Govt aims for 60:40 science to arts ratio for development
Siti Hajar

AS THE world looks to the future with a firm focus on ICT, Brunei Darussalam’s higher education institutions were told to ensure that their programmes are geared towards meeting the demands of a more digitalised world.

In delivering a titah yesterday during Institut Teknologi Brunei (ITB)’s 26th Convocation for HND graduates and the first for the institute’s degree students, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam stressed that ITB should explore different aspects to elevate its status, especially since having matured into a university five years ago.

“It is time for ITB to step out from its comfort zone and make changes to transform itself whilst at the same time turning itself into an engineering and technology university that is of international standards,” said His Majesty, who is also ITB’s Chancellor.

Notwithstanding its small stature especially in terms of student population, His Majesty encouraged ITB to overcome reservations and take advantage of its size, which the monarch considers an advantage.

“Planning and implementing initiatives will be made easier, especially for a supplier of human resource that is relevant,” the ruler said and added that such a feat is not impossible especially when taking into consideration the achievements of California Institute of Technology, Caltech, that has become among the sought after engineering universities in the world with only 2,000 students.

The government, as explained by His Majesty, aims to see a 60:40 science to arts ratio as part of its national development plan and therefore, “ITB has the obligation to ensure that the programmes on offer are interesting to attract even more students who aim to pursue science”, added the monarch.

With the reasoning behind this stemming from the need to keep up with trends “dominated by ICT, multimedia, creative technology as well as becoming a knowledge-based economy that has compelled us to be prepared and responsive”, His Majesty reminded that the academic workforce is among the main components towards facilitating the success of an institution.

“With this, ITB is not exempted from providing quality educators that are of international standards,” and that, “There are a number of criteria that have become the benchmark to measure quality” which includes staff involvement and their contributions such as publications and collaborative research on a global scale.

In tandem with the strength of an institute’s workforce, His Majesty also emphasised that the quality of teaching, curriculum and the students themselves play a significant role in earning a name for an institute and the responsibility of offering degree programmes should not be taken lightly.

“It should be done neatly so as to ensure that ITB can produce graduates who are marketable with skills, who are in line with the needs of the industry and those who can face a dynamic future that is constantly changing.”

By having such a pool of human resource, His Majesty emphasised, will not just ensure economic growth but also reduce the number of unemployed youths, especially in an economic environment considered unpredictable.

“Higher education is still seen as one of the main keys in generating a viable economy,” said His Majesty and added that yesterday’s ceremony has multiplied the number of local youths who can help the national cause.

His Majesty expressed his appreciation for the work that has been carried out to secure the future of ITB’s graduates and took the opportunity to remind graduates that “An individual’s success is not measured by their educational achievements alone, but also by their holistic development”.

In celebrating their academic successes, His Majesty also highlighted, “Graduates need to equip themselves with components that will enable them to face any obstacle.” - Borneo Bulletin (29 November 2013)