Four New Research Niches For UKM

Friday, 12 April 2013 14:52
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By Saiful Bahri Kamaruddin
Pix Shahiddan Saidi

BANGI, 11 Apr 2013 – The National University of Malaysia (UKM) has added four more research niches to its existing eight and given RM20 million extra funding from the govenment increasing to RM100 million this year.

The new niches are Rural Transformation; Education, Culture and Civilization; Politics and Security as well as Economics and Finance.

This was announced by Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Inovation affairs), Profesor Dato’ Dr Rahmah Mohamed at a briefing here today on the role of the new niches in the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) of the nation.

The four new niches and their coordinators are:

New Niche


Politics and Security

Assoc. Prof. Dr Rashila Ramli

Rural Transformation

Assoc. Prof. Dr Madeline Berma

Economics, Finance and Business

Prof Dr Nor Ghani Mohd Nor

Education and Civilizations

Prof Dr Lilia Halim

An allocation of RM1 million has also been made for an Internationalisation of Bahasa Melayu project which will be headed by Deputy Vice Chancellor (Students and Alumni Affairs) Prof Dato’ Ir Dr Othman A Karim.

UKM’s existing eight research niche introduced in 2007 are:

1.  Challenges of Nation Building

2.  Development of Sustainable Region

3.  Advanced Energy

4.  Health Technology & Medicine

5.  Climate Change

6.  Biodiversity for Biotechnology Development

7.  ICT: Content-Based Informatics

8.  Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials

Prof Rahmah said the increase in the grant for research shows the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) and the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) of the Prime Minister’s Department are confident of UKM’s growing importance in the ETP. PEMANDU's main role and objective is to oversee implementation and assess progress of the ETP and the Government Transformation Programme.

She said the decision by the EPU to increase research grants also shows its confidence in the performance of the existing research niches and the quality of their work.

She mentioned that UKM is the only Malaysian public institution placed in the top 100 of the inaugural Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings. It is in joint 87th place with the American University of Beirut in Lebanon.

If UKM has found the right formula to be included in the rankings, then it would be worthwhile for the university to work on it so it can continue to be so recognised in the future.

Prof Rahmah said the main objective of participating in the rankings exercise was to benchmark the university with other research intensive institutions.

She said although the rankings do not necessarily measure a university's true worth, it cannot be ignored as it does provide information that is useful when planning strategies to reach research excellence.

It was good to know where UKM stood so that it could look at the additional efforts needed to become one of the best in the region.

UKM, she added, was also the only Malaysian institution which made it to the top 100 list of the inaugural Times Higher Education  for universities of less than 50 years old in 2012 when it was ranked at 98.

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