UTM eyes top 50 in global rankings by 2020

By Anith Adilah
The Sultan Ibrahim Chancellery Building (right) and the Sultan Ismail mosque (left) of UTM. ― Malay Mail pix

JOHOR BARU, April 11 — Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) is on track to realise its aspiration to be recognised as a world-class centre of academic and technological excellence.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International) Prof Nordin Yahya said the university’s global visibility had improved over the years as evident in its number of foreign students.

“We have over 3,200 international students from over 60 countries. Most of them are here to pursue their Master’s degree and doctorate,” he told Malay Mail.

“This tells us that we have built quite a remarkable reputation, especially in the fields of engineering and technology, and garnered public confidence.”

Nordin said UTM has the highest employability rate among local universities at 83 per cent.

“Considering our field of expertise is engineering, this shows that our graduates are highly employable. A portion of the remaining 17 per cent chose to stay unemployed for a period of time or had a change of career path,” he said.

He said the university would be holding another round of its annual career fair on April 18 and 19 involving 56 companies.

Nurul Shahirah Mohd Sabri, 24, a Master’s degree student in Chemical Engineering checks the performance of membranes at the Advanced Membrane Technology Research Centre, UTM.

“Companies are willing to come to our campus to recruit because they know they would not get the crème de la crème if they are a step too late,” he said.

“This time around we’ll see the participation of 40 multinational, four international and 12 local companies. Some 20 interviews and 12 career talks will also be held.”

Nordin said UTM aimed to be in the top 50 of the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings by Faculty (Engineering and Technology) by 2020 through a masterplan called the UTM Global Plan.

The plan, established in 2012, is executed in three phases with the last phase expected to kick off in 2018.

“We are currently holding engagement sessions with stakeholders and other academic peers before kicking off the third phase (2018-2020) next year,” he said.

Nordin said UTM was optimistic it would be able to realise its goal of climbing up the rankings.

“Last year we stood at 100 and this year we climbed up another 10 spots to 90. In the span of three years, we managed to climb 43 steps. With the final leg of the Global Plan set to be executed next year, we are confident in our ability to keep on climbing the rank,” he said.

Prof Nordin Yahya said UTM is optimistic about climbing up global rankings despite a major hurdle in research funding.

He revealed one of the main challenges faced by the university was the lack of research funds which affected the output of its students.

“Times are hard. We have less money for research and scholarships. The funds allocated by the government is offered through competitive bidding. With less money at stake, the competition naturally gets stiffer,” he said.

“However, it inspires us to work with industry players, alumni, and the government to enhance our efficiency. I would not call this a hindrance but rather, a driving force.”

Nordin said UTM also planned to emulate the model used in other top-notch international universities, especially in Australia and the United States, where industry players help with the resources.