KUANTAN: Seventeen years after opening its doors, Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP) is now positioned as one of the leading universities in the country to offer high-level Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programmes.
UMP vice-chancellor Prof Ir Dr Wan Azhar Wan Yusoff believed TVET would become more important than ever in a fast changing world.
He said this was evident with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad outlining the agenda to empower TVET in the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030.
“As one of the Malaysian Technical University Network (MTUN) universities, UMP will lead the way as a pinnacle institution for TVET by offering high-level programmes.
“So what is the advantage of TVET when compared to traditional programmes of science and engineering?
“TVET gives a higher return because the skills that the students learn are more lifelong compared to theoretical studies. For example, learning skills to build machines are usually more permanent compared to knowledge of how machine works, ” he said in an interview in conjunction with UMP’s 14th convocation.
Prof Wan Azhar added that with the world moving towards Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR 4.0), many jobs would not exist in the future due to automation.
He said as such, the workforce of the future must be knowledge-based for not only the application but to manage and maintain technology as well.
“TVET will fit this new transformation compared to theoretical studies which may not come into use immediately. In terms of the workforce pyramid, we in fact need more technologists than scientists, engineers and philosophers, ” said Prof Wan Azhar.
He said the role of UMP in this is to produce graduates with the ability to increase the technical capability of the nation.
“Our country’s technical capabilities can be increased through the MTUN universities. Don’t hope for our university to win the Nobel Prize because we run on a different model.
“The public must also have the right expectations when viewing TVET programmes. Our students do not necessarily have to be scholarly but they are highly capable to drive industries, ” he said.
To this end, UMP was committed to innovation and uniqueness in offering academic programmes through international strategic partnerships, said Prof Wan Azhar.
“Nowadays educational paradigms need to be revisited and focus on areas that need rethinking in today’s new world of fast-changing technology and information overload, ” he said.
Currently, UMP and the Higher Education Department organised a forum aimed to bring together practitioners, researchers and field experts to discuss MOOC quality issues and challenges in the 21st century of e-learning landscape.
A recent achievement saw UMP listed in the #301-500 position in QS Graduate Employability 2020 by taking into account employer reputation, alumni outcomes, partnerships with employers, employer-students connection and graduate employability rate.
For the partnership with employer criterion, UMP was ranked #71 in the world and sat at #1 in Malaysia.
To prepare for the big shift, Prof Wan Azhar said UMP itself would be transformed into a social enterprise in the coming years.
“Malaysian universities must transform into this model. We have to start generating income and create endowments.
“When we have our own grant and funding, we can then become less and less dependant on the Government. After that we can ask for more autonomy, ” he said in explaining his vision for UMP.
Prof Wan Azhar also said UMP was cooperating with the East Coast Economic Region’s Asia Centre of Excellence for Smart Technologies (ACES) in fields related to IR 4.0, smart technology and digital initiatives involving human resource development activities.
Based on this cooperation, several projects would be implemented, such as the commercialisation of products, executive programmes 4.0 as well as technical and vocational training programmes.
ACES is a collaborative centre between the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC) and Technical University Munich International GmbH Germany in connecting government agencies with industries and universities to enhance skills, smart technology training and consultations mainly related to digitisation and automation in IR 4.0.
“UMP will continue to advance as a global player to achieve its mission and vision. We are on the best footing as an MTUN university in empowering TVET in this country.
“The university will continue to improve its performance and best practices for strengthening education, research and world-class services in a more creative and innovative engineering and technology ecosystem that can benefit the people of this country, ” said Prof Wan Azhar.
Up to 3,782 students would be graduating on Nov 16 and 17 in UMP’s 14th convocation.
The event would be graced by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, who is the UMP chancellor.