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UniRazak's Aim - 'Quality Employer-preferred Grads'

Last update: 28/01/2010
By Sakina Mohamed

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 28 (Bernama) -- Sensing the nation's need for quality graduates in many fields, Universiti Tun Abdul Razak (UniRazak) has undergone restructuring and rebranding to become a boutique institution of higher learning.

UniRazak President and Vice Chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Md Zabid Abdul Rashid said this is to meet the demand for quality human capital particularly in managerial leadership, entrepreneurship and civil service.

UniRazak, formerly known as Unitar, was established in 1998 under KUB Malaysia Bhd. Until 2001, it was a virtual university before moving to a hybrid learning method which combined virtual and physical classes with online learning tools.

However, student admissions dwindled by 2006 and it was acquired for RM45 million by the Tun Abdul Razak Education Foundation (Yayasan Pintar) in 2007.

"Reengineering UniRazak to become a boutique university is one of the main objectives of the Tun Abdul Razak Education Foundation when it took over on March 1st 2007," Prof Md Zabid told Bernama in an interview here recently.

BOUTIQUE UNIVERSITY

"When we talk of a boutique university, we are referring to a small institution that focuses on certain areas of studies," said Prof Md Zabid.

Attention is on offering high quality education and curriculum, with focus on niche areas of studies that can support the growth and development of human capital in the country.

"We are one of those universities which offer specific programmes according to the needs of the industry and public sector.

"But more importantly, by becoming boutique, we will be able to produce quality graduates that will be preferred by employers while at the same time ensure that the programmes we offer have international recognition and accreditation," he said.

Prof Md Zabid said by going boutique, the university is only admitting a small number of students to ensure that the quality of graduates meet expectations of the industries in this country.

LOCATED IN THE HEART OF THE CITY

UniRazak's has two campuses, the Pintar Campus in Kelana Jaya and the Razak Campus located at Capital Square, Jalan Munshi Abdullah in Kuala Lumpur.

When asked why the new campus was set up in the heart of the city, Prof Md Zabid replied:

"Being a university that offers programmes that is very much related to the needs of the industry, it is therefore appropriate that we locate ourselves in the city centre. However, the Razak campus is meant to be our city campus and not the main one.

"We have plans to build the main campus outside the city that should be ready within three to four years".

The Razak Campus houses the Graduate School of Business, Bank Rakyat School of Entrepreneurship, Razak School of Government, the Graduate School of Business and the Centre for Executive Education (CEE).

The university is one of the first private universities to be awarded a Sirim certification of ISO 9001:2000, indicating it has met the necessary international standards on quality management systems requirements for quality assurance.

The Pintar and Razak campuses currently offer 42 programmes.

COLLABORATION WITH WORLD CLASS UNIVERSITIES

In the bid to provide quality graduates that are employer-preferred, many of UniRazak's schools have strategic alliances with other educational institutions from various countries that are ranked top in the world.

The Bank Rakyat School of Business and Entrepreneurship, for instance, offers courses in entrepreneurial leadership that are developed in collaboration with US-based Babson College, which is ranked number one among all business schools for entrepreneurship for the last 15 years.

The school, which receives financial support from Bank Rakyat Malaysia, provides extensive education, support and training to the next generation of business pioneers.

Meanwhile, its Graduate School of Business offers Masters and doctorate programmes conducted in collaboration with five other European universities.

"This is the only programe of its kind in Asia. Students in Malaysia can opt to study here or in Germany, Spain, UK, Russia or US.

"At the end of the day they will be given credit transfers, recognition, and awarded degrees from respective institutions," said Prof Md Zabid.

He said courses offered under the school include MBA in Entrepreneurship and MBA in Global Islamic Finances, where students can opt to do their first semester in one of the countries and the following in a partner institution at another country of choice.

"It's up to the students to choose, as each of the partner university will specialise in something in particular," he said.

DEVELOPING NEW KINDS OF ENTREPRENEURS

Prof Md Zabid said an important area of focus for UniRazak in meeting the needs and demands of the industry is to develop new entrepreneurs, whom of which would be trained through programmes under its Bank Rakyat School of Entrepreneurship.

"There is a lack of quality leaders in the local industries. If Malaysia is to progress into the innovation age, we need quality managers who can develop companies so the companies can leapfrog into greater heights and at the same time help us improve our national income," he said.

He said the government has a positive policy towards developing entrepreneurs in the last 40 years. Unfortunately, many limit the term entrepreneurship to just the act of starting a small business and were discouraged to explore it further.

"Entrepreneurship is not just about starting new enterprises or small business, it's also about changing attitude and mindset about new ways of identifying opportunities.

"Today we hear people talking about corporate entrepreneurship. This actually means proactive attitudes among leaders of the industry, towards finding newer and more creative ways of growing and expanding their businesses," he explained.

Prof Md Zabid said there is also another kind of entrepreneurship that benefits a community as a whole - social entrepreneurship.

"We are interested in developing social entrepreneurship values among Malaysian community. We'd like to see how social problems could be converted into new opportunities for people to do business and at the same time solving the problem."

HONING SKILLS FOR JOBS IN CIVIL SERVICE

He said another area of focus is public leadership, where students under the Razak School of Government will be trained for a career in the civil service.

"Today, public service delivery is very important. There are complaints of certain sectors in the public service that is not providing efficient delivery.

This programme is created after discussion with various public service departments on the expectations and requirements needed to produce good graduates for the civil service," he said.

Prof Md Zabid said for the Masters degree in Public Administration, the university is also collaborating with the Maxwell School of Citizenship Public Affairs of Syracuse University, which ranked number one in the areas of public affairs and public administration.

He said UniRazak is very fortunate to be able to get partners with leading institutions outside the country.

"It is also the objective of the Tun Abdul Razak Education Foundation under the leadership of the Prime Minister himself as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees to see that the university can help in the development of capacity building in the country," he said.

PRODUCING SOUGHT-AFTER GRADUATES

How will UniRazak ensure the employability of its graduates?

"For the time being we're not that worried about the employability of our graduates," said Prof Md Zabid.

"This is because we have developed for our undergraduates programmes that are high in demand in the industry.

"For example the growth of Islamic banking is very high in Malaysia. I was made to understand that the industry requires more than 10,000 people who are trained in Islamic banking. UniRazak is only going to produce at the most 200-300, so we know there will be room for them."

However, the university is more concerned with quality than quantity of its graduates.

Therefore, intakes are small as a class is only intended for between 20 and 30 students.

"We believe with small batches, we can coach and nurture the students, and I think this is very important today," he said.

QUALITY PROGRAMMES FOR CONTINUED GROWTH

It is evident that UniRazak is rapidly establishing itself as a centre for education despite being just over a decade old. And according to Prof Md Zabid, the next few years will see more concentrated efforts in developing more quality programmes.

"We want to make sure our programmes are highly in demand whether in the public sector, private or small and medium enterprises.

"To do this, we have to develop quality human capital and be more creative and innovative in terms of our instructional design and pedagogy," he said.

He said quality academics will entice prospective students with the passion and drive to pursue the career path they have in mind.

"It's not just a place for them to get their degree, but a place for them to think of their career.

"Only with quality human capital we can sustain out competitive edge and leap into higher levels of economic growth so that we can be at least at par with some of the other countries in the region such as Korea and Taiwan."

-- BERNAMA