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Undergraduates protest to the merger due to three main reasons - loss of identity, different fields of specialisation and waning autonomy.- NSTP/Ghazali Kori
Undergraduates protest to the merger due to three main reasons - loss of identity, different fields of specialisation and waning autonomy.- NSTP/Ghazali Kori

The proposed merger of Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) and Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UnisZA) was not well received.

It has prompted the overseas Bunga Raya Academy and Bunga Raya Club to conduct a survey to look at the reaction of UMT staff and students.

A total of 2,248 respondents comprising students and staff took part. Of the figure, 2,175 were against the merger. Reasons cited included a loss of identity and autonomy, and differences in the field of specialisation.

The focuses of the two universities were also a point of contention. UMT focuses on maritime education, while UniSZA focuses on Islamic studies, management and medicine.

The merger is perceived as a roadblock to efforts by both universities to gain global recognition in their niche areas.

The merged university may not be able to find a balance when allocating research funds and deciding on the number of faculties.

Respondents were concerned about the status of the staff as there was lack of clarity from the Education Ministry and the Universiti Malaysia Terengganu brand.

The Education Ministry should hold a dialogue with stakeholders as well as staff and students from the two universities.

Negotiations must be transparent so that the outcome can be evaluated by the stakeholders and public.

There should be funding to cover the cost of the merger.

Should the merger go through, it would be wise to have a new name and a new identity, as well as establish an association for both universities’ alumni and former employees.

An independent committee should be established to serve as an intermediary for the universities and the ministry.

In the meantime, both universities should take advantage of the autonomy and space provided by the ministry and conduct research and dialogue with their stakeholders.

Alia Mokhtar

Secretary-general, Bunga Raya Academy

Aziz Azizam

Deputy president, Bunga Raya Club

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