Singapore, 22 July : UTM’s  Vice Chancellor, Prof. Dato’ Ir. Dr. Zaini Ujang was honoured with the “Award for Outstanding Contribution to Education” at the Asia’s Best Business School Award ceremony at the Suntec , Singapore on 22 July, 2011.

The award was given in recognition of Zaini’s efforts in innovation in higher education to include entrepreneurship and value innovation in line with Malaysia’s resolute goals at strengthening its national innovation systems towards value driven economy and high-income nation.

Throughout his tenure as the Vice Chancellor, Zaini has injected the idea of value innovation and entrepreneurial mindset based on the concept of New Academia in every single effort and thought process in all dimensions at the university including teaching, learning, management and administration.

This is based on the premise that innovation is more than just good ideas and scientific discoveries. It is the spirit that leads people to think of new ways, try fresh methods and experiment with out-of-the-box problem-solving in all aspects, whether it is in the way we learn, teach and manage.

As a case in point, UTM integrates technology advancement and business practice in its approach to teaching and learning. In realizing this, UTM engages with top universities and institutions around the world such as Imperial College, Harvard Business School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to name a few. This is also based on the belief that a world-class university can only reach its true potential by nurturing a global mindset and building strategic links around the world.

One such initiative is engaging with the Imperial College of London in the area of Automotive Engineering and Low Carbon Technology as part of the collaborative framework between UTM and the National car producer, PROTON, where Zaini is currently the Chair of the Proton Technological Advisory Council.

Another initiative is the incorporation of the Harvard Business School case studies in the teaching and learning to all students at the university. This cooperation with the prestigious Harvard University allows UTM to diversify its teaching approaches and extend the academic exposure with a value-added dimension. Most importantly, students are exposed to real situations in existing industries around the world and provided with the challenge to handle issues and resolve problems and conflicts.

Furthermore, The UTM International Business School (IBS), for example, has established an International Advisory Council as part of its team consisting of renowned experts from established institutions for example, Prof Richard Vietor and Prof. Sunil Gupta from the Harvard Business School.

At the same time, the UTM IBS has included experienced and professionals from industries and established organizations to be part of the teaching staff. This ensures industry relevant and market-driven programmes with entrepreneurship and value innovation incorporated in the teaching and learning process.

It is also worth noting that some of the MBA programme electives in IBS are offered to interested undergraduates for them to have early exposure to relevant subjects in business, management and entrepreneurship.

In addition, to enhance the skills, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial mindsets of students, the 5 ExcellenceTrack Programme was initiated to nurture and harness students’ potential for Nobel academic excellence, entrepreneurial excellence, leadership excellence, sports excellence and tahfiz excellence. This aims to create competitive students who are ready to face the current global challenge.

Another programme which sees the students of UTM gaining international exposure and expanding their global outlook is the Global Outreach Programme. Apart from improving their language and interpersonal skills as well as gaining academic exposure and cross-cultural understanding, the unique feature of the programme is the fact that students participating in the programme are only given a token of RM 1000 each and they have to raise the remaining costs of the trip themselves through projects or income-generating programmes. This incidentally will encourage them to put into practice their innovative and entrepreneurial skills.  At present, 5000 students of the university have benefitted from this programme.

UTM also established the UTM Endowment Fund as a means to generate funding for academic work and scholarly activities in UTM as an institution of knowledge. This endowment initiative is the brainchild of Zaini in his effort to promote contributions funded by donations from the community within and outside the university with various initiatives taken to increase its size. So far contributions have been encouraging with staff, students, graduates, alumni members, individuals and the corporate sector contributing. It is the hope of UTM to model itself with renowned universities in the world such as Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, Al-Azhar University in Egypt, to name a few, which have substantial funds or wakf properties to sustain university activities and provide scholarship to students.

These are some of the initiatives and efforts undertaken by the Vice Chancellor in his aspiration to bring the university to greater heights through differentiation and impactful strategies towards becoming a renowned innovation-led Entrepreneurial Research University.