The role of Institutions of Higher Education in the Geospatial Industry

The Institutions of higher learning have a key role in ensuring the economic development of a country. In the past few years, we’ve had an increased number of graduates from different institutions of higher learning and different fields of specialization. Some fields register a higher number of individuals depending on the institution and this is much expected.  Over the years, the number of professionals in the industry has skyrocketed. The availability and accessibility of the institutions of higher learning, colleges and Universities, has enabled more students to get their entries to GIS, Survey and Remote Sensing related courses compared to the old days. The current trends in the industry, for example, awareness, has also contributed to the “liking” of the Geospatial related courses.

Looking at the programmes offered in the institutions of higher learning, the courses are structured to mold a competent and well-versed graduate by the time they complete their programme.The courses themselves are incremental in terms of building knowledge among the students. With the introduction of new programmes in different institutions, the course structures differ but all in all they add up by the end of the course. Someone might argue that some institutions are better compared to others, but, well, that a topic for another day. The institutions have revised the curriculum so as to keep the pace with the current trends in the industry.

As earlier said, these institutions contribute much to the growth of our economies in quite a number of ways. The products from these institutions run a specific area in the economy hence contributing to the national development. These institutions have the role of preparing the students for their future roles in the industry through training, guidance and instructing on the way forward. Investing in education leads to improved incomes and livelihoods. This is of course when combined with other industry factors that play a key role in ensuring sustainability. Every industry has its technical and technical bits and thus, the Geospatial field is not an exception. The training in universities and colleges should prepare a student for the industry. However, there exist a huge gap between these institutions and the industry. We all know how fast the industry is changing in terms of technology.

We all know how fast the industry is changing in terms of technology, capacity and processes. This is something that the institutions of higher learning should focus on. A number of institutions have really tried to cope up with this, which is an advantage to their students. A good example is the use of GIS software and equipment. Often, the software versions and type used back in these institutions do not match the ones in the industry. This is a problem to the students as they are forced to start all over again in learning a new software or equipment to fit in their job places. With the help of for example, the Esri Educational Site License Program, students are able to keep up with the pace and innovate well enough to provide solutions in their communities. The growth of the FOSS4G has also enabled users to keep up with the trends by receiving updates on new tools and software.  This is the same for the equipment used in this field. This kind of an environment can be enabled through partnerships between these institutions and the industry. This will ensure a whole new level of transformation towards achieving its roles.

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The emergence of the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) has ensured students and users can learn about various fields anywhere and at any time.MOOCs have attracted big numbers over the past few years and are still an option to many. This may sound as a threat to the institutions of higher learning, as many people avoid institutions but, thinking it from a positive side of it, it’s a great benefit.  MOOCs face accreditation issue but institutions of higher learning are well trusted for this. Combining the two will be a big boost for the institutions. With the availability of the Internet, our institutions should come up with ways to utilize this kind of education system. We are in an era where emphasis on the quality of education is much important that the quantity of information they get.

Every course in GIS or any related field has a practical session in which students are mentored and trained to improve capacity in the featured field. These sessions form a basis for use and upscale of available solutions for future use.  Through university mentorship programs, students are able to interact with the industry, gain knowledge and come up with ideas for their final year project, for example, that ends up solving problems in our industry.

Universities provide opportunities for innovation among students by creating ample environments for building, testing and packaging solutions that are later used in the industry. This kind of facilitation is required more than ever so as to ensure improvements within the industry. The achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, will rely mostly on what our professionals from different fields will deliver. We require quality and sustainable education systems to achieve this. Geography finds its use in almost all fields that exist today and thus is a key player in the achievement of the SDGs.

There are a number of ways of bridging the gap between our institutions and the industry. This post explains just a few ways to do this.

What do you think about the institutions of higher learning in the Geospatial industry? Leave a comment below.


Wanjohi Kibui
About Wanjohi Kibui 23 Articles
A GIS Developer, Consultant and Author.Passionate about Geospatial technologies. To read more about his work, visit Access video Tutorials on YouTube