After recently breaking into the Times Higher Education (THE) Asia Rankings 2020 for the first time at 60th in Asia, Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) has continued its remarkable trajectory of growth in the latest Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings which was released yesterday, moving up 44 places to 254th in the world. Since it first broke into the QS World University Rankings at position 349 in 2017, UBD has continued its rise up the ranks, to 323 in 2018, 298 last year and now 254th in the world. With an estimated 26,000 universities in the world, UBD is now among the top one per cent of universities worldwide.
UBD performed particularly well in indicators such as international faculty, ranked 46th in the world; faculty-student ratio at 65th; and international students at 218th. UBD has also made significant improvements in academic reputation and employer satisfaction.
Ranking exercises improve UBD’s reputation both locally and internationally, as well as confirming the success of the university’s efforts to ensure the highest possible quality of teaching and learning, to produce graduates who are future-ready and relevant to the economy, imbued with the values of Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB). UBD places great emphasis on preparing students for the workplace of the future, focussing on real-world experiential learning. Learning objectives embedded in UBD’s flagship GenNEXT programme are leadership and innovation, entrepreneurship and environmental awareness. These prepare UBD graduates to be job and market ready, including venturing into the private sector, becoming successful job-creating entrepreneurs and active contributors to the country’s economic development.
This is in line with the titah of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, the Chancellor of UBD, at UBD’s 31st Convocation Ceremony in 2019 where His Majesty emphasised producing future-ready graduates who are capable of creating job opportunities and not reliant on existing jobs. His Majesty added that multidisciplinary entrepreneurship projects, if managed properly, can contribute towards eco-nomic growth, especially in supporting the development of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSME).
UBD established the Entrepreneurship Village (EV) in 2014. To date, over 300 start-ups have been founded by UBD students, with businesses that cover food and beverage, technology and a wide range of services. Many graduates have moved on to become successful entrepreneurs, opening doors for themselves and providing opportunities for others. EV provides foundational entrepreneurship education with the embedded values of sustainability and service to the community. It provides an entrepreneurial platform for students to start their own businesses.
Muhammad Azizi Amidi bin Haji Rusli’s dream of “becoming the CEO of a gaming company, looking out of a window and seeing employees hard at work,” became a reality after developing his first prototype under the EV mentorship during his Discovery Year in 2019. The Bachelor of Arts in Economics student founded the gaming company, Silent Resolve Games as part of his Incubation programme and now has a crew of designers and programmers.
For Nor Syariena @ Nor Diyanah binti Abdul Rahman, starting up Panther Guild began as a personal journey of self-empowerment and advocacy for women. “Doing business without goals is the same as sailing along aimlessly,” she said, crediting her time at EV with helping her to develop skills to focus and strategies to expand the market.
Muhammad Abdul Qawi Shafiq bin Haji Shrom knew that he wanted to go into the Incubation programme for his Discovery Year. At its peak, Hiswey Event Management had five staff and successfully handled product launches. He sees the great advantages of being self-employed, including the opportunity to provide jobs for others. While his experience was “not necessarily easy,” he noted that starting is important. While he considers himself a sociable person, sessions with EV trained him to speak up in public. “Pitching is not a problem anymore,” he shared. “It also let me put theory into practice.”
UBD launched The Startup Centre (USC) in collaboration with DARe (Darussalam Enterprise) recently. It provides opportunities for UBD alumni and graduating students to take a chance to spin-off their innovative ideas into successful ventures. The initiative provides a platform and the ecosystem for start-up growth within the university that includes facilities, co-working space, mentoring and network support. It leverages on exposure to real market problems and opportunities, promoting multidisciplinary projects that aim to create employment through startups.
Data from QS shows that UBD has made significant leaps in terms of both academic and applied research. Key areas of research includes those in which Brunei Darussalam has a strategic advantage, including biodiversity and the environment, energy, Asian studies, Islamic Studies and governance, data analytics, herbal and medicinal research, and the latest addition of international education research. Applied research in UBD places an emphasis on innovations with commercial potential. Commercialisation efforts in the university include partnerships with private companies. Smart Coating Technologies (B) Sdn Bhd is an example of a spin-off company commercialising industrial coating technology which was developed in UBD. Research and development was carried out in collaboration with the Japan-based Pixela Corporation.
As a consequence of focussing on basic and applied research, UBD’s publications and impact have risen exponentially over the years. Over the last five years, UBD has recorded 1,431 papers and 12,500 citations. The university’s latest Field-Weighted Citation Impact (FWCI) is 1.38, which shows that its publications has 38 per cent more impact than the global average.
For the second year in a row, UBD has been ranked as a Very High Research Intensive University by QS.
“Alhamdulillah, this is only possible by the permission of Allah the Almighty and due to the sustained support of the Government of His Majesty,” Vice Chancellor Datin Dr Hajah Anita Binurul Zahrina binti Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Wijaya Dato Seri Setia Haji Awang Abdul Aziz said.
“UBD’s consistent progress is a result of the combined efforts of its dedicated staff and students. Climbing up 95 places over the last four years is no small feat and we hope to see even more initiatives from our staff and students that will not only bring the university to greater heights but also play a role in improving the lives of Bruneians and contributing to the development of the country.”