HM: Higher Learning Institutions Play Key Role in Economic Diversification (BruDirect (Brunei))

All parties need to work together and agree to implement “a whole of nation approach” and not stop at “a whole of government approach” to address unemployment issues.

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah Ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam stresses the issue in a titah at the 27th Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) Convocation ceremony yesterday.

His Majesty who is also the Chancellor of UBD, also stresses the need for institutes of higher learning to be more innovative and creative in finding alternative financial resources such as collaborating with industries so that financing any activity can be shared and the outcome is also capable of producing results for all.

At the 27th Convocation ceremony, one thousand, one hundred twenty five graduates were awarded with Doctor of Philosophy, Masters and Bachelor degrees as well as diplomas. The ceremony took place at the UBD Chancellor’s Hall.

The recitation of Surah Al-Fatihah was led by Yang Berhormat Pehin Datu Seri Maharaja Dato Paduka Seri Setia Dr. Ustaz Haji Awang Abdul Aziz bin Juned, the State Mufti.

On arrival, His Majesty was greeted by Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia Dr. Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong, the Minister of Education, and Dato Paduka Dr. Haji Zulkarnain bin Haji Hanafi, the Permanent Secretary of Higher Learning at the Ministry of Education and Vice-Chancellor of UBD.

The ceremony began with the recitation of Al-Quran verses presented by Md Shair bin Haji Shamsuddin, an Islamic Finance Masters Degree Graduate.

UBD has begun exploring alternative methods in teaching and learning in its effort to provide an online learning system. The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education and Vice-Chancellor of UBD in his welcoming speech said as an early step, all modules in UBD programmes have been successfully carried out through a learning management technology system known as CANVAS since last month.

The Vice Chancellor said in considering the existing advantages and as part of future planning, a blended learning method, part of which was conducted online was introduced. Dato Paduka added the method provides an opportunity to working people or those with less spare time to upgrade their qualifications without necessarily attending lectures physically during their studies.

It also provides people interested in following certain courses solely for knowledge and not qualification. This will instil ‘lifelong learning’ among the country’s people in line with His Majesty’s aspiration.

In the titah, His Majesty highlights the higher number of those receiving Doctorates compared to previous years. With such an increase, His Majesty hopes UBD will become a choice destination capable of attracting outstanding students to upgrade their learning and research at UBD. His Majesty then went on to make the titah of consent to confer the degrees to the UBD graduands.

Eight hundred ninety six graduates received their degrees in the morning session of the convocation. Out of that total, twenty received Doctor of Philosophy degrees or the PhD. It is the largest number so far of students graduating with Doctorates in the various disciplines at the university. There are currently ninety four local undergraduates and 127 international students attending Doctor of Philosophy courses at UBD.

Meanwhile, 212 graduates received Masters Degrees and 664 graduated with Bachelor Degrees. The convocation witnessed the presentation of Masters Degrees to the First Cohort of the Master of Public Policy and Management programme to students from East-Asia Summit Participating Countries, including the Philippines, Singapore, Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Russia, and Brunei Darussalam.

The programme is a networking with several top Public Policy Studies institutes in the United States that focus on policies specially related to Brunei Darussalam, which are Islamic Administration, Energy Policy and Management, Environmental Policy and Management.

To improve the quality of its graduates, UBD has also taken the initiative to establish UBD CoNECT that functions as a centre for connecting UBD students and graduates with industries, and facilitating advertisement of job vacancies, internship schemes, training and interviews.

Apart from that, it also offers career counselling service, organises career and skills exhibitions as well as providing a service for UBD students and graduates to understand career requirements and capabilities in preparation for the working world.

For the first time, UBD has produced 26 Bachelor degree graduates in Geological Science. To invoke Allah’s blessings, a doa selamat was read by the State Mufti. The UBD celebrates its 30th Anniversary this year. Various academic activities, including workshops, international conferences and talks have been planned for the celebration.

His Majesty then consented to view the Convocation Ceremony Exhibition on the UBD Centre of Networking, Employment and Career Training’, UBD CoNECT. In the exhibition, the centre with the support of the Office of Alumni Relations and Advancement’ (OARA) introduces a website and a mobile phone application created especially to assist its alumni in finding job opportunities, give tips or advice and how to succeed in finding work.

The number of working graduates among those who followed the GenNext Programme increased from 2013 until last year. More than 60 percent of GenNext graduates who completed their studies in two prior cohorts are working in the non-government sector.

The GenNext Programme has shown an evident impact, especially in equipping graduates with requirements needed not only in the government sector but also in the private sector. This will reduce the graduates’ dependence on job opportunities in the government in line with His Majesty’s aspiration.

Since its establishment, the UBD has become an institution that produces stronger graduates as high calibre and capacity human resource for the community and country. Alongside government and non-government agencies, the university plays an important role in educating the country’s citizens, especially youths to become outstanding and learned people who adhere to Islamic teachings and the Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) Concept.