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THE ROLE OF UNIVERSITI MALAYSIA SARAWAK (UNIMAS)
IN HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT
IN THE EAST ASEAN GROWTH AREA (EAGA)

Dr. Yusuf Hadi,
Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic and Student Development),
Universiti Malaysia Sarawak,
Sarawak, Malaysia

ABSTRACT

This paper discusses the role of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) in the human resource development of the East ASEAN Growth Area (EAGA) through the offering of socially-relevant, market-driven programmes of study at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, as well as short-term training courses. UNIMAS was established in 1992 and took in its first batch of students in 1993. The current temporary campus, situated in Kota Samarahan, 30 kilometers and a 30-minute ride by car from Kuching, is equipped with the latest information technology (IT) in addition to its classrooms, academic blocks, student colleges, public amenities, and sports facilities. The 32 undergraduate programmes of study currently being offered and supported by its eight faculties and six centers are socially relevant, market-driven, and interdisciplinary in nature. Postgraduate and matriculation programmes are also offered. The approaches to teaching-learning --- including total development of the individual and education for capability --- aims to develop students into graduates who are autonomous and cooperative members of society, and who possess the knowledge, skills, and attitudes not only to function effectively in the familiar work place of today but also in the emerging job situations in the future. Short courses are offered as and when the need arises. UNIMAS, having established international collaborative links, is in a good position to participate in an EAGA network of institutions of higher education and research.

INTRODUCTION

This paper discusses the role of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) in the human resource development of the East ASEAN Growth Area (EAGA) through the offering of socially-relevant, market-driven programmes of study at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, as well as short-term training courses. I hope this information would be useful for discussion in this seminar which aims to provide a forum for government policy makers, university administrators, academics and private sector personnel to share ideas and information on the development of EAGA and to formulate guidelines for cooperation among the various institutions toward effective human resource development for both public and private sectors.

THE UNIVERSITY

UNIMAS was established on 24 December 1992, the eighth public university in Malaysia and the first to be established after the launching of the National 2020 Vision. The university’s mission is to establish itself as an exemplary university of internationally acknowledged stature, and as a scholarly institution of preference and choice for both students and academic staff, through the pursuit of excellence in teaching-learning, research, and scholarship. To achieve this mission, the UNIMAS offers a range of opportunities in education, training and scholarly services, and through strategic and innovative application of knowledge to enhance the quality of the nation’s culture and the prosperity of its people.

The first batch of 119 students registered in August 1993 for the 1993/96 academic session, for programmes under the Faculty of Resource Science and Technology and the Faculty of Social Sciences. In the current 1996/97 academic session, UNIMAS has 1,330 undergraduate and Science Matriculation students, and 70 graduate students.

The university started operations in a rented premise at the Telecom Training School in Kuching and moved to its current temporary campus on its permanent site in Kota Samarahan in October 1993. Kota Samarahan is 30 kilometers away from Kuching in Sarawak, the state capital, and could be reached in 30 minutes by car. By the end of 1997, when the new highway linking Kota Samarahan and Kuching is completed, travel time will be reduced by half.

The current campus, although temporary, is fully networked. The academic blocks, the information centre, and the student colleges are linked with fiber optics so that campus citizens have access to the Internet. The lecture and seminar rooms are linked to enable several groups of students to participate simultaneously in a lecture. Laboratories are being equipped to cater to practical aspects of the programmes. Public amenities and sports facilities are available and others are being planned and established.

A development plan for the permanent campus has been put together. Construction of the first phase of the campus is expected to start next year.

THE UNIVERSITY STRUCTURE

The university currently has eight faculties, six centers and five research institutes, as follows:

  • Faculties

Faculty of Resource Science and Technology
Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Cognitive Sciences and Human Development
Faculty of Applied and Creative Arts
Faculty of Information Technology
Faculty of Engineering
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Faculty of Economics and Business

  • Centers

Center for Student Development (CSD)
Center for Applied Learning and Multimedia (CALM)
Center for Consultancy and Technology Transfer (CTTC)
Center for Language and Communication Studies (CLCS)
Center for Academic Information Services (CAIS)
Center for Matriculation Programme

  • Institutes

Institute of Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation (IBEC)
Institute of Health and Community Medicine (IHCM)
Institute of Software Development (ISD)
Institute of East Asian Studies (IEAS)
Institute of Design and Ergonomics Applications (IDEA)

The faculties offer programmes of study. The centers generally have service functions, but also offer programmes of study. The institutes coordinate and conduct research, in addition to the research conducted by academicians in the faculties and centers.

ROLE OF UNIMAS IN HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT

UNIMAS role in human resource development is through its offering of programmes of study and short-term courses. Since its establishment, the university has embarked on offering both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. A science matriculation programme has been started, and short-term courses are conducted from time to time.

  • Undergraduate Programmes

The undergraduate programmes offered at UNIMAS are listed in Appendix 1. A total of 31 programmes are being offered by eight faculties and two centers, and supported by the other centers. The programmes have been planned and offered after a thorough study of the needs of society and the market. Several other programmes are being considered and planned.

Starting from scratch, a new university like UNIMAS has no existing strength to build upon. It therefore has to identify and carve out a strategic position within the university system, at national, regional, and international levels. UNIMAS decided that its teaching-learning should be programme-based, and that its curriculum should be based on the concepts of Total Development of the Individual and Education for Capability.

The university’s desired graduate profile is one that is based on the total development of the individual as an autonomous but cooperative member of society. UNIMAS graduates should have the ability to think, reason out and work independently without detailed direction from superiors; they should also possess the capacity and commitment to work with others toward common and jointly negotiated objectives. At the university level, this profile is achieved through the offering of core, generic, and complementary courses. These courses form a framework within which the balance of knowledge, skills, and personal qualities can be achieved.

Core courses are designed for each programme. As a group, they provide a coherent and broad-based coverage of the programme. They provide the intellectual depth as the basis for maximum continuing adaptability to future adaptations and changes.

Generic courses are designed to develop a positive attitude in the students, and establish with them a high level of balance between autonomy and cooperation. They include courses in information technology, self-management, public speaking, study skills, languages (Bahasa Melayu, English, third languages), cognitive and affective development, values system/Islamic civilization, science and society, nationhood and globalization, and leisure activities.

Complementary courses are courses which a student takes from a programme of study other than his/her own. It may be a field where the student has some basic knowledge or skills, which he/she wants to develop further, or a subject which the student has some interest in, or which the student thinks is useful to him/her. A module of such courses forms a second track (a small minor) for the student as the courses are expected to reach a significant level of complexity and sophistication in the treatment of their subject.

At the faculty, programme and course levels, several initiatives have been and are being taken to provide the structure and methodology for the promotion of a new learning culture, one that prepares students to be independently capable. The Education for Capability approach equips students with the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and confidence not only to function effectively in the familiar work place of today but also in the emerging job situations in the future.

  • Postgraduate Programs

All faculties and institutes, and the relevant centers offer postgraduate programmes in niche areas identified as relevant, in conjunction with their respective programmes of research. Our first two batches of graduates consist of three masters in information technology in 1995 and another three in 1996, well ahead of our first convocation ceremony for the first batch of undergraduates on 9 August, 1997. The long-term target is to have postgraduate students forming 20 percent of the student population.

UNIMAS has cooperative arrangements with other institutions in the offering of postgraduate programmes. The master in human resource development is conducted in cooperation with Institut Aminuddin Baki of the Ministry of Education Malaysia, to upgrade the knowledge and skills of current teachers. The master in advance information technology is a modular postgraduate course for practicing IT personnel and is offered in cooperation with the ASEAN-Pacific Institute of Information Technology.

  • Short-term Courses and Seminars

Short-term courses are offered as and when the need arises. Examples are computer courses offered by the Faculty of Information Technology, English and Communication seminar series and Bahasa Melayu course organized by the Center for Language and Communication Studies, as well as the seminar series conducted by the various faculties, centers, and institutes.

SCOPE OF COOPERATION

UNIMAS is keen to participate in a network of institutions of higher education and research in EAGA. We believe that our quest for knowledge, skills, technology, and expertise must transcend boundaries. International alliances offer access to expertise needed to shape our programmes of study and research, and opportunities for academicians to exchange ideas and work together. We have a lot to gain by building international bridges to bring the world to the university and to take the university to the world. Part of the strategy for forging international linkages is to participate in synergistic relationships and smart partnerships which will allow optimization of resources for both UNIMAS and the participating institutions.

UNIMAS has, over the first three years, established cooperative links through signing of memoranda of understanding (MOU) with several institutions of higher learning and research around the world. The general areas of cooperation include staff and student exchanges, exchange of academic materials and other information, joint research and consultancy activities, collaborative organization of seminars and academic meetings, and special programme of studies.

CONCLUDING REMARKS

UNIMAS is only slightly more than three years old, but we think that like other universities, we have a major role in human resource development for Malaysia and the ASEAN. We have developed innovative, socially-relevant, market-driven academic programmes, both at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. We have set in place programmes of research and consultancy right from the beginning, and have been involved in several research and consultancy projects. We have developed learning infrastructure, including the use of networked computers and multimedia. We have established collaborative international links in our quest for knowledge, skills, technology, and expertise. Hence, we are well-poised to participate in an EAGA network of institutions of higher education and research.


REFERENCES


Universiti Malaysia Sarawak. 1993. The Tree Book. Kuala Lumpur. 74p.

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak. 1995. Annual Report 1994. Kota Samarahan. 72p.

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak. 1996. Annual Report 1995. Kota Samarahan. 55p.

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak. 1996. Prospektus Prasiswazah 1996/97. Kota Samarahan. 92p.


APPENDIX I: Programmes of Study

Faculty of Engineering

w Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering
w Computer and Information Engineering
w Civil Engineering
w Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
w Oil and Gas Engineering

Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
w Medicine
w Dentistry
w Nursing

Faculty of Cognitive Sciences and Human Development
w Human Resource Development
w Cognitive Science
w Applied Education

Faculty of Social Sciences
w International Studies
w Labor Studies
w Communication Studies
w Politics and Government
w Development Planning and Management
w Social Works Studies

Faculty of Resource Science and Technology
w Aquatic Resource Science and Management
w Animal Resource Science and Management
w Plant Resource Science and Management
w Earth Science and Management
w Resource Chemistry
w Material and Wood Science
w Resource Biotechnology

Faculty of Applied and Creative Arts
w Fine Arts
w Design
w Drama and Theater
w Music
w Cinematography
w Arts Management
Faculty of Information Technology
w Software Engineering
w Computer Systems Technology
w Information System
w Computational Science

Faculty of Economics and Business
w International Economics and Business
w Industrial Economics and Organization
w Marketing

Center for Language and Communication Studies
w TESL

Center for Matriculation Programmes

w Science Matriculation

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