Joyous day for over 1,000 graduates at UBD’s 26th Convocation
Izah Azahari

IT WAS a joyous occasion for 1,118 graduates of Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) yesterday at the 26th Convocation Ceremony. Graduates celebrated their great achievement at UBD’s Chancellor Hall graced by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, Chancellor of UBD. A total of 1,020 graduates received certificates from the caring monarch during the morning session.

Accompanying His Majesty was His Royal Highness Prince (Dr) Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Pro-Chancellor of Universiti Brunei Darussalam.

This year saw graduates from the second batch of UBD’s distinctive GenNext programme, with the university producing a record high of 12 PhD graduates.

Of the total, 394 comprised Masters Holders and 612 are Bachelors graduates. There were 15 Postgraduate Diploma recipients, 10 recipients of Advanced Diplomas and 73 Diploma graduates.

The highly anticipated event began with the reading of verses from the Holy Quran followed by the arrival of His Majesty and His Royal Highness the Crown Prince into the hall of awaiting graduates.

The event then continued with a welcoming speech by the Vice-Chancellor of UBD, Dato Paduka Dr Haji Zulkarnain bin Haji Hanafi. In his speech, he highlighted that the graduation yesterday was also to celebrate undergraduates who were the first batch of students to enter the UniBridge programme introduced in 2010 for students who could not meet the admission requirements for undergraduate level.

“Five students who have undergone the UniBridge programme have successfully passed in First Class. The initiative through the UniBridge programme is one of the ways to increase the entries to higher education and to indirectly increase the highly educated workforce for the development of the country,” added the Vice-Chancellor.

The Vice-Chancellor also highlighted that the highest number of students accepted into UBD in the field of science and engineering totalled to 48 per cent for the new intake, which is in line with His Majesty’s wish to increase the country’s capacity in the following fields.

Moreover, the Vice-Chancellor said that the number of PhD graduates this year is one that UBD can be proud of comprising Graduate Research Scholarship award recipients by His Majesty during the 22nd Convocation Ceremony in 2010. Through this programme, the graduates have successfully contributed a total of 53 research-based journal papers and some were produced in the form of patents.

The Vice-Chancellor also said that an award was given to the 12 PhD graduates for a recent UBD finding through a new method of detection of non-halal elements in food that takes only a minute or two compared to an hour using the conventional way. This was in addition to the first award given for the international patent in designing a tape casting machine.

With these efforts, it is hoped to be the starting point of commercialisation for UBD as well as through the establishment of an industry liaison office, focusing in research in the fields of Islamic Banking and Finance and Halal Branding that will become the niche for the Faculty of Business, Economics and Policy Studies (FBEPS), where it has now been renamed to UBD School of Business Economics.

Following the Vice-Chancellor’s welcoming speech, His Majesty consented to deliver a Titah followed by the presentation of certificates to graduates.

This year’s convocation also featured an exhibition on UBD’s Discovery Year that showcases internationalisation and entrepreneurship within the university.

As part of the GenNext programme, students are to undertake one of the four programmes of Discovery Year – the Study Abroad Programme (SAP), Internship (INT), Community Outreach Programme (COP) and Innovation and Incubation Project (INC).

The Discovery Year aims to develop students’ personally, academically and professionally by providing opportunities to engage in local and international communities, aimed at creating exposure to the professional workplace and business world.

At the event, His Majesty also consented to partake in a Skype session with students currently doing their Discovery Year in partner universities around the world in their third year in Zhejiang University, China; the University of Auckland, New Zealand; University Malaysia Sabah, Malaysia; Phu Yen Continuing Education Centre, Vietnam and University of Arizona, USA.

The convocation event ended with graduates taking the opportunity to personally thank His Majesty and take photo opportunities with the benevolent ruler as well as HRH Prince (Dr) Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah.

In May 2014, UBD broke into the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings for the first time, taking the 171st place out of 180.

UBD is now positioned among the top 50 universities in Asia in five criteria, including international students, faculty-student ratio and in-bound exchange students. Last year, the university also saw a significant increase in international students, underlining the increasing recognition that UBD is gaining worldwide.

A Convocation Festival themed ‘Youth with Vision’ is also being held in conjunction with the 26th Convocation, with a number of activities and exhibitions lined up to showcase the university.

The activities include ‘Creative Islam’ and ‘The Colours of UBD’ video competition to showcase life in the UBD campus.

A blood donation drive was also held along with cultural events highlighting Brunei traditions such as kite-flying and Gulintangan, in addition to various competitions for the public.

The finale of the Convocation Festival will be the UBD Green Run, a charity run to promote healthy and green living, which will take place on September 14. - Borneo Bulletin (7 September 2014)