Varsity, industry united in goals
THE story of Universiti Tun Abdul Razak’s (UNIRAZAK) partnership with the industry began a few years ago, when UNIRAZAK was asked to become an institution that can fulfil three basic areas of concern.
The first is to become a university that is different from existing public universities; secondly, to be different from existing private universities; and thirdly, to become an institution that can play an effective role in supplying human resources that meet the needs of the country in nation building.
UNIRAZAK president and vice-chancellor Datuk Seri Dr Md Zabid Abdul Rashid, in his talk, entitled Funding the Future: A Partnership Story between Academic and Industry, said in realising such ambition, the university has to become creative, innovative, entrepreneurial, and play a leading role in embarking on a unique value proposition that is most critical, effective and impactful in terms of human capital developement.
Therefore, he added, the university had to strategise its positioning differently from existing tertiary institutions, but more importantly, understand the needs of the industry or market forces.
“To effectuate such action, we had to meet various people from the industry and listen to their views, complaints and suggestions, that can help in the nation building role and responsibilities.
“We had no choice but to consider potential options that are different and impactful to the needs of the industry and potential capacity and capability building of human potential,” said Md Zabid,
UNIRAZAK realised the role of universities today is changing to cope with the fast growing socioeconomic landscape.
He said universities are, therefore, not only knowledge developers or storage houses but also play a key role in talent development.
The former was concerned with research and publications, while the latter leaned towards teaching and learning.
“The outcome of such would be seen as ‘value creation’ to the recipient or deliverables. The next challenge is whether to focus towards masses or ‘niche’ market.
“Thus, the role of universities today is expected to change from the passive and reactive towards a proactive perspective.
Universities are not seen as institutions that provide learning or knowledge creation and are obliged to disseminate such ideas, or discharge the universal knowledge in a responsible manner, but are expected to provide a responsive mode towards the universal need for knowledge and ideas,” he said.
Md Zabid was one of the speakers at the Network of Islamic Finance Training Institutes (NIFTI) South East and Pacific Regional 2017 event held recently.
Themed Discovering the Transformative trends in Islamic Finance Industry, the half-day intellectual discourse was attended by more than 40 of NIFTI affiliates across the region.
He said the university also realised the need to play a more strategic role in the universityindustry interface.
“Gone are the days when universities focus on what they are good in without much concern for the needs of the industry.
“The ‘dream world’ of universities have passed and there is a need to make universities the star — that is, constant interaction between university and industry in terms of teaching and learning, curriculum development, and research and consultancy.
“In making an effective partnership between university and industry, it is important to change the attitude towards the world of curriculum development.
“This implies the world of ‘theory’ and ‘practice’ must not be operated in silos or in their respective world of their own but ‘integrated’ as one, whereby incorporating business theories with interactive hands on applications, through experiential learning, simulations, case study workshops and labs or focus group discussions or roundtables.
“The engagement between academics and practitioners need to be embedded as an ‘integral one’, having similar objectives, goals and orientations,” said Md Zabid.
Realising such needs and demand UNIRAZAK embarked on its pioneering collaboration with a professional body in accounting in 2010.
That marked the early milestones of the university-industry collaboration which is highly valued today.
“Following that collaboration, we realised the importance of the partnership between university and industry. Subsequently, we also observed the role played by the financial services industry in Malaysia.
“In particular, the increasing importance of Islamic finance in Malaysia has been the key factor on how to play a more proactive role in promoting the development of professionally qualified and competent experts,” he said.
UNIRAZAK president and vice-chancellor
UNIRAZAK president and vice-chancellor Datuk Seri Dr Md Zabid Abdul Rashid (front, left) exchanging documents with Islamic Banking and Finance Institute of Malaysia chief executive officer Yusry Yusoff (front, right) during the signing of the memoranda of agreement and understanding with 10 academic partners and IBFIM.