UTB shortens degree courses

Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB) is shortening the duration of its undergraduate degree programmes from four years to three years in an effort to make its graduates more competitive in the job market.

After undertaking the necessary research, UTB discovered that four-year programmes were less attractive to prospective students compared to universities offering three-year degrees similar to those in the United Kingdom (UK), Australia and other countries.

“This restructuring of our academic programmes would align us with other universities in the world and make collaboration with them easier,” said UTB Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Hajah Zohrah binti Haji Sulaiman.

“The shorter duration of study will also provide students early entry into the job market, giving them an edge over students in four-year programmes.”

She added that having shorter courses would make the university more attractive to prospective students – both local and international – and would present a competitive strategy to boost UTB enrolment.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic still causing uncertainty, more local students will not be able to study abroad, so we want to present the best possible options to them.”

Among 569 respondents polled for the survey – comprising prospective students, industry professionals and members of the public – an overwhelming 79 per cent said they would prefer a three-year degree programme.

Dean of the School of Design Assistant Professor Dr Ahmad Syamaizar bin Haji Ahmad Sabli. PHOTO: UTB

“It would shorten the time required for academic study and produce more professionals for industries where there is a shortage of skilled workers, such as ICT. Our objective is to provide students with shorter courses that are relevant, agile and more fitting to the work in relevant industries. We want to ensure that the skills and knowledge learnt here are still relevant after three years, and not quickly forgotten,” said the Vice-Chancellor

For the 2021/2022 intake, the duration of study will be reduced to three years for the following programmes:

– All Bachelor of Business (Honours) degree programmes at the School of Business.

– All Bachelor of Sciences (Honours) degree programmes at the School of Computing and Informatics; School of Applied Science and Mathematics; the School of Design; and Centre for Communication, Teaching and Learning (CCTL).

The duration of study will also be reduced to three years for the current cohort of BSc (Hons) Architecture students from the 2018/2019, 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 intakes.

The university will also offer several new degree programmes this year for the 2021/2022 intake are: BSc (Hons) in Fashion Design and Technology, BSc (Hons) in Agrotechnology (Minor in Business), BSc (Hons) in Mathematical Finance, BSc (Hons) Communication, MSc (by coursework) in Communication – Full-time, and MSc (by coursework) in Communication – Part-time.

As the first local higher education institute to offer fashion design, prospective students would be pioneers in Brunei’s budding fashion industry.

“This course is a pathway for them to become entrepreneurs in the fashion industry,” said Dean of the School of Design Assistant Professor Dr Ahmad Syamaizar bin Haji Ahmad Sabli.

“Globally, the fashion industry is valued at USD3 trillion. This programme will directly support the creative industry in Brunei and has the potential to expand regionally and globally.”

Dr Ahmad Syamaizar said future students have shown interest in the course with over 50 per cent of respondents saying they would be interested in enrolling.

In another milestone for Brunei, UTB will offer the country’s first agrotechnology degree to create more local experts in the Sultanate’s emerging agriculture industry.

“Growth of local agricultural sectors and business can be expected to be significant in coming years,” said Dean of the School of Applied Sciences and Mathematics Dr Namasivayam Navaranjan.

“An undergraduate programme in agricultural technology is currently not locally available to provide graduates to the growing manpower demands in the sector.”

Asked how UTB’s programme will differ from agricultural programmes offered at vocational schools, Dr Namasivayam said the degree will provide students more understanding of the impact of global and local policy on the agricultural economy, in addition to providing practical experience and field work.

“Our agrotechnology programme provides the theoretical and practical knowledge in agribusiness, as well as in traditional and modern technology of sustainable agriculture.”

The School of Applied Sciences and Mathematics will also introduce a new undergraduate degree in Mathematical Finance, where students will learn mathematical and statistical techniques to analyse large datasets of financial data.

“The financial sector has become more skill-intensive than the rest of the economy. Employability in the modern financial industry requires technical skills to analyse financial data and build mathematical models,” said Dr Namasivayam.

He added that graduates will be qualified to start careers as financial analysts, research associates, quantitative traders, actuaries, and they will possess a competitive set of skills for jobs where quantitative analysis and data-handling is vital.

The last set of new programmes for 2021 comes from the CCTL, which will offer a BSc in Communication and a MSc in Communication (by coursework) for both full-time and part-time students.

The undergraduate programme aims to develop students’ communicative ability through verbal and non-verbal outlets, while exposing them to the current communicative theories and practices.

The masters programme focusses on the development of critical thinking and equips graduates with a higher level of professional knowledge.

“These courses are intended for those who want to be skilled writers or speakers and exceptional communicators,” said Dean of the CCTL Dr Norihan binti Abu Hassan.