THERE are many public universities in Malaysia. Only five of them are research universities – all long established. Universiti Malaysia Pahang is not one of them. We are only 10 years old. But UMP at 10 years, and these research universities at 10 years old are two very different things.
At 10 years old, UMP is already starting commercialisation of research findings, inventions and product innovations, publications in high-impact international journals, and collaborations at the international level. It is not that UMP is better than these older universities; it is that the era we live in demands that we make quantum leaps in development. Instead of growing linearly like a more traditional university, we have to grow exponentially, or risk falling out of the game.
Perhaps all other new universities have to adopt this trajectory in order to stay relevant. I do not believe that universities were serious about strategic planning 30 years ago. UMP is very serious about it.
Our strategic plan is now in its third phase – 2011-2015. The overall plan is simply to position UMP as the university of choice. Our core is engineering and engineering technology, and that is where our focus will remain. We want to be small but impactful.
UMP is a proponent of technical and industry based research. We have chosen the path of applied research, as this is what our developing nation needs. We want to have good industry linkages and recognition within industry. We want to conduct research that will have value and can be applied almost immediately.
Malaysia is going through a very rapid industrialisation process, and UMP wants to be a serious player in this process by providing the talents for this industrialisation, especially in technical areas. This speaks to the university’s heart. UMP started out as a branch campus and then evolved into a technical university college and is now a full-fledged university. Our development is helping spearhead technical education in Malaysia.
But UMP does not just want to churn out ordinary students. Like any university worth its salt, we want to produce outstanding and talented graduates with holistic skills. And we are doing this through competitive, high quality programmes that have good reputations, are benchmarked against the best, are endorsed, and we are also collaborating with international universities that have a deep understanding of industry-based knowledge.
The last phase of our strategic plan, to be initiated after the rest are completed, is to be recognised as an institution with excellent management practices and work culture. This has to do with our administrative process, how we treat our stakeholders, how we handle our students, what our students’ campus experience is like, and so on. This is something we have to work on internally if we want to stand out as a successful organisation.
The university is all about engineering. Engineering is about designing and developing the world. This is how we want to engineer ourselves to reach excellence – through our niche programmes, high quality teaching, impactful applied research, capacity for commercialisation, and our management and work culture.
As a young university, we have a long way to go yet. But with passion and hope, we will get there eventually.