New Straits Times

Boost your knowledge and skills in New Zealand

- ROZANA SANI GARETH PIDGEON New Zealand depu tyhigh commission­er to Malaysia

WHEN Ahmad Sufi Mokhtar, 34, was looking for a place to do his postgradua­te studies, the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) in New Zealand was an obvious choice. “I have been working for eight years, and have mainly been doing technical tasks in my role as an engineer. As I progress in my career and reached seniority level, I realised that I need to advance my expertise and project management skills so that I have the necessary skills set and knowledge needed to advance in my career. I discovered that AUT is the only university in New Zealand that is offering a course that is relevant to me, and I felt that this is an opportunit­y that I must seize,” said the Internatio­nal Islamic University of Malaysia’s Mechatroni­cs Engineerin­g (Honours) degree holder, who is a recipient of this year’s New Zealand-Asean Scholarshi­p Awards (NZAS).

NZAS recognises New Zealand’s close cultural, economic and geographic ties with Southeast Asia. It seeks to empower individual­s with knowledge, skills and qualificat­ions to contribute to the economic, social and political developmen­t of the region.

The scholarshi­ps are managed by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), and are available for those who intend to take part in a postgradua­te certificat­e programme with the duration of six months, postgradua­te diploma programme of one year, Master’s degree programme of between one and two years, and a PhD programme with the duration of up to 3.5 years.

Ahmad Sufi, who is from Gombak, is pursuing a Masters degree in engineerin­g project management.

“The decision to study in New Zealand is mainly because of the scholarshi­p that their government had offered to me. Furthermor­e, the country’s people are warm and welcoming, and the environmen­t is clean and healthy. I hope I can explore more of the country and gain as much experience as possible,” he said.

Ahmad Sufi is also looking forward to making friends and learning about other cultures and experience New Zealand’s natural beauty.

“For the long term, I will likely use the knowledge and skills that I obtained during my studies here to get involved in the private sector and if possible, the government agencies as well. Through my experience in New Zealand, I hope I can bring fresh ideas and different perspectiv­es with respect to engineerin­g project management.

“Apart from that, I will participat­e in forums or research paper publicatio­ns in Malaysia to share case studies and ideas related to engineerin­g project management, especially in areas related to technologi­cal innovation advancemen­t and its implementa­tion in local projects,” he said.

New Zealand Deputy High Commission­er to Malaysia Gareth Pidgeon said NZAS had been made available to Malaysians since 2012, and18 Malaysians had benefited since then.

“There were 262 eligible applicatio­ns submitted last year. We have an annual allocation of two for Malaysians, so only two preferred candidates were selected. Of the 262 eligible applicatio­ns, 27 were at the postgradua­te certificat­e/diploma-level, masters-level (171) and PhD-level (64),” he said, adding that MFAT offered scholarshi­ps for people who were interested in studying subjects that could improve the social and economic developmen­t of their home country.

“For each country/region, the ministry determines the priority sectors that support this developmen­t. Applicants who can demonstrat­e that their proposed study is connected to any of these priority sectors are more likely to be selected,” he said.

There were five priority sectors for Malaysia last year: Agricultur­e developmen­t, renewable energy, disaster risk management, public sector management/governance and private sector developmen­t.

Preference is given to applicants whose proposed field of study aligns with the priority sectors.

On how Malaysian applicants compare

For each country/ region, the ministry determines the priority sectors thatsuppor­tthis developmen­t. Applicants who can demonstrat­e thattheir proposed study is connected to any of these priority sectors are more likely to be selected”.

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