WHEN Ikram College of Technology was upgraded last month and renamed Kuala Lumpur Infrastructure University College (KLIUC), even Education Ministry officials were sceptical, afraid that the name would put students off.
Explaining the rationale for putting the word “infrastructure” in its name, KLIUC president and chief executive officer Dr Mahadzer Mahmud said: “Although many people advised us to change the name, we wanted to build on our experience as the former Public Works Department research and training institute. Furthermore, infrastructure engineering is our core business and we want to become a specialised university college in this area.”
Dr Mahadzer looks at the term infrastructure in a broad sense. The Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary defines infrastructure as “the basic structures and facilities necessary for a country or an organisation to function efficiently, e.g. buildings, transport, water and energy resources and administrative systems.”
As such, KLIUC is not limiting itself by having only engineering programmes. It offers bachelor programmes in Engineering Materials, Civil, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Technology, Applied Statistics, Information Technology, Accountancy, Business Administration, Industrial Management, Technical Writing and Communication, Corporate Communication and English for Business.
Five schools have been set up – Engineering Infrastructure, Business Infrastructure, IT Infrastructure, Linguistic Infrastructure and Liberal Arts, and Material Science Infrastructure.
With its new status, KLIUC will now award its own diploma and degree courses, while certificate courses will be phased out. Following the practice of other private university colleges, students will still have the option of transferring to a number of overseas institutions. Master's programmes are planned in three years.
All foreign franchised programmes will be phased out in the next two to three years.
Founded in 1998, many were surprised when Ikram was among the group of three private institutions upgraded to university college status last month, overtaking several more established players. (The other two are University College Sedaya International and International University College of Technology Twintech.)
However, KLIUC had several selling points that won the Education Ministry over.
One of them is the multi-disciplinary approach KLIUC is adopting. “It is our intention to produce all-round graduates. We will expose students to various knowledge areas. For example, a student doing business will master IT skills as well, while an engineering student would be familiar with the design, construction, maintenance and management of infrastructure. We believe that the unique nature of our programmes will attract students,” said Dr Mahadzer.
KLIUC courses will be practical in nature and tailored to the requirements of the job market. It will adopt a project-based approach to learning. “We will build on our 30 years of experience in infrastructure development.”
The new president of KLIUC, who was appointed to his post last month, assures students that all KLIUC programmes will be recognised by the National Accreditation Board (LAN) as well as professional bodies.
Another plus point for KLIUC, Dr Mahadzer believed, is the proposed Ikram Research Centre as “R&D will be one of our core activities.”
Unlike other university colleges, some of whom have yet to move into their permanent premises, students who enrol in KLIUC will have the benefit of studying in a large purpose-built, 40ha campus that would rival those of most universities. It is located in Kajang, Selangor, within the Multimedia Super Corridor.
KLIUC has excellent academic and recreational facilities, including well-equipped classrooms, multimedia and professional standard engineering laboratories, an IT centre, a well-stocked library and a multipurpose auditorium.
Its sports and recreation facilities include a soccer field, basketball court, tennis court, netball court, squash court, badminton court, sepak takraw court, jogging track with exercise equipment and gymnasium.
There are two blocks of accommodation that can take 1,100 students.
KLIUC is owned by Ikram Education Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kumpulan Ikram Sdn Bhd, which in turn is a subsidiary of Protasco Bhd, predominantly a road construction company.
Other than its higher education division, the group is also involved in vocational education through a subsidiary.
Dr Mahadzer said KLIUC students will benefit from part-time lecturers who are also industry experts, researchers and consulting practitioners within the Ikram organisation.
Despite having achieved university college status, KLIUC is relatively small, with a student population of 1,500. Dr Mahadzer says the marketing team at the university college must do a good job to boost student numbers to justify the new status.
“We are expecting close to 1,000 more new students by next year. Also, we plan to spend almost RM1mil on our marketing and advertising campaign for branding purposes.”
He said that after its expansion plans are completed, KLIUC will be able to accommodate 10,000 students. Three phases of development, costing RM50mil, are planned and will be completed by 2008.
They include the construction of a four-storey library block in the first phase, an engineering block in the second phase and an academic block under phase three. Also planned are hostel blocks which will provide on-campus accommodation for a further 2,000 students.
A strategy to increase enrolment is to attract more foreign students. To this end, KLIUC has signed a memorandum of understanding with two institutions in China, namely Tongi University in Shanghai and Tianjin Engineering and Technical Institute.
Dr Mahadzer realises it will be tough in the first few years for KLIUC to compete with the big players – both public and private, local and foreign educational institutions.
“That will be normal in the early stage of operations, but I am confident that there will be a demand for our specialised programmes.”
Did you find this article insightful?