Wednesday, November 29

Three niche focus areas identified for international acclamation — Unimas VC


KUCHING: Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) has identified three niche areas of focus in its quest to become an internationally-acclaimed university and an institution of choice for both students and academics through the pursuit of excellence in teaching, research and scholarship.

According to its vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Mohamad Kadim Suaidi, the three niche areas are biodiversity and environmental conservation; sustainable community transformation; and information, communication and creative technology.

“Our excellence in the area of biodiversity and environmental conservation is acknowledged by various prestigious bodies such as the Academy of Sciences Malaysia and The Herpetologists’ League which is based in the USA on various studies such as on malaria, amphibians and dengue.

“In the areas of sustainable community transformation, our researchers are acknowledged by the World’s Craft Council for their excellence in handicrafts.

“As for the niche area of information, communication and creative technology, Unimas is also recognised by the Society of Satellite Professionals International for bridging the technology gap for the rural community in Bario,” he said.

Mohamad Kadim was speaking at the launch of Unimas Silver Jubilee Conference 2017 by Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh at Pullman Kuching yesterday.

In line with the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025, he said Unimas is working closely with various stakeholders in providing solutions that bring impact to society, adding the university is taking the challenge in translating their research for the benefit of society.

“Our dedication towards translational research can be seen from our researchers’ active involvement in providing solutions that benefit local communities. Our community transformation project in Bario has shown our involvement in generating electricity through micro-hydro project and solar energy.

“Additionally, we have the water desalination project that provides clean drinking water to various communities in Sarawak. In the field of information, communication and creative technology, our team of researchers, comprising various faculties, are working on rural transformation project, utilising telecentres as the hub for community development and transformation at Orang Asli communities in Kelantan and Pahang.”

This year, five Unimas research products have been commercialised, bringing the total amount of commercialisation to about RM2 million.

“Our active research grants currently amount to about RM52 million. This amount comprises grants we have secured from the ministry (of Higher Education) as well as from national and international funders.”

In enhancing its innovation ecosystem further, Mohamad Kadim said Unimas aspires to increase its journal publications and citations, hoping that the papers submitted for this conference will increase the number of total journal papers of its researchers.

From the research grant perspective, Unimas academicians have managed to secure a total amount of RM3.5 million in international funding from the United Kingdom, United States of America, Belgium, Japan and Australia.

Apart from research grants, Mohamad Kadim said the university’s researchers have been recognised through their contributions in their various fields of expertise, mentioning Professor Balbir Singh who was recently named  recipient of the Merdeka Award 2017 for his work in malaria research.

In noting that the teaching pedagogy in the 21st century warrants innovativeness and creativity in Unimas’ approach as the younger generation today is inclined to utilise technology as their medium of learning, he said the university has placed greater importance on utilising technology through blended learning.

“This year we have embarked on the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). So far we have 14 modules and nine other modules are underway. About 23,000 learners have already registered with Unimas.”