USING STUDENTS INDUSTRIAL WORK EXPERIENCE SCHEME TO ACHIEVE VIABLE UNIVERSITY-INDUSTRY COOPERATION IN NIGERIA – A CASE STUDY OF COVENANT UNIVERSITY, NIGERIA
Researchers affirm university-industry cooperation (UIC) means innovation cooperation between enterprises and universities, or between enterprises and scientific research institutes where the cooperation transfers tangible technical results or intangible technical knowledge from university to industry. UIC takes the form of mentoring, jointly supervised students projects and placements, consulting and training, as well as support in careers and recruitment. UIC has strategic importance as it brings opportunities for universities to improve the sharing of research results, intellectual property rights, patents and licences. Researchers equally identify the main obstacles to university-industry cooperation as: conservatism and rigidness of the academic system, insufficient communication between the parties and detachment of academia from practice, closed corporate culture of businesses, and differing attitude of the parties to knowledge. The Federal Government of Nigeria’s Decree No. 47 of 8th Oct; 1971 as amended in 1990 led to the establishment of Industrial Training Fund (ITF) in 1973/1974. The growing concern among industrialists that graduates of institutions of higher learning in Nigeria lack adequate practical background studies preparatory for employment in industries led to the formation of Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) by ITF in 1993/1994. ITF has as one of its key functions to work as cooperative entity with industry and commerce where students in institutions of higher learning can undertake mid-career work experience attachment in industries which are compatible with students area of study. Covenant University (Nigeria) (CU), a private university opened October 21, 2002, is committed to raising a generation of leaders to solve African problems.
This paper presents how SIWES has fared as a veritable bridge to achieve university-industry cooperation in Covenant University, Nigeria.
In Nigeria, a Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) was designed to acquaint students with the industry while still undergoing academic training with the sole aim of preparing them for industrial challenges of the future. Covenant University has increased the relevance of education and training programmes through placements of students and researchers in business. Since 2005, CU has been getting students participate in SIWES. 830 students in 2010, 1037 in 2011, 932 in 2012, and 1085 in 2013 participated in SIWES from Covenant University. Each CU student was mandated to dedicate a chapter of his/her SIWES Technical Report to the needs and challenges of place of assignment to facilitate rendering of services to community and make Covenant University be part of the solution to societal challenges. Visiting SIWES students by CU faculty has endeared industry leaders to partner with her for viable university-industry cooperation.
In the three decades of its existence, the ITF has not only raised training consciousness in the economy, but has also helped in generating a corps of skilled indigenous manpower which has been manning and managing various sectors of the national economy. CU students while on SIWES had picked their Final Year Project topics to address the industry’s challenges. Records showed that some of the students were employed post-graduation. To improve on the scheme’s implementation, students should be placed in industries relevant to their fields of study.