Thank You For The Great Memories!
An atmosphere of sadness, occasionally punctuated and consumed by anguished sobs, engulfed the hallowed walls of Universiti Kuala Lumpur’s Bestari Hall on July 29 2020.
It was a heartfelt emotional reception for all members of UniKL – from the top management down to service staff who had gathered to hear the final address by the university’s President and Chief Executive Officer Prof Dato’ Dr Mazliham Mohd Su’ud.
This special occasion was also broadcasted live through Microsoft Teams and streamed with staff and students in all 12 UniKL campuses nationwide.
After a journey lasting seven years as the third President and CEO of UniKL since 2013, Prof Dato’ Dr Mazliham leaves office today to take up the position as President of Multimedia University (MMU) on August 1, 2020.
Prof Dato’ Dr Mazliham was born in 1967 in Kampung Bindu in Batu Pahat, Johor and had his secondary school education at SMK Datuk Bentara Luar Batu Pahat. He holds a Diploma in Science, Bachelor and Master in Electronics Electrotechnics and Automation from University De Montpellier II, France, and PhD in Computational Intelligence and Decisions from University De La Rochelle, France.
He joined UniKL in 1996 as a lecturer at UniKL MFI, and later on held the position of Head of Department. In 2003, he was appointed the Dean of UniKL MFI and held various positions in the Chancellery including General Manager of UniKL Resources Sdn Bhd (URSB) in 2010 and UniKL Deputy President (Industrial Linkages) in 2012. Prof Dato’ Dr Mazliham was appointed President and CEO of UniKL in 2013.
Below is the University Address by Prof Dato’ Dr Mazliham Mohd Su’ud.
It is not easy for me to start this speech as today is the last university address for me in UniKL. Today marks the final day in office as President and CEO.
I feel so blessed to be with all of you for my final round of farewell. I have attended a lot of farewell events and engagement sessions with divisions and sectors. I started with RCMP followed by engagements with the Student Representative Council (SRC) and University Students Representative Council (USRC) who came here from all over the country. I also met the heads of so many divisions. This engagement session will give you the real situation of what is happening.
Seven years ago when I took over the position from YBhg Prof Dato’ Dr Abdul Hakim Juri, one of his advice to me was to take care of the RM60million reserve that he developed with the finance department. Immediately after I received the letter of appointment, I called Puan Nik (Eliza, CFO) and Dato’ Amir (Azhar Ibrahim – CMPO) to discuss this issue, especially on how we can expand this reserve from RM60m to RM1 billion.
In my opinion, any great university in the world has reserve funds that help them operate.
We cannot operate a university base only on student fees because this will not help the university to grow. This was the first element I discussed on financial matters, on how to raise funds to make sure we have enough reserve to help operate this university. Our aim is to have RM1 billion in our reserve fund. This will give us 30% of
the operating cost of the university. Our plan is student fees will contribute 60% of the operation cost, 10% will come from research and consulting and 30% from ROI.
Today, seven years after that through the hard work of Puan Nik and her team, we have managed to further develop the endowment we have in UniKL Malaysia France Institute (UniKL MFI) and UniKL British Malaysian Institute (UniKL BMI). Today the reserve in MFI is around RM90m and RM80m in BMI respectively. The reserve in UniKL from its initial sum of RM60m has increased to RM196m. I managed to maintain my promise to Dato’ Hakim that I will safeguard the initial RM60m reserve when he left this university.
The CFO and her team are doing a very good job and have managed to improve the reserve from RM60m seven years ago to RM196m today. We failed to get RM1billion but if we combine all the endowment and reserves we now have around RM360m. It is still far from the RM1 billon that we had projected and I think Prof Dr Shahrulniza (Musa) and his team will have to continue this. When I return after my three-year tenure in MMU I would like to see this reserve larger than what we have now.
This is one of the core elements of the university. I believe in the need to have this self-sustain status to reduce our dependency on student fees.
Apart from that what is important is the philosophy of this university. UniKL was established as a technical hands-on university. We have to always maintain this whatever our rankings are. Don’t forget we are a hands-on university. We started a lot of strategies and planning to make sure we can maintain this hands-on philosophy. One of the centres that we established was CITC (Centre for Instructional Technology & Curriculum) headed by Prof Ruzainah (Assoc Prof Ts Dr Ruzainah Ali@Jaafar). She is now the Dean of UniKL MICET. She had done a good job and I hope the documents that were produced will be used in all future training for lecturers to teach in UniKL.
A university should have students that reflect the character of the university. This is the reason why we developed SDCL (Student Development and Campus Lifestyle) and revamped the structure in SDCL. We also revamped subjects in the academic and technology sector that were put under SDCL. To do this I went to Johor and met the Dean of UniKL MITEC then Prof Dato’ Dr Khairanum (Subari) who agreed to join us here. Prof Dr Khairanum contributed a lot to UniKL. We managed to convince her to come to UniKL and help us develop SDCL. Thank you very much Prof Dr Khairanum.
The first idea is to rebrand the ‘UniKLian’ concept. It is a UniKL DNA and through this, we now have the GHOCS transcripts and all activities under SDCL. We produced students and alumni that now love UniKL. Our slogan now is ‘’We Are UniKL”.
We also developed an international partnership with the help of Prof Dato’ Dr Azanam (Shah Hashim) who was then the Dean of UniKL MICET when I took over. After a while, he was moved to International, Industrial & Institutional Partnership and we developed a lot of international partnership with foreign universities,
For us, the presence of international students will expose our local students to international culture. We don’t have money to send all our students for foreign exchange programmes as this will require a lot of budgets. If we reverse that and invite students from foreign universities to UniKL it will be beneficial to our students. They can understand their national culture. This is one of the reasons why we worked hard to bring in foreign students under our student exchange mobility programme from all
over the world. Today we have partners in Romania, Korea, Italy, Germany, France, Denmark and other universities in the world.
The UniKL DNA also needs facilities and Datuk Salmah (Hayati Ghazali) helped me a lot in developing facilities in UniKL and other delivery systems in aspects of UniKL. She helped us to improve our processes and also led the team together with Puan Mariam and other members to develop facilities to ensure the environment is conducive according to what UniKL DNA needed. I believe if you want to develop world-class students our facilities must also be of world-class standards.
Apart from all this, we also have to ensure the UniKL brand is the No 1 brand in the country. Dato’ Amir (Azhar Ibrahim) has done a lot in ensuring the UniKL brand is there. I’m very happy today that UniKL brand is one of the top brands in the country. But depending on the brand alone will not help us to survive. A Brand must come with quality. So the academic and technology sector handling all programmes and research work must work hard to ensure we deliver quality education and training to our students. Prof Dr Shahrulniza was the Dean of UniKL Malaysian Institute of Information Technology (UniKL MIIT) and we convinced him to join our team. I told Prof Dr Shahrulniza that my wish is that is he will one day replace me as President of UniKL.
To ensure quality, we introduced WE4Asia Strategic Plan. The WE4Asia Strategic Plan was developed through a lot of discussion with Deans and former Deputy Presidents of UniKL. Today we have developed WE4Asia with its four protocols namely Academic Excellence, University Experience, Graduate Life-long Enhancement and Sustainable Enterprise. I hope these four main WE4Asia protocols will bring us to greater heights. The aim of WE4Asia is for UniKL to obtain the status of being one of the top 200 universities in Asia. We are now ranked among the top 300-350. Today we are in the final year of WE4Asia and I hope next year we will improve further in our rankings to the top 290 and by next year QS 2021, we reach the 250 marks. This is a realistic target.
When I started WE4Asia a lot of staff and students did not believe in this. Today, I think if we did not have this W4Asia Strategic Plan UniKL will still have the same culture and mentality as before because we were established as a training institute. To develop this culture from a training institute into becoming one of the top universities in Asia is tough. We hope that with WE4Asia we can develop a new strategic plan for 2021-2030 that will bring UniKL to the world. I am confident by 2030 we will be one of the top universities in the world.
Today, the achievement of WE4Asia has taken UniKL to the same level as some of the established universities in Malaysia. I know some of the data I received from other universities shows UniKL’s achievements in terms of research and publications is far better than some of these universities. This proves that WE4Asia has moved us to the next level and to take us to a higher level we need another plan. Our initial suggestion is to call it UniKL and Beyond. The idea is to strategize and build UniKL as the top university in the world by 2030.
A lot of other things that we have done such as industrialmanship and teaching factory concept and of course the entrepreneurial division has been doing a lot of training to develop entrepreneurs. In industrialmanship we want our students to be exposed to the real work environment.
In some aspects, we need to rebrand an institute just as we did with IPROM (Institute for Product Design and Manufacturing) to MIDI (Malaysia Italy Design Institute). IPROM was having intake problems and we rebranded its name. I told the Top Management Members (TMM) that this was necessary. Now MIDI is doing well.
We also developed Asia Rail (UniKL MIDI) which is the training center for railway in Asia and Water Training Centre in UniKL MFI.
The Smart Classroom was also developed through a lot of effort by Prof Mariam and her team and now most of our campuses are equipped with smart boards. With this, I hope the lecturers can also change the way they use the smart boards. With this solution to using smart boards, I hope some of the lectures can be conducted in one place and students can follow these lectures from another campus.
The last thing that we plan to do is to establish a new concept called ‘Regional Campus’. This regional campus is to combine a few campuses into one big regional campus. The first thing that we will do is to combine UniKL Business School and UniKL MIIT into one regional campus. We can also consider having other regional campuses outside the city campus.
But a regional campus doesn’t mean that the Dean will have less responsibility. It is to share some of the possible shared services. The Deans will be fully responsible in managing their respective campuses. We hope this will continue and have better regional campus management and administration very soon.
Being No 1 in this organization there are times I have to make unpopular decisions. Rest assured I have always had UniKL interest above the rest and I always consulted by decisions with my colleagues in TMM and I even seek the opinions of the staff and student representatives. If you remember during the Beyond-C Challenge, we always had meetings with SRC and USRC at nights and late in the afternoons to discuss plans that we have to announce. We work together to achieve better results.
In 2016 we were caught in a regional phenomenon where there was a sudden decrease in student intake. This problem carried through 2016 to 2018 and after further efforts being made to resolve the problems, we can see improvements in 2019 and 2020 intake performance. Thank you very much to the MeSRA (Marketing, Student Recruitment & Admission) team in solving this issue.
We have a very good approach now on how to convince students to join us. With this new approach, we can see the increase in students in our intakes. Last but not least don’t forget We are UniKL!
With the sudden drop in revenue from 2016 onwards, we have to take all necessary action to ensure business continuity of UniKL. I know some universities have taken some drastic actions such as closing faculties and programmes that are not profitable and offered VSS to those affected staff. I will do such things to UniKL as we have our social responsibility not only to our students but also to our staff. There are bitter pills that we have to take such as cost optimization, budget cuts and ultimately freeze new positions and very small salary increase and promotional opportunities.
But I know the frustrations among most of us as we expect staff to work extra hard to take us out of the slum. With the Covid-19 pandemic far from over this will add further challenges to the operational and finances situation of the university. But I truly believe UniKL has the strength and the resilient business model that will enable us to come out from this harm and Inshallah (By the Grace of God) Prof Dr Shahrulniza and his
team, with the support of all of you, will be able to address this issue amicably and provide the best working environment and opportunities to everyone.
Everyone must always uphold the philosophy that UniKL was established as a developmental organization. We are entrusted to provide the best and affordable education opportunity to the society especially to those in B40 and M40 income groups. This is why our tuition fees are quite low compared to other private universities and the disparity in revenue to the increase in cost are substantially subsidized by other income streams generated from our commercial activities, consultations, grants and investments.
We are fortunate to have a very experienced and supportive Board of Directors and also the continuous support from MARA (Majlis Amanah Rakyat) who has given us the autonomy to manage and steer UniKL according to our plans and strategies. We must manage this philosophy as it has provided us with a stable foundation and a sustainable business model throughout the 18 years of our existence.
Don’t take unnecessary risk and let greed take the best out of us. My advice to the big UniKL family is ‘Be different and never say No. And question everything.’
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