Interview

Prof. Datin Paduka Dr. Samsinar Md. Sidin

Vice Chancellor of Universiti Tun Abdul Razak (UNIRAZAK)

We aim to empower the next generation to have a personal point of view and a strong voice. In other words, we want to shape self-confident graduates, who have a clear vision of what they want to be and the skills and know-how to make it happen.

ASEAN BUSINESS LEADERS: Professor Samsinar, you have many years of experience in the field of education and academics. What do you observe about the trends and changes that have taken place in the higher education sector in Malaysia over the last few years?

PROF. SAMSINAR: As a community, we are engaged and curious about new ideas and trends where boundaries are blurring. Over the last few years, the education system in Malaysia increasingly enables a culture where teaching, learning, and research are integrated at every stage. This means that the higher education institution can deliver courses that are relevant and responsive to new issues and challenges on a global and local level.

ASEAN BUSINESS LEADERS: How is the university positioning itself, and what is the role that UNIRAZAK plays with regards to preparing students for a rapidly changing global environment?

PROF. SAMSINAR: Our approach to education is quite simple – we do not mass produce clones. We aim to empower the next generation to have a personal point of view and a strong voice. In other words, we want to shape confident graduates who have a clear vision of what they want to be, and are equipped with the skills and know-how to make it happen.

We are also actively exporting our knowledge and expertise in Islamic banking and financial services to the emerging markets. UNIRAZAK’s efforts have gained due recognition when the university was awarded the ‘Export Outstanding Achievement Award 2015' by the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE). Our students made history again by becoming the first ever Asia Champion (undergraduate category) of the Birla Asian Family Business Case Competition.

ASEAN BUSINESS LEADERS: What are the main challenges you face in setting UNIRAZAK apart locally and internationally?

PROF. SAMSINAR: One of the challenges we are facing is changing the traditional mindset when it comes to the concept of learning. We believe in shaking up the conventional learning process and allow each student to learn whatever they want, from wherever they want instead. This means that the content and interaction caters to the individual user—their speed, their interests, their location— and not the other way round.

ASEAN BUSINESS LEADERS: Is UNIRAZAK implementing these changes within its own teaching and learning systems?

PROF. SAMSINAR: Yes, we are trying to transform university education by adopting digital solutions. The limitations of traditional higher education now is that to pursue a program of your dreams, you may have to travel away from home, live in a completely unknown city, and struggle in an extremely competitive learning environment.

With our latest online platform UROX, however, you can take any higher education program or course wherever and whenever. UROX enables everybody in the community to continue their studies regardless of commitment on time or resources.

ASEAN BUSINESS LEADERS: How would you describe the value and contribution that this university offers to nation-building in Malaysia?

PROF. SAMSINAR: Malaysia is experiencing a new chapter. Our Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, has reinforced the message that Malaysia is intent on becoming a globally competitive knowledge-based society and higher education will be a crucial mean to this end.

In response to our Prime Minister’s vision, we are trying to bridge different disciplines by adding breadth as well as depth to our expertise. We welcome staff from a wide range of backgrounds, including social entrepreneurs and creative professionals. Our research expertise is continuously fed back into the faculties at every level, from Undergraduate to PhD. Not only that, we are trying to step up on engagement with the industry so that our students can get real-world experiences while studying at UNIRAZAK.

ASEAN BUSINESS LEADERS: How would you like your Vice Chancellorship to be viewed, and what does “success” mean to you?

PROF. SAMSINAR: As the Vice Chancellor of UNIRAZAK, I want to establish a community where people feel secure enough to take creative risks and are not afraid of failure. Success to me is seeing staff and students from different year groups and disciplines share ideas and motivate each other to be more than they ever thought possible.