GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Higher Education-Industry Linkage in action : A Case Study of Integrated Internship Courses in PNU
Paper Proposal Text :
In the context of developing a knowledge society, which is increasingly recognised as a source of global competitiveness and economic well-being, policy continues to depict higher education (HE) graduates as an elite social and occupational group who fulfil their potential through careers as ‘knowledge workers’. While most universities have made the depiction of human capital development core to their policy agendas, problems still persist with graduates’ quality and relevance in relation to the labour market. In this regard, Holmes (2001) argues that employability should be conceptualised as a form of identity; it is relational, emergent and influenced largely by graduates’ ‘lived experiences’ of the labour market. Within this context, Princess Norah bint AbdulRahman University (PNU) is the only university in Saudi Arabia that offers integrated internship courses (IIC) in all of its fifteen colleges. IIC are integrated into the curricula of all academic programmes in a systematised module that determines exactly how real and positive university-industry interface can occur within the education system.
This paper focuses on this university-industry linkage; more specifically, it focuses on the importance it is given in university policies and structures, on the way it is managed and on its ability to facilitate collaboration that aims to prepare students for work life. This paper focuses on the following research questions:
1. What initiatives, policy instruments and approaches applied at PNU in building university-industry linkage?
2. How are IICs integrated into the academic curricula at PNU? How does interaction between HE and industry occur? How does the emergence of public/private partnerships contribute and support achieving the university-industry linkage?
3. How does this interaction help students make the transition from HE to the labour market (i.e. constructing, understanding and beginning to manage their employability)? How does this interaction benefit educational programme designers when creating programmes that best fulfil a knowledge society’s needs?
The theoretical framework guiding this investigation is based on prior literature on collaborative relationships between HE and private and public organisations (Abreu et al., 2009; Bishop et al., 2011; Ramos-Vielba and Fernandez-Esquinas, 2012). This ongoing study draws upon a qualitative and a quantitative study of 82 final year undergraduates at PNU and is complemented by interviews with stakeholders and programme designers. A set of hypotheses about IICs and labour market collaboration was formulated and tested. The outcome has remarkable implications for current HE policy makers and the labour market in Saudi Arabia.

Abreu, M. et al. (2009) Knowledge exchange between academics and the business, public and third sectors. UK Innovation Research Centre: Cambridge University.
Bishop, K., D’Este, P. and Neely, A. (2011) ‘Gaining from interactions with universities: multiple methods for nurturing absorptive capacity’, Research Policy, 40, pp. 30-40.
Holmes, L. (2001) ‘Reconsidering graduate employability: the graduate identity approach’, Quality in Higher Education, 7(2), pp. 111-119.
Ministry of Economy and Planning. Saudi Arabia (2012). National strategy for the transition to a knowledge society. Available at: (Acessed:25 December 2013)
Ramos-Vielba, I. and Fernandez-Esquinas, M. (2012) ‘Beneath the tip of the iceberg: exploring the multiple forms of university-industry linkages’, Higher Education, 64(2-22).