Dr Ian Kenny (left), UiTM deputy vice-chancellor (academic and international) Professor Dr Mohamad Kamal Harun (second from left) and UiTM student Daarin Nadia Nordin (third from left) and her parents, Norazilamazni Yusoff and Nordin Hamzah at the memorandum of agreement signing ceremony at UiTM Shah Alam.NSTP/OWEE AH CHUN

Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) and the University of Birmingham recently inked a memorandum of agreement (MoA) to mark the start of a strategic partnership between the two varsities.

Through this collaboration, the UiTM Computer and Mathematical Sciences Faculty is introducing the Bachelor of Computer Science (Honours) Dual Degree Programme with the University of Birmingham.

Students will spend three semesters in UiTM and another four semesters in the United Kingdom.

There are three main requirements for students to apply to this programme, said UiTM Computer and Mathematical Sciences Faculty senior lecturer Dr Marshima Mohd Rosli.

“Firstly, they need to have an A in all technical subjects such as Math, Physics and Additional Mathematics in Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM).

“They have to score a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 3.0 and above in their degree programme in UiTM. They must achieve, at the minimum, a Band 6 score in the International English Language Testing System.”

UiTM student Daarin Nadia Nordin, 21, who scored a CGPA of 3.80, was the first student selected for the dual degree programme. This partnership will see her receiving a 20 per cent scholarship for tuition fees from the University of Birmingham.

Daarin Nadia said: “When I first heard that my application was accepted, I was thrilled. It is not everyday that I’m given this opportunity.

“Getting a dual degree is an advantage for my career prospects and my future. It also provides me with a golden opportunity to expose myself to the world.”

Having completed the International General Certificate of Secondary Education and SPM at MRSM Tun Abdul Razak in Pekan, Pahang, Daarin Nadia initially aspired to be a doctor.

“When I was in Form Three, I was really interested in Biology, which made me think of taking up medicine. But while I was completing my foundation in UiTM, I realised that it wasn’t my true passion. At that time, I was clueless about what to study for my degree.”

Both of her parents, who graduated in computer science in UiTM, encouraged her to try and take up the degree programme.

Daarin Nadia said: “The more I learnt, the more I became interested. Computer science is about logical thinking and mathematics and I realised that I’ve always been more inclined towards these areas.

“At one point, I thought to myself, ‘This is what I’m passionate about’. This is what I really wanted to do.”

Passing her first semester with flying colours cemented Daarin Nadia’s interest. The top student said she did not have any special tips to study.

“Everyone has their own way in studying. I tend to analyse my weaknesses in each topic that I have problems with. Then, I would work through them. I also gained a better understanding by explaining a topic to my friends.”

Daarin Nadia, who left for the UK on Sept 30, said: “I really hope that I can do well and learn more at the University of Birmingham. I’m sure that I will be exposed to a lot of new skills during my two years there.”

Daarin Nadia’s mother, Norazilamazni Yusoff, said she was happy for her daughter.

“This is an opportunity for Daarin Nadia to follow her dreams. I remember that she wanted to pursue her studies overseas while in school, but she wasn’t able to do so as she did not get straight As. I told her ‘It’s okay, you can still excel in your studies here at UiTM’.

“My husband and I brought up Computer Science when she said she did not want to do medicine anymore. It is a great option for a degree and she will have a bright future ahead as we live in a technology-driven world now.”

Her husband, Nordin Hamzah, said: “Both my wife and I have a strong attachment to the university.

“I always tell my daughter that the sky’s the limit. With a degree in computer science, she can do anything in her life. Hopefully, in two years, she will successfully graduate from the University of Birmingham and UiTM.”

The partnership signalled a significant milestone to spearhead the field of computing, said UiTM vice-chancellor Professor Dr Mohd Azraai Kassim in his speech. Mohd Azraai said: “Computer Science is the first Science programme offered in UiTM back in 1969. Now, the Computer and Mathematical Sciences Faculty is embarking on its next phase of development by introducing a dual degree programme.

“By working together with the University of Birmingham, I genuinely believe that UiTM will leverage its position more actively to widen its global visibility in higher education.

“With the University of Birmingham’s standing at 81st place in the QS World University Rankings and its stature as one of the best research intensive institutions, I am certain that this MoA signifies a concrete step for both parties to progress in this direction.”

Mohd Azraai said earning a dual degree is a fantastic opportunity for students.

“In experiencing a different culture, we gain a more profound understanding of ourselves and those around us, deepening our knowledge of the world in a way that books, assignments and a professional career can never reveal.

“This is what UiTM strives for in our nation building efforts. I hope that future graduates of the dual degree programme will be able to fill the gap in the computing and software development job market.”

He added: “I am optimistic that this collaboration will continue to promote academic initiatives such as research and innovation activities, supervision for students’ projects, as well as joint publications in high impact journals.”

Since 2014, UiTM has initiated several dual degree programmes in the undergraduate and postgraduate levels with international institutions, such as in the International Business and Environment programme with the SRH Heidelberg University, Germany.

Present during the MoA ceremony were University of Birmingham School of Computer Science coordinator and lecturer Dr Ian Kenny and UiTM Computer and Mathematical Sciences Faculty dean Professor Dr Haryani Haron.