HERIOT-Watt University Malaysia played host to the third instalment of the Higher Ministry’s University of Future Seminar series recently.
This year’s event was titled “Education 4.0: The Human Revolution and Future Proofing Our Graduates”.
It featured Prof Dr Mushtak Al-Atabi, the university’s chief executive officer and provost, as the main speaker.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh and the chairmen of various universities’ board of governors were also present.
In his speech, Prof Mushtak shared that the world is currently experiencing its fourth industrial revolution, dubbed the Human Revolution.
“While previous revolutions have created more jobs opportunities for humankind, the present Human Revolution has had the opposite effect, with more jobs being lost to automation and robotics,” he said. This, along with the world population’s increasing life expectancy, has led to an expanding pool of human resources battling it out in a shrinking job market.
“In fact, according to PriceWaterhouseCoopers, 30% of jobs in the United Kingdom could be replaced by automation by the 2030s, with the figures projected to be as high as 38% in the United States,” he said.
Subsequently, depression, anxiety and suicide are on the rise globally, while concurrently, empathy and emotional intelligence rates among the youth are declining.
“This is where Relationship Management and Self Management need to play a key role,” he added.
Prof Mushtak went on to cite a workshop held at a recent Youth Transformation Programme (YTP) by Heriot-Watt University Malaysia as an example of rewiring the brain to learn Self Management. “Students were required to pay RM1 each time they uttered the word ‘problem’ and taught to turn it into an opportunity,” he explained.
The participants had concurred that the YTP helped to transform their mindsets, with many of them deciding to enrol at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia after that.
Among them is Komalah Sevamuthu Raja, who is currently pursuing the university’s Foundation in Business programme.
“The YTP helped me to get a better perspective on life. I learnt that empathy is important in nurturing more positive relationships and environment,” she said.
Her course mate, Sophia Adelina Mohd Faisal, who hopes to earn a degree in Psychology, said: “The most important lesson I learnt from the YTP is that we can be our own best friend.”
“Learning about yourself is a continuous process; the more you grow, the more you can learn about your strengths and weaknesses – and the more you can improve,” she added.
Prof Mushtak then went on to emphasise the importance of prioritising happiness.
“In the United Arab Emirates, there’s even a Minister for Happiness that addresses a national agenda to increase happiness,” he said.
He posed a question: “Should the University of the Future, therefore, take on the role of developing happy, resilient and emotionally intelligent graduates?”
According to Prof Mushtak, this is a necessary step in grooming graduates who are to be professionally relevant and future-proof.
“Among others, the University of the Future should make it its agenda to develop a Happiness Index, with Emotional Intelligence and Happiness being taught under Matapelajaran Umum; align Emotional Intelligence to the Integrated Cumulative Grade Point Average (ICGPA) and ensure that its staff members have similar opportunities to develop their emotional intelligence and happiness,” he elaborated.
Idris thanked the speakers and those in attendance.
He also delivered the closing remarks, saying that “Humanising the Fourth Industrial Revolution is one of the key challenges that will face our education system.”
“Today’s seminar acts as a powerful reminder of the importance emotional and physiological wellbeing for all our students,” he added.
The minister expressed his confidence that this seminar as well as subsequent seminars will place Malaysian higher education on a strong footing in facing the Fourth Industrial Revolution.