‘UBD must build on momentum’

National 3 minutes, 40 seconds


UNIVERSITI Brunei Darussalam needs to continue attracting top students while retaining high quality academic staff to build on the momentum of becoming the most improved university in Asia, its deputy vice-chancellor said.

In an email interview yesterday, Associate Professor Azman Ahmad said UBD will also focus on improving its GenNEXT programme, and producing high impact research that contributes to the nation’s socio-economic development.

UBD is the most improved university in Asia after jumping 57 places in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) Asian universities rankings.

The national varsity ranked 118th this year, up from 171-180 in 2014, a statement from UBD said yesterday.

UBD also achieved top 25 in five categories in the QS ranking. Out of the five, UBD is top 10 in three of its categories.

The deputy vice-chancellor said the improved rankings meant that the university has the capacity and ability to provide high quality and global standard education.

He said UBD can compete with well-established and world-renowned universities in Asia despite being young and small.

“We managed to improve our world standing as a result of strong government support and visionary and transformational leadership at every level,” he said.

Dr Azman said changes were made to achieve this in areas such as leadership, greater autonomy to UBD, the introduction of the GenNEXT curriculum and expanding access to higher education through UniBridge.

He also attributed the success to more research funding, which enabled academics to produce cutting-edge research, and government support through the graduate research scholarship scheme.

Dr Azman further said UBD’s standing in research is commendable and world-class, although research and development only took off and was strengthened in the past few years.

“We are expecting a trajectory movement of our research output in terms of publications within the next couple of years. This will further increase our paper per faculty, citation and academic peer reputation,” he said.

The UBD statement said research productivity has escalated over the last five years, with increased funding from the public and private sectors being key to research excellence.

This has resulted in its rise in the rankings for international academic reputation from unranked in 2014 to 139.

UBD increased its score from 30.2 from last year’s 8.

The QS survey recorded about 64,000 responses in 2015 to arrive at this score. It noted “the importance of research as a mission for universities means that it is stressed in almost all rankings systems”.

The Arts and Humanities discipline, which was previously unranked, is now 127th in Asia. The Natural Sciences moved from unranked to 149, while the Social Sciences improved from 187 to 162, the statement added.

It said the success can be attributed to its innovative curriculum framework, growth in research, active recruitment measures and focused development of Bruneian academics and administrators.

The statement went on to say that the university has collaborated with prestigious institutions including Oxford University and Georgetown University in Islamic Studies, Kyoto University and the National University of Singapore in Energy Studies, and the Smithsonian Institute and Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University in biodiversity research.

UBD Vice-Chancellor Dato Paduka Dr Hj Zulkarnain Hj Hanafi said the university’s progress was made possible by the collective efforts of all academic and administrative staff, students and stakeholders.

“Most importantly, the sustained support and funding from His Majesty’s Government and its agencies, in particular the Brunei Research Council and Department of Economic Planning and Development (JPKE), has enabled us to develop research strengths to be among the best in the region,” Dato Dr Zulkarnain was quoted as saying in the press release.

Minister of Education Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Seri Kerna Utama Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Hj Awang Abu Bakar Hj Apong said the recognition is another milestone and a strong testament to UBD’s determination in providing quality education towards the realisation of Vision Brunei 2035.

In a message to UBD, Secretary-general of Association of Pacific Rim Universities Christopher Tremewan said: “We all know that every country needs a strong peak institution in education and research to ensure the international viability of its national system. I convey not only my congratulations but my very best wishes for continuing success in subsequent years.”

The QS University Ranking is the most widely read university comparison that explores the ranking of universities in specific regions, drawing millions of readers weekly.

Criteria for the ranking covers subject area, academic reputation, student mobility, employer feedback, international faculty and students and research citations.

The Brunei Times