Downturn forces UBD to be creative in funding strategy

National 2 minutes, 22 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE effect of low oil prices has ‘somewhat forced’ Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) to be more creative in finding ways to obtain funding, its vice chancellor said recently.

In an interview, Datin Dr Hjh Anita Binurul Zahrina Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Wijaya Dato Seri Setia Hj Abdul Aziz said UBD has been very prudent in its funding strate-gy in terms of spending in areas that have more potential and supporting them.

UBD is a national university funded by the government. During the 12th session of the Legislative Council in March, the Ministry of Education was allocated a budget of $726.65 million for the 2016/2017 financial year, down five per cent from the previous year, as falling global oil prices hurt Brunei’s economy, slashing government revenue.

But Datin Dr Hjh Anita said education and research cannot slow down because they are both sustainable and necessary for the future of Brunei, especially with the country diversifying its economy.

“What we hope is to have a knowledge-based economy driven by innovation. I think it’s very important that the university continues with its agendas (of education and research).

“With oil prices going down, it shouldn’t stop UBD (from carrying on with our agendas). But what we should do is be more creative (in terms of obtaining funding).

“So we’ve also been creative in terms of what kind of programmes and research we’re doing. I think the fall in oil prices has brought the university’s creativity to the surface,” she added.

Datin Dr Hjh Anita said across the university, they have also been carrying out initiatives to attract funding.

“So with that money, we’ve re-examined our research landscape, and we’re strategising our funding. We’re also trying to create (an environment) of more people (within UBD) collaborating together across different disciplines rather than working alone. The research will be more meaningful if there’s collaboration within different disciplines,” she said.

The vice chancellor said they are looking to bring young researchers at UBD together to nurture and mentor them, “and this should continue because the young ones are the future”.

Meanwhile, Datin Dr Hjh Anita said entrepreneurship is another big thing for the university, where they hone students to have a more entrepreneurial mindset.

“This cuts across the different sectors because whatever we do, we like to look at it holistically. When we launched our Generation Next (GenNext) programme in 2009, one of the thrusts was entrepreneurship. This means having the students become more entrepreneurial in thinking.”

UBD currently incorporates entrepreneurial thinking in all its modules, she said.

“Two years ago, we also set up an entrepreneurship village, and they are the champions for the national entrepreneurship agenda. So rather than looking at the university only, we do work with kindergarten to Year 12 students where we instil entrepreneurial thinking.”

The Brunei Times