Public universities should be proactive, source additional income, bank on research, says Idris

By ZAHRATULHAYAT MAT ARIF - 11 January 2017 @ 5:42 PM

SERI ISKANDAR: Alumni of public universities have been urged to contribute to their respective universities, and help their alma mater generate ‘side incomes’ instead of being dependent on the government for funding.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said following the budget cuts from the government, universities now shoulder the responsibility to generate their own income.

He added even though it may seem challenging, there are several steps which universities can adopt to reduce expenses.

“In order to become more efficient, we can’t be impetuous and complacent on this,” he said at a press conference after opening the Research and Development building at Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) here yesterday.

Citing an example, Idris said there were 600,000 alumni from Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) and if each of them could contribute RM1,000, the university would receive a lot.

“Why don’t we do this? Besides that, (universities) still have a lot of assets, rooms and infrastructure that have yet to be (fully) utilised. All of this can (help) generate income. Researchers can also offer consultancy services.

“At the beginning, we may feel the pinch but we need to get out of our ‘comfort zone’. Who wouldn’t be sad when the budget was cut? However, it is time for you to understand.

“This is not a new thing and universities need to handle their finances efficiently and wisely in order to be a sustainable higher institution in the long-term.”

Idris said by the year of 2020, the dependency on the government would decrease to only 70 per cent.

“We (are) aiming for it. This is (still) considered much too high compared with other universities abroad, where most of the dependency on the government is only 45 per cent. This is a fact that we have to face.”

The UTP Research and Development building is the university’s testament and commitment to spur quality research and new innovations.

With an investment of almost RM100 million, the two-block building is intended to be a catalyst and to encourage interactions between UTP and industry players.

It will also encourage UTP’s researchers to conduct world-class research and churn out findings that will be integral to the nation’s research and innovation agenda.

The building is four-storey high with a total floor area of 2.12 ha. It holds 65 laboratories and offices, and can accommodate up to 550 researchers and staff at any one time.

Mechanical Engineering postgraduate student Mohamad Nazmi Zaidi Moni, 32, said the new building would enable him to focus more on his Biomass Energy research.

“Previously, we had to share a building and equipment with the undergraduate students. There were times when we had to wait a long time just to use the equipment.

“But now, since we have our own building, we can give extra attention to our research as this building is technically opened 24 hours.

“We are allowed to stay on even after 5pm, and as some of us work better at night, we are able to conduct experiments without any interferences,” he said.

Also present at the launch were UTP pro-chancellor Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan, who is also Petronas chairman; Institute of Technology Petronas Sdn Bhd chairman Datuk Raiha Azni Abd Rahman; and UTP vice-chancellor and chief executive officer Datuk Ir (Dr) Abdul Rahim Hashim.

The Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) Research and Development building is the university’s testament and commitment to spur quality research and new innovations. BERNAMA Photo.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh officiates the launch of the new Research and Development building at Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) Petronas (UTP) in conjunction with UTP’s 20th anniversary. Also present were UTP vice-chancellor and chief executive officer Datuk Ir (Dr) Abdul Rahim Hashim (right), and pro-chancellor Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan (second from right). NSTP Photo by MUHAIZAN YAHYA.