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Introducing Entrepreneurial Attributes to University Students

For those who had the chance to give lectures and design academic programmes in the 1970s and early 1980s, the goal of an academic programme at those time was to produce graduates who were able to fulfil the needs of the public and private sectors. At those times, the function of universities, known as the First-Generation University (1GU), was focused on teaching and learning.

However, with the rapid development of economy, universities have started to, apart from teaching and learning, focused on researches. This is called the Second-Generation University (2GU). Lectures are not only based on knowledge in the textbooks, but also based on knowledge obtained from researches conducted by lecturers. Hence, the content of lectures is not only from the knowledge of others, but also from the lecturers’ own learning/knowledge derived from their researches. Students are not only given knowledge, but they are also exposed to skills in conducting researches.

Today, more and more universities are actively commercialising the results/findings of their researches and knowledge, apart from teaching and scientific research duties. The research results/findings are identified as sources of fund and wealth. Universities are viewed as the catalyst of new entrepreneurial activities by utilising the knowledge gained through their research results/findings. This is known as the Third-Generation University (3GU).

Nevertheless, in developing countries, most universities are still at the 2GU level where researches are focused on the output and not on the research results/findings. Although research outputs such as journal publications, citations, and patents are very important, the results/findings of a research are the actual value and wealth generation through the commercialisation of the research products by entrepreneurs.

What are the implications of the 3GU development to teaching and learning and the graduates to be born?

If viewed from the aspect of university development, students at the 1GU level are taught to identify facts and defend the truth. At 2GU, students are introduced to research skills to investigate the facts and truth. However, at 3GU, students are nurtured to become entrepreneurs. The purpose of university education is not just to secure a job, but to produce entrepreneurs who are able to commercialise the research results/findings of 3GU.

At Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), for example, there are some research results/findings and innovation in the agriculture field such as controlled environment, precision agriculture, biological control, bio-fertiliser, and a variety of new crops that can be commercialised by graduates. The question is whether academic-oriented universities are capable of producing entrepreneurs – not just any entrepreneurs, but techno-entrepreneurs who are able to commercialise advanced technology and innovation.

In order to realise the making of graduates with entrepreneurial attributes, UPM has conducted the Agri-Entrepreneur Incubation Programme to produce viable agri-entrepreneurs as the catalyst for the commercialisation of the agriculture sector. To date, through this programme, UPM students have successfully set up 85 business companies involving 278 agri-entrepreneurs.

To ensure the sustainability of this incubation programme, strategic partnerships with government and private agencies are important. At the moment, the programme has established strategic partnerships with the Department of Agriculture, FAMA, Farmers’ Organisation Authority, MARDI, LKIM, Agro Bank and TEKUN. Strategic partnerships with private companies are to provide guidance to students who are part of the programme.

The reality is that graduates today not only have the knowledge and skills in a particular field, but they too need to have entrepreneurial attributes. Therefore, universities need to possess the 3GU characteristics to provide entrepreneurial ecosystems, and most importantly, to enable graduates to commercialise products and innovation produced by university researchers. 

This article was published by the Berita Harian newspaper on March 6, 2018

 

  Prof. Datuk Dr. Mad Nasir Shamsudin
Lecturer
Faculty of Agriculture

Date of Input: 07/03/2018 | Updated: 07/03/2018 | hairul_nizam

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