Assalaamu’alaikum wbt. and Warm Greetings,
Malaysia is undergoing a myriad of transformations in the field of research and innovation in higher education. Globalisation has resulted in increased mobility, collaboration and a revolutionary change in the way we teach and learn. Institutions of higher learning in Malaysia are all (eventually) expected to teach well, provide excellent consultancy, conduct world class research and be financially sustainable. Researchers and post graduate students through the Centres of Excellence in a university are increasingly expected to undertake multi-disciplinary research which is internationally cited, have high impact and contribute to the nation’s productivity.
Research and innovation is expected to play a major role in shaping Malaysia’s economy in this century. Job creation and an improvement in quality of life is expected from the investments the Malaysian government has made in recent years. Malaysia’s future economic wellbeing and its ability to break out of the middle income trap it finds itself in depends very much on its success in transforming its economy into an innovation-led one. This is by no means an easy task, research has taken a backseat for many years and it is only now that significant amounts of funds are being made available for research. Global Warming, Infectious Diseases, Tropical Medicine, Energy and Water Safety, Food Adequacy, Advanced and Value - Added Manufacturing and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) have been identified as strategic niche areas which the country needs to focus on.
A flurry of new initiatives for research, development and innovation have taken place since 2006. A number of universities were given research university status, world university rankings are made part of the National Higher Education Strategic Plan, Higher Institution Centres of Excellence (HICoEs) were planned and significantly larger amounts of money were pumped into research with the creation of a myriad of research grant schemes.
In line with the demands of Malaysia’s New Economic Model, the University of Malaya (UM) is undergoing a transformation in many areas. As Malaysia’s first university, UM is gearing up to be a major global player in research, innovation, publication and teaching. As part of its contribution to the National Higher Education Strategic Plan, UM is aiming to be a World Top 100 University by 2015. UM has taken initiatives and formulated strategies to expand its research agenda to 2015 and beyond. Towards this end, a conducive environment to further develop a robust research and innovation culture among researchers has been provided. The Kompleks Pengurusan Penyelidikan & Inovasi was built with the intention of providing a centralised research management facility for researchers within and outside the campus. Units managing research, innovation and commercialization are placed together under one roof to provide the best management facility to advance research and innovation.
What is the future for UM research? There is no other way forward other than to continue and perhaps enhance what it is doing now. Funding must necessarily increase but some streamlining is necessary. Bottom-up fundamental research projects are fine but directed bottom-up fundamental research would be better as resources are finite and should not be squandered. Directed research and development projects to solve real world issues must take priority over “pie-in-the-sky” research. A smaller amount can be left for newly emerging and “blue ocean” projects but even such projects need to be justified in some way. Returns on investment (social or otherwise) as well as researcher accountability must be a permanent guiding principle of the permanent research agenda and culture.
Recently UM has drawn up new strategies and action plans to push forward its research agenda and make it a truly world class research university. The research culture is now beginning to take root in UM. This culture still needs to be nurtured but the signs for the future are good. There is no other way but to move the research agenda quickly forward and the UM community knows this.
As Malaysia’s premier Research University, UM will have even more research activities, collaboration, partnerships and engagements with the other universities and industry locally and abroad to share and capitalise on leading-edge research carried out by its researchers. Enhanced collaboration amongst the region's research universities and industry can lead to thriving networks for research innovation, commercialization and sharing of results on the next generation renewable energy technology, climate change, ocean science and health sciences. UM’s role in leading Malaysian research and innovation will be its everlasting contribution to Malaysia’s New Economic Model and the coveted developed country status. The question is not whether UM can lift research and innovation to be truly world class but when and how quickly this will happen.
Which brings us to the UM Research website. The UM Research website aims to disseminate information to existing and potential researchers, stakeholders and the community at large. By exploring through its pages, one will be enlightened with current information on UM research activities, expertise, infrastructure and services.
Welcome to the UM Research Website.
Professor Dr. Noorsaadah Abd. Rahman
Deputy Vice -Chancellor (Research & Innovation)
Level 8, Chancellery
University of Malaya
50603 Kuala Lumpur