UTAR pushes the envelope with its students

(From left) Lim Xin Yi, Ong Yong Kang and Acmen Loo – students from the Faculty of Creative Industries (FCI) majoring in Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Game Design – had recently concluded a successful three-month internship at the Metaverse Innovation Base in Fuzhou, China.

A degree with the Faculty of Creative Industries imbues students with adaptability and resilience for the creative industries

AS ONE of Malaysia's leading educational institutions, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) has long been recognised for nurturing exceptional talent, with the Faculty of Creative Industries (FCI) standing out as a degree of choice for aspiring creative professionals.

Whether you're a budding graphic designer, a passionate animator, or an aspiring broadcaster, the FCI's programmes provide you with the knowledge, practical expertise and entrepreneurial mindset needed to thrive in the dynamic world of creative industries.

An attentive faculty

First established in 2008, the FCI offers a diverse range of industry-relevant programmes, from game design and early childhood to animation and broadcasting. UTAR’s KL campus is in Sungai Long, Kajang, a modern township with over 8,000 students.

“We are one of 10 faculties in UTAR where FCI has nine undergraduate programmes. The bulk of the programmes centre around the creative economy and digital economy - be it journalism, corporate communications, graphic design, broadcasting, game development and early childhood education to name a few,” says FCI dean Dr David Tneh Cheng Eng.

In Malaysia, this surge in creativity-driven roles has created a pressing need for tertiary institutions to adapt their offerings, ensuring the next generation of professionals are equipped to thrive in this rapidly evolving landscape.

“We (at the faculty-level) are guided by six educational pillars of UTAR – virtue and morality, knowledge and intellect, physical and mental health, sociality and humanitarianism, aesthetics and harmony, and creativity and innovation,” he said.

Relevance through adaptation

According to Tneh, the job market has undergone a dramatic transformation over the past decade, with more students exploring jobs and careers outside “traditional” white collar jobs.

“We’ve departed from the conventional, mainstream traditional career programmes such as engineering, pharmaceutical and medicine, in favour of more creative and innovative programmes,” he said, emphasising that being practice-led allows the FCI to be more relatable to students.

There are three ways that UTAR ensures FCI programmes address the latest trends and needs of students.

“Our programmes focus on ‘adaptation’ – making sure our programmes are adapted to what is current and relevant. The second is ‘transformative [learning] and exposure’ – not just for the students but also for faculty members. And the third is ‘experiential’,” he added.

Supported by a team of distinguished faculty members with extensive industry experience, the FCI empowers its students to push the boundaries of creativity and innovation.

Tneh emphasised that for the FCI at UTAR, it’s more than equipping students with employable skills, but also helping them to build careers they aspire towards a more fulfilling work life that contributes back to society in general.

“Making a programme relevant and applicable to students requires engagement with all stakeholders. For instance, we regularly invite industry professionals to give lectures and share insights that are tailored to a specific industry such as graphic design or game design.”

Engaging industry professionals also helps UTAR to benchmark their global programmes.

“Besides external examiners, we benchmark our global programmes internationally by engaging with companies and industry advisors whom we also work closely with for students’ final year projects,” he noted, adding that the feedback is then channelled back towards improving FCI’s offerings according to national standards set by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA).

Tneh said that the FCI aims to not only equip students with the proper skills, but to also help them build fulfilling careers that contribute to society.Tneh said that the FCI aims to not only equip students with the proper skills, but to also help them build fulfilling careers that contribute to society.

Future-proofing skillsets

The big question on everyone’s minds right now is: “How does AI (artificial intelligence) affect my job in the future?”

“We’re well-aware of AI and AI-assisted tools like Sora and ChatGPT. We take a dual approach by allowing students to explore these emerging technologies and giving them guidance. While we encourage exploration, we do also emphasise the importance of ethics, especially for the younger individuals.

“Through exposure, experience and adaptation, we expose our students to these tools as a complement to their skills,” noted Tneh.

“Due to the nature of FCI programmes, we always look at the learninPictured is the FCI Corporate Communications, Media and Creative Studies and Broadcasting programmes’ students participating in a live radio exercise in UTAR's radio lab where 988's DJ Anson joined in for one of the sessions.Pictured is the FCI Corporate Communications, Media and Creative Studies and Broadcasting programmes’ students participating in a live radio exercise in UTAR's radio lab where 988's DJ Anson joined in for one of the sessions.g experience outside of the classroom walls, making it more experiential through field trips and giving them a chance to see the work of others in a live setting,” he added.

This approach to future-proofing their FCI students and alumni has allowed its students to gain international and national recognition for their works.

For instance, UTAR FCI alumni Quek Shio Chuan holds a Bachelor of Communication (Honours) in Broadcasting and has produced numerous Petronas and Tenaga Nasional advertisements. He was also the director of the award-winning Malaysian movie ‘Guang’.

Graphic Design and Multimedia students Hoh Sheng Yue and Sheanne Chin design were selected among thousands of entries in this year’s “Dragon on Tour Global Celebration of the Lunar New Year” and exhibited at the UN Office in China. Meanwhile, Early Childhood Education alumni Johnson Lai and Yuni Koh are now budding entrepreneurs who creating innovative educational toys that are sold in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.

Digital Animation alumni Danny Tse who was the world champion in the Adobe Certified Professional World Championship 2021, beating 65,000 contestants worldwide and winning USD7,500.

FCI’s journalism in Chinese Media alumni, Ong Ai Jia secured second place at the IVC 2023 for “Urban Storytelling: Communicating Sustainable Practices in Modern Cities” and FCI’s Game Design and Game Development students have won numerous national competitions such as the Aswara XR Jam 2023 and runners up at the Magic Rain SEA India Jam.

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