Universiti Teknologi Malaysia hosted its first International Staff Week 2019 from 28 October 2019 to 3 November 2019 on its Johor Bahru campus to strengthen and sustain partnership to benefit participating institutions and its international alliance, the Asia Technological University Network (ATU-Net). The International Staff Week 2019 (ISW2019) is the first to be hosted by an international university in Malaysia, and it saw the registration of 37 participants from 19 institutions from 10 countries, with the furthest being from Czech Republic.

The week-long programme was especially curated for administrators in charge of international mobility and affairs. In the Opening Ceremony, UTM Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic and International), Prof Ir Dr Zainuddin Abdul Manan welcomed the delegates and emphasised that the programme aimed to provide a platform to enhance skills and competencies in managing the international office, nurture inter-cultural competencies and international understanding, and share best practices in various areas related to international relations and activities.

A line-up of learning and sharing activities were featured including a keynote session on ‘Sustainable Partnership for Universal Prosperity’ by UTM Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic and International), and three workshops by speakers who are prominent in the international landscape: Workshop I – ‘Internationalisation, Ranking and Visibility’ by Prof Dr Nordin Yahaya​, Director of Higher Education Leadership Academy (AKEPT), Ministry of Education; Workshop II – ‘Establishing and Sustaining Partnerships’ by Assoc Prof Dr Mohd Ismid Mohd Said​, Pro-Vice Chancellor (International), UTM International, UTM; and Workshop III – ‘Mobility for Staff and Students’ by Prof Dr Nor Haniza Sarmin​, Associate Director (Global Strategy and Engagement), UTM International, UTM. The participants also shared about their universities and also studies that they have conducted in the networking session, the Meet and Greet session and the Mini Seminar. Eight topics were presented at the Mini Seminar, ranging from operational experiences such as student mobility and visa, to the larger scope of managing changes and alliances.

In addition to the Meet and Greet session at the Perpustakaan Sultanah Zanariah, the programme also featured similarly colourful activities including campus tour (Institute of Bioproduct Development, MagicX, and several other labs) and city tour (Malay Cultural Village), and welcoming dinner at the local Assam Pedas and BBQ and International Graduands Dinner at Pulai Springs Resort. Delegates of the participating institutions were also honoured with special invitations from the university to its 63rd Convocation Ceremony at the Sultan Iskandar Hall, and with convocation luncheon at the UTM Banquet Hall with Her Majesty Raja Zarith Sofiah binti Almarhum Sultan Idris Shah, Permaisuri of Johor and Chancellor of UTM and other VIPs. Overall, the programme received remarkably positive responses and rating of ‘good/excellent’, with requests for the programme to be conducted on annual basis and with more participating institutions.

International Staff Week is a programme commonly organised by European institutions with the purpose of encouraging partnership, staff mobility and training. Introducing the practice to local and Asian communities, ISW2019 was organised by UTM International, UTM in collaboration with the Asia Technological University Network (ATU-Net), Malaysia Chapter, which comprises of Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia, Universiti Malaysia Perlis, Universiti Malaysia Pahang, Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka, and Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, in addition to UTM. ATU-Net is a strategic international alliance of technological universities, of which UTM is both Chair and Secretariat. It has a total of 22 members from 10 countries in Asia. Delegates from other ATU-Net member institutions including Shibaura Institute of Technology, King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, Suranaree University of Technology, and Universiti Teknologi Brunei also attended the programme.

Another key activity during ISW2019 was the ATU-Net Workshop for its Special Interest Groups (SIGs). In the workshop, members of ATU-Net and participating institutions interested to be members were engaged in discussions to enhance and refine its student mobility framework and student programmes, marketing and membership, and also research and publication. For 2020, the network with UTM as the lead host will also be organising the University President Forum (UPF) 2020.

For more photos and information on the International Staff Week 2019, please visit UTM International Facebook page and ATU-Net website, http://atunet.org.