THE latest QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021 cemented Taylor’s University’s position as the highest Malaysian institution in the subject rankings, as it ranked 17th in the Hospitality and Leisure Management subject.
Retaining its top 20 in the world position for the third year in a row, the university is considered to be one of the most globally influential institutions in the subject alongside Ecole Hotellerie de Lausanne in Switzerland, University of Nevada in Las Vegas and Netherlands’ Hotel School de Hague.
The university also maintained its top private business school position in Malaysia. Notably, the institution jumped over 50 ranks to break into the top 150 universities in the world for the Business and Management subject, coming in second nationally right behind Malaysia’s top public university.
This news comes on the back of sterling achievements in the past year, as Taylor’s was recognised as the top private university in Malaysia and South-East Asia and ranked 89th in Asia according to the QS World University Rankings 2021 and QS Asia University Rankings 2021 respectively.
The institution also broke into the QS Top 50 Under 50 2021, making it the only Malaysian private university to be ranked in the top 50.
Taylor’s University vice chancellor and president Prof Michael Driscoll believes that the university’s strategy of curriculum innovation and nimble response to the evolving education landscape has ensured its consistent success in this area.
“We recognise that the pandemic has changed the playing field for universities and their graduates very rapidly, and Taylor’s University has pivoted quickly to provide innovative borderless learning experiences and equip students with the knowledge, tools, life skills and networks to ensure our graduates are work-ready when they step out.
“Radical reforms to our curriculum that ensure students gain an entrepreneurship mindset and interdisciplinary exposure are bearing fruit – 99% of our graduates were employed within six months in 2020, according to the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) Tracer Study.
“Our extensive collaborations with industry and employer partners, both locally and internationally, signal a trust in the university and their willingness to invest in the capability of our graduates, ” said Prof Driscoll.
Ecosystem of creativity
These curriculum innovations and reforms the university has pursued include a carefully curated “Taylor’sphere” ecosystem with the aim to nurture students’ intellectual, mental and emotional growth in an atmosphere of creativity and collaboration.
In the ecosystem, students will have the benefit of attending life skills modules conducted by specialised trainers, work on real-life industry projects, attend their classes in hybrid mode, and mix and match their subjects for broad-based learning, among others.
Notably, every student will also take up a social innovation module to find solutions to real-world problems, have the opportunity to realise their entrepreneurial dreams, and receive guidance with ideation, prototyping, funding and product commercialisation under the mentorship of Taylor’s Me.reka Makerspace (TMM), BizPod and Research & Enterprise.
Final-year students also pursue cross-faculty projects and will be able to utilise labs or studios across the university irrespective of the students’ programmes, mimicking the collaborative way of working across departments in the industry.
Such an ecosystem proved invaluable for Taylor’s alumni Julius Ho Joon Tat, who was a budding entrepreneur in university and graduated with a Bachelor of Computer Science (Honours).
Julius, along with his partner James Lau Jun De, observed that parking is a common issue for Malaysian drivers, and harnessed their passion for artificial intelligence (AI) to build a smart-parking solution called Arrivo that employs licence plate recognition.
To get their idea off the ground, the pair sought advice from Taylor’s own start-up accelerator and incubator, BizPod – which provides students a fully equipped central workspace, seed funding opportunities, mentoring, and training free of charge.
“Before we approached BizPod, we struggled to find our business model and product market fit. The industry was bigger than we anticipated and did not know where to start.
“So we approached Jessie (director of BizPod), who graciously agreed to be our mentor. Under her mentorship, we saw a drastic change in our business growth in a few short months. We had access to potential investors, and she helped share available grants with us to continue building our business, ” said Julius.
Launched in 2019, Arrivo is looking to begin its seed funding round in Q2 of this year, with the company estimated at RM8mil in value.
BizPod serves as a sounding board and provides mentorship to students to shorten their learning curve in terms of business and operational matters.
Students will receive guidance from mentors who have foresight based on real experiences, to bring their business ideas to fruition.
Currently, BizPod leverages on the Taylor’s Business School’s (TBS) strong connections and networks, and is actively mentoring eight different businesses. BizPod monitors their progress weekly, and if required, will assign different mentors to these businesses based on experience and domain expertise.
Business and Law Faculty executive dean Prof Dr Khong Kok Wei believes that Taylor’s University has found a key insight into ensuring its graduates are successful despite the pandemic – an entrepreneurial mindset, which the institution as well as TBS is pushing to the fore.
In the current economic climate, he believes that more graduates will have to consider setting up their own businesses.
According to the MOHE Tracer Study 2020, Taylor’s graduates in 2020 who were self-employed or started their own businesses nearly doubled in number, compared to graduates in 2019.
Lauding the Business School’s achievements in the latest QS rankings, Prof Khong is optimistic that the school’s graduates are well prepared for the job market.
“I believe it is essential for graduates of any field to think like an entrepreneur, ” he said.
“Skills such as strategic and critical thinking, seeking and leveraging opportunities, analysing risk, as well as finding your own niche and solutions to existing problems are all transferable traits that will help you in any career you pursue.
“The advantage of the Taylors’phere ecosystem is that students can experiment within the safety net of the university itself and we’re immensely fulfilled whenever our students see their dreams become reality.
“The latest QS rankings affirm that we are going in the right direction, ” said Prof Khong.