By Azman Zakaria
Photo by Noor Azreen Awang
SERDANG, Feb 24 - Expecting that the challenges facing the higher education sector, especially universities, will be greater this year, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Datin Paduka Dr Aini Ideris called on all UPM staff and students to remain ambitious and motivated in maintaining excellence.
Expressing her confidence, she said strong bonding and cooperation among them will enable UPM to pass through all those hurdles.
“By sticking to the spirits of collegiality and togetherness steadfastly, we can continue to enhance our solidarity and sense of belonging and work closely together to bring UPM’s excellence to greater heights,” she said in her 2017 New Year Message here which was attended by UPM staff and students.
Also present were Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic and International), Prof. Dr. M.Iqbal Saripan and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation), Prof. Dato' Dr. Husaini Omar, both of whom were appointed to their respective post on Feb 15, and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Industry and Community Relations), Prof. Dr. Ing Ir.Renuganth Varatharajoo.
In her message, themed "Ihsan: Excellence and Challenges," Prof Datin Paduka Dr Aini called on Pusat Tanggungjawab (PTJ) to prepare an Action Plan to help realize the initiatives of preserving the greenery and creating a UPM Botanical Garden, and intensifying efforts to strengthen the agricultural field, research, national strategic requirements, talents as well as academic leadership.
Other initiatives she pointed out included instilling excellence and humanity in students, creation of positive learning experience in preparation for actual living, utilization of learning technologies, bringing Bintulu Campus’ excellence to greater heights, exploring new strategies for university funding and risk management, strengthening integrity and wellbeing of UPM staff, and making Universiti Putra Malaysia a global brand.
She also expressed her hope for UPM folks to embrace Ihsan as their source of strength in their relentless efforts to brace themselves for excellence, which will indirectly propel UPM to become a renowned institution.
"We must never regard the challenges we are facing as obstacles to achieve par excellence, but rather as a source to enhance our resilience that could protect and safeguard our excellence as a research university,” she added.
In addressing the challenges for funding and university’s finances, she said every UPM resident at all levels of management should be responsible to culturalize fund-generating and cost-saving activities.
Towards implementing the Ihsan concept, she said it is the responsibility of every UPM resident to embrace the culture of austerity, wise spending to avoid wastage, adopt lean management and optimize the use of existing facilities and resources.
This year, according to her, financing for higher education in Malaysia is experiencing a reduction in budget, affecting all public universities, from RM7.57 billion in 2016 to RM6.12 billion in 2017, or 19.2%. As for UPM, the reduced allocation stood at 29.7% as compared to the previous year.
UPM accepted this hard reality and the trend of reduction in government funding for university operations, she said, adding UPM was moving towards asset monetization through 10 university entities which are facilities and equipment belonging to university that had been identified as being able to generate a steady income.
“Reduction in budget for the country’s higher education sector has resulted in stiff competition for bidding of research grants from government funds. Therefore, we can no longer fully rely on government funds but rather explore other funding resources, whether at national or international levels,” she said.
According to her, one of the approaches to be adopted by the university in confronting challenges in getting research funding is through collegiality. - UPM
Updated:: 15/03/2017 [idah]
43400 UPM Serdang
Selangor Darul Ehsan