His Majesty visits UNISSA
By Amin Hosni

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday visited Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA).

His Majesty's visit to the university, located in Gadong, was the first since its establishment in 2007.

Upon arrival, His Majesty was greeted by Dr Hj Md Yusop bin Hj Awg Damit, UNISSA's Rector along with several Cabinet Ministers, deputy ministers and permanent secretaries.

His Majesty proceeded with an unexpected tour around the campus from classroom to classroom where the monarch was further greeted by faculty staff and had the opportunity to mingle with students and inquire about their studies before listening a briefing on UNISSA by the rector.

Later His Majesty delivered a titah.

UNISSA has four faculties offering educational programmes in the field of Arabic Language and Islamic Civilisation, Faculty of Usuluddin, Faculty of Syariah and Laws and Faculty of Business and Management Sciences.

The university has five research centres and units. The Centre for Promotion Knowledge and Languages Learning covers courses in skill that includes Arabic and English, ICT and Entrepreneurship. Meanwhile, Maddhab Shafi'i Research Centre was established specifically for researches in the field of Maddhab Shafi'i and 'Ahli Sunnah Wal Jamaah', a core philosophy of Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB).

Other centres include the Centre for Postgraduate Studies and Research, Information and Technology Unit and Educational Technology Unit.

UNISSA currently offers nine programmes in Bachelor's Degree level, of which all, except English streams in Bachelor of Islamic Finance, Law, and Business Management, are taught in Arabic language.

Higher educational courses include three programmes each in Master's Degree and Doctor's Degree

Undergraduates are also required to learn al-Quran, where reading, understanding and memorising, if not all, certain parts of the Quran is required as part of the university's mandatory course.

Currently, a Bruneian is undertaking a PhD in the Arabic Language, while a Malaysian and Kosovo national are taking their PhD in the field of Syariah.

All programmes are taken from the best practices that are found in universities renowned around the world, which includes Al-Azhar University and Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia.

To further maximise their learning potential, excellent undergrads will be given the opportunity to study abroad for a year during their third year. This year, some 14 undergrads have been sent to further their studies in the Middle East, Malaysia and the UK.

Since the establishment of UNISSA in 2007, 413 people including 24 international students have registered at the university. The figures have been rising from 106 in 2007 to 147 in 2008 and 160 this year.

UNISSA is expected to move to a permanent location in Kampong Ikas Bandung, Mukim Keriam, Tutong District once the campus site has been developed in 2012. It is currently in the process of finding a consultant in handling the project for the campus blueprint. - Borneo Bulletin (10th November 2009)