Interview

Prof. Ir. Dr. Ewe Hong Tat

President of Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR)

At UTAR we have a vision to create an education environment where Confucius and Einstein meet. This is done through our Asian philosophy and culture and are being boosted by the rapid technology developments that we get over here.

ASEAN BUSINESS LEADERS: What are the unique opportunities and advantages of studying at UTAR?

PROF. EWE: UTAR’s uniqueness can be conceptualised in its bronze sculptures of Confucius and Einstein located at our campus in Kampar. It signifies a fusion of the East and the West. UTAR embraces both the cultural diversities, wisdom, and philosophies of the East and complements them with the Western fast-paced developments in science and technology.

The bridge that connects both the East and the West lies in UTAR’s six pillars of education, which are Virtue and Morality; Sociality and Humanitarianism; Knowledge and Intellect; Aesthetics and Harmony; Physical and Mental Health; and Creativity and Innovation. These have been incorporated into the university culture since 2008.

UTAR’s underlining strategies to fulfil its vision and mission have been guided and shaped by the universal core values stated in its six pillars of education, which also encompass all the key areas of learning for a wholesome education and a balanced harmonious life for both staff and students.

ASEAN BUSINESS LEADERS: How are you building quality education for UTAR students?

PROF. EWE: UTAR has always adopted good governance and responsible management for long term sustainability, lifelong learning and value creation for its staff, students and the community.

We also aim to equip our students with a complete and enriching education by complementing their academic studies with important social and soft skills training, in the hopes that they become responsible citizens in society.

Have you heard of the UTAR Soft Skills Development Certificate (USSDC)? In 2009, UTAR was the first university in Malaysia to set up this type of structured programme for its students to acquire the key soft skills to transform into readily-employable graduates who are not only knowledgeable, resilient and adaptable to industry changes, but are also compassionate and responsible professionals.

The USSDC programme focuses on the training and development of core skills such as Communication and Language Skills; Cognitive Skills; Complex Problem Solving skills; Critical Thinking; Emotional Intelligence, Cultural Intelligence and Teamwork; Moral and Professional Ethics; Leadership Skills; Lifelong Learning and Information Management; Entrepreneurship Skills; and Digital Literacy. All these also fulfil the key employment skills required for our students to be prepared for the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Furthermore, UTAR has actively conducted more than 2000 community projects, which range from STEM activities in schools and community mutual cooperation activities, Chinese New Village surveys, health campaigns, educational classes, to collaborative community enhancement projects. All these community activities provide the complementary educational experience for our students for overall character building and inculcate the spirit of volunteerism. In addition, our students are exposed to diverse activities from a list of 72 active clubs and societies on campus, thus further honing their team management and leadership skills.

The UTAR Undergraduate Research Scheme (URS) Certificate recognizes undergraduate students’ achievements and efforts in active and practical research by undergoing a structured programme that is not part of their coursework. The programme is designed to expose and train them in research project implementation related to their field of study. There are 32 research centres where students can seek research training and attachment.

UTAR has always encouraged students to attain a global experience and an international outlook in life and education. With more than 300 MoU university and industry partners, both local and international, our students are exposed to a host of international opportunities. In 2018, about 900 inbound students and 900 outbound students were involved in study tours and student exchanges with partner universities in China, Korea, Japan, Germany, Thailand, Singapore and many more countries.

Quality has always been important to the university. A list of 80 external examiners from 12 economies, more than 120 industry advisors, and 20 professional bodies provide input and industry updates for our curriculum development. Such quality education is also available to all students who qualify for financial assistance and scholarships offered by UTAR and more than 80 external organizations.

ASEAN BUSINESS LEADERS: How is UTAR embracing opportunities of technological developments in higher education?

PROF. EWE: With the advent of the 4th Industrial Revolution, it is critical to not only provide students with the latest knowledge, but also to nurture them with skills for the 21st Century.

We have collaborations with many multinational companies, thanks to our 300 MoUs signed with local and international universities and industry leaders. Aligned with the changing trends in education, UTAR is involved in the increasing use of technology in teaching and learning. We have worked with INTEL, Microsoft, Google, SAS and SAP. We are now also working with Huawei and Alibaba in the areas of computer networking, internet technology and e-commerce.

On top of that, UTAR is actively partnering with Malaysian IT and engineering companies such as Silverlake, Infineon Technologies, Brunsfield, Vitrox, as well as government agencies, to ensure that we are constantly updating our learning curriculum. We maintain regular contacts with the industry to provide the latest info, trends, technology and experience for our students.