The Vice-Chancellor of UTM, Prof. Datuk Ir. Dr. Wahid Omar presented a paper at the 8th QS WorldClass on the theme ‘Higher Education, Commerce and Community: New Partnerships for Knowledge Development’.

The conference was held in Phuket, Thailand from March 25 to 27, 2015. The UTM delegation comprising Prof. Datuk Ir. Dr. Wahid Omar, Prof Dr Nordin Yahya (Director, UTM International), and Prof Dr Masputeriah Hamzah (Director, Office of Corporate Affairs) was joined by Mr K. C. Low, the General Manager of Johor Port, UTM’s Industrial partner.

Prof Wahid presented a paper entitled ‘Transforming Communities through Meaningful Engagements’, which highlighted UTM’s concerted efforts in forging synergistic partnerships with industrial partners and corporate organizations, leveraging across each other’s capacity and strength to make a difference to communities in need, both locally and abroad. He pointed out that UTM aims to create a university community that is educated and engaged with society, equipped with a strong sense of civic responsibility in addressing critical societal needs. Such engagements would lead to positive outcomes in terms of resource sharing, technology transfer and knowledge sharing.

Mr K.C. Low highlighted UTM-Johor Port’s collaboration in running an English Language Enrichment Programme. This engagement is a notable example of industry-university-community partnership aimed at providing quality education, encapsulating a collective impact initiative in the drive towards significant improvements in school students ‘achievements in the English language.

The 8th QS WorldClass highlighted the role and significance of industry in education and knowledge advancement, which need to transcend the traditional perception of universities as ivory towers. Universities are urged not only to promote attachment and internship of both staff and students with their industry partners, but also to conduct joint research with the industry. Such proactive activities will enable research to accelerate, resulting in impactful outcomes. Industry-University collaboration would also create immense value toward capacity building.

UTM acknowledges the importance of collaboration with external stakeholders and has in fact adopted the Quadruple Helix approach involving collaborative efforts between the University, Industry, Community, and Government. UTM’s link with the Industry has enabled all students to enjoy between 3 to 6 months of internship before they graduate. UTM staff may also go for industrial attachment.

One pertinent issue raised at the 8th QS WorldClass is the fact that research done at the University level does not match the needs of the industry. In addressing the issue, the PhD Industry programme was introduced by the Ministry of Education (MOE) with financial incentives under the MyBrain 15 PhD Industry Scholarship scheme. This programme focuses on professionals and industry practitioners with the aim to produce and enhance innovation and competitiveness via industry-based research, where the research scope is based on industrial issues or real problems at the workplaces relating to the PhD candidates’ respective jobs, and in their respective field of specialization. UTM in fact has the highest PhD Industry student enrolment in Malaysia, with two of its graduates becoming the first two to be conferred a PhD Industry degree in Malaysia.