BEING named after Malaysia’s Father of Development, it is not surprising that Universiti Tun Abdul Razak (Unirazak) has decided that its role in nation-building is to produce “high quality managerial leaders and capable entrepreneurs”.
The private university — previously known by the acronym Unitar — is currently undergoing a restructuring and rebranding exercise to better reflect the legacy and values of its namesake Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, who was Malaysia’s second Prime Minister and first Education Minister.
This, says president and vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Md Zabid Abdul Rashid, means remodelling the institution into a boutique university.
As he explains, a boutique university means that the institution is “specific and focused in certain areas of study, and offer specialities of high quality”.
For Unirazak, this will be in the areas of innovation, leadership and entrepreneurship.
Says Prof Zabid: “Through innovation, we get quality leaders, and through leadership, we can produce capable entrepreneurs.
“This is to leapfrog Malaysia to a higher income society and increase the production of human capital.”
He opines that there is now a shortage of quality human capital in both the public and private sectors in Malaysia, as evidenced by the many foreign experts being employed in the country.
“Our intent is to produce quality human capital for the country, and ultimately, for the region,” he says.
A key aspect of fulfilling this goal is the setting up of three new faculties: the Bank Rakyat School of Business and Entrepreneurship, the Graduate School of Business (formerly the Centre for Graduate Studies) and the Razak School of Government.
Several new degree programmes are set to be introduced across these three schools by next year in line with the university’s rebranding, and in response to industry demands.
These include two undergraduate courses with majors in Islamic Banking and Finance, and Islamic Planning; Masters in Business Administration (MBA) degrees specialising in Retail and Hypermarket, Global Islamic Finance and Entrepreneurship; and an Executive Master in Public Management, among others.
Says Prof Zabid: “Most of the programmes (we will be introducing) are not offered in any other institution in this country.”
He points out that the MBA in Retail and Hypermarket is the only one of its kind, while the Global Islamic Finance MBA programme is run in collaboration with six other institutions in Europe and the USA under the International Business School Alliance (IBSA).
Under the IBSA, students can spend one semester abroad in any one of the six partner universities and get a double postgraduate degree — one from Unirazak and another from the foreign university.
Another key change in the university’s rebranding exercise is the way lecturers will be teaching their classes.
While declining to give details, Prof Zabid says that the institution was “developing innovative and creative learning modes to excite Malaysians towards the learning of business and the real business world, by immersing them briefly in real-world situations”.
This also means that the university, which was one of the pioneers in e-learning in the country, will be moving away from its roots in online learning.
Says Prof Zabid: “We have to provide innovative ways of learning and delivery by giving more emphasis on face-to-face interaction, so that we can help to develop the personality and identity of our students.
“While we do not deny the importance of technology in learning, we must de-emphasise this mode of interaction in order to develop quality human capital.”
He estimates that currently, around 60% of the university’s students are already studying via conventional modes, while the other 40% are on distance-learning programmes.
“We hope, by 2011, Unirazak will have about 90% students on the conventional mode of learning, and the remaining online programmes will cater for working adult students.”
The institution is also hoping to enhance its teaching and research manpower, as well as attract the best postgraduate students, by offering around 10 teaching and research assistant positions every year.
These positions will be offered only to Malaysian first class honours graduates. Successful applicants will be provided with a place in the full-time MBA programme at the university, as well as a living stipend of RM1,500 monthly.
They will be expected to assist lecturers in their classes and participate in research projects in addition to their own studies.
Applications are now open for next year’s intake.