects where they can address real-world problems of business and the society (as extra-curricular activities or through assignments during regular classes)
- In the frame of the project, the University is called to draft a coherent strategy to promoting graduates’ employability and nurturing student talent. This strategy should outline how our University will seek to:
a) Improve entrepreneurship education and promote entrepreneurial learning, innovation and creativity
b) Improve students’ learning experience through practice-based methodologies and extra-curricular activities
c) Involve students in innovation and research activities in cooperation with external stakeholders
- In the frame of the project, the University is called to review and propose improvements to the current policy for implementing and assessing student internships
- With support from the EU grant, we will establish and equip a Talent Co-creation Lab, which should initiate calls for collaboration with external stakeholders and launch a limited number of pilot innovation projects or trainings designed together with industry. The key role of this Lab will be to provide opportunities for students to participate in innovation and research activities or relevant trainings. We will also create a Student Community Service and Volunteering Center within the Lab, which should collaborate with non-profit and community organizations in order to create opportunities for volunteering.
- The Project consortium will develop training materials in the field of innovation, technology transfer and entrepreneurship
Relevancy in the context of Nepal and Agriculture and Forestry University
INNOTAL project is strongly relevant to the Nepalese situation and context as Nepal has been transforming from its traditional pace of development paradigm to Twenty First Century suitable education, pattern of creating jobs, and providing skill oriented training to its graduates through a better entrepreneurship and industrial tie up. Agriculture and Forestry University (AFU) being first technical university supported by Government of Nepal has strong and clear mandate of producing high quality graduates with day first competency at job or in the enterprises. AFU envisions its strategy to produce skilled graduates in the area of agriculture covering natural resource management. Accordingly, it has adopted new learning program called Learning for Entrepreneurial Experience (LEE) where final year students are deployed to the community and farm including private enterprises and industries where they learn a lot about agricultural enterprises, business schemes and gain confidence about ground touch reality. Likewise there are several activities in veterinary program that allows students to gain field level experience through internship program, study circle and Animal health camp. Several students have gained confidence to jump on to poultry industry due to these exposures and opportunities.
Under this context, INNOTAL project will have a direct and visible impact to the university research and communication system through better skill development opportunity and through increased employability as they will have opportunity to learn more from co-creation lab and community volunteer services. Faculty members will have similar opportunity to work in the team and also with talent students in several disciplines thus all these activities my help AFU to strengthen its present education system in order to develop relevant curricula and also to be able to provide guidelines to the similar other institutions in the future.