Third Generation Universities

It is only in the recent past that universities or their faculty and students started to bring knowledge to the market, either by transferring it to existing enterprises or by creating new start-ups
Third Generation Universities
Third Generation Universities

There is a global shift in the approach to higher education by launching third-generation universities that play a major role in addressing critical problems by linking industry and the labor market to create jobs alongside education and research.

“Moving toward third-generation universities is inevitable,” said Hussein Vatanpour, director general of health technology at the Health Ministry. He was speaking at the second round of the International Mobile Health Congress in Shiraz, Fars Province, on Wednesday. 

Universities today are undergoing massive change, evolving from science-based, government-funded institutions into ‘international know-how hubs’ dubbed third generation universities, or 3GUs. They play an effective role as incubators of new science or technology-based commercial activities and are active in knowledge exploitation. 

Noting that education has seen great strides over the past decade in the country, Vatanpour said it is high time that the potential of universities be channeled toward improving economic growth rates and fostering entrepreneurship.

Third-generation universities were developed to expand the functional areas from merely conventional study and research to entrepreneurship and cooperation, in order to help tackle economic problems.

The first-generation or medieval universities did not engage in what is now called research. They were solely devoted to teaching, aiming at creating good theologians, lawyers and physicians. As research was seen as the second objective of universities and the second-generation universities evolved, higher education institutions were still not interested in the application of their research findings. They left this to experts and scholars outside of the universities.

It is only in the recent past that universities or their faculty and students started to bring knowledge to the market, either by transferring it to existing enterprises or by creating new firms. Commercialization of know-how became the third objective of top universities, which are now known as third-generation universities.

“Based on the new program, universities are required to train students so that they can create start-ups rather than look for a job after graduation,” says Vatanpour.

Students will learn about knowledge-based organizations and how to promote them. The move is in line with the 20-Year Vision (2005-2025) through which the domestic economy must develop to be knowledge-based rather than dependant on oil revenues.

“Iran is one of the leading countries in training specialized workforce in engineering, ICT and medical fields, and we need to support knowledge-based firms to be able to utilize that workforce to develop technology and healthcare systems,” the official added. 

The Majlis (parliament) has stipulated that 3% of every ministry’s budget should be spent on R&D projects. There is nothing to confirm this legislative ruling is implemented. 

  Mobile Health

The conference aimed to create a platform for exchange of ideas, concepts, techniques, experiments, and applicable programs using communications devices such as mobile phones and computers in promoting health and hygiene.

Keynote speakers were from England, the Netherlands, Australia, Romania, Turkey, Mexico, and Greece, IRNA reported.

A special focus was on eHealth or the use of information and communication technology (ICT) for health.

“Although the incorporation of ICT in healthcare systems and services will not make them fool-proof, it will be a massive stride in that direction,” said Dr. Nick Guldemond, a keynote speaker from the Netherlands.

He cited increased access to patients in distant areas and public hygiene services, more convenience and satisfaction for patients, early and quick diagnosis, as well as curbing red tape as benefits of using ICT in healthcare.

Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, deputy minister of communications and information technology, pointed to use of medication and drugs without a prescription as a disadvantage of cyber space.

“The availability of information on virtual space has become a main challenge in the health sector, which needs to be addressed through channelizing data and managing the existing sources,” he said.

According to Dr Kamran Baqeri, head of the conclave, there are 80 million SIM cards active in Iran, more than 50 million of which are operated via smartphones.

“This immense potential can be tapped to promote healthcare services through ICT, and infrastructure that is already prevalent and familiar for the majority of people,” he noted.

The conference concluded on Thursday.

Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints