Professor: Industry input good for universities

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Forging closer links between industry and academia can help prepare graduates for the modern workplace, says Soumitra Dutta, Professor of Business and Technology, and Dean of External Relations at INSEAD business school, in an interview with EURACTIV.

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Soumitra Dutta is Professor of Business and Technology, and Dean of External Relations at INSEAD business school

How has business education evolved in recent years to meet market demands? 

Business education is more influenced by practice than ever before. Executive education is the most visible part of this evolution. Today most leading business schools have large volumes of executive teaching which helps to bridge the gap between classical education and business impact. 

Is there enough focus on entrepreneurship in the European education system? 

We need to focus more on entrepreneurship across all of European education. Entrepreneurship education should start in high school and should continue in higher education for all disciplines – not just business education. 

How does Europe compare with the US in terms of cultivating entrepreneurship through education? 

Europe is lagging behind the US in entrepreneurship. However, the US is not significantly better at educating students about entrepreneurship. What the US is better at is in creating an environment which encourages entrepreneurs to take risk and in fostering a culture in which successful entrepreneurs are celebrated as role models. 

What skills do modern business leaders need to compete in the multilingual, transnational business world? 

The world has become more global than ever before and modern business leaders have to be aware of the impact of this change on all aspects of business and culture. Most important of all, business leaders need to have an open mind and be respectful of different business practices, cultures and norms, all without compromising on ethical standards and core values. 

There has been a lot of emphasis on forging closer links between industry and academia. Do you support allowing industry to influence curricula? Is there a danger that this will compromise the independence of universities and third-level schools? 

I fully support allowing industry to influence curricula. The existence of universities and tertiary schools is supported, not threatened by the close links to industry. In fact, the lack of links between industry and universities is the bigger problem. Universities can become ivory towers isolated from reality and that is not good for anyone – most importantly for the students graduating from these schools who seek employment in industry. 

If the EU is to replace the Lisbon Agenda for Growth and Jobs, what role has education to play in making Europe more innovative and competitive? 

Education is vital for making Europe more competitive and innovative. Europe is already quite strong in education – however, the nature of education evolve. Education needs to be linked more to the real world and students need to be encouraged to take their creative ideas and form entrepreneurial ventures as part of the education process. 

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