Autonomy Will Move UKM Towards Excellence

THURSDAY, 26 JANUARY 2012 20:48

By Abdul Ghani Nasir
Pix by Ahmad Shahiddan Idris

BANGI, 26 Jan. 2012 –Vice-Chancellor of the National University of Malaysia (UKM) Prof Tan Sri Dato’ Wira Dr Sharifah Hapsah Syed Hasan Shahabudin is confident the autonomy status given to UKM today will make it more cost effective and will rise to the occasion as it moves towards excellence.

In her message to staff and students of UKM she said:“Today we were given the letter to state that we were granted full autonomy by the Ministry of Higher Education.

I wish to thank and congratulate all the staff of UKM who have worked very hard for us to gain this status. It is well deserved because autonomy is not given on a platter. We have demonstrated we are capable of governing the university ourselves.

The four areas we were audited on showed our University’s Board of Directors (LPU) consist of the right people who are capable of making decisions in critical areas of finance and human resource.

Our senate is also able to make decisions on behalf of government agencies like the Public Services Department (JPA) and the Treasury.

Now with autonomy decisions on human resources lies with the University’s Board of Directors (LPU). Financial decisions, though  not all of it, will be given in stages. We have negotiated in some areas where we can be given autonomy for example there’s a rise in the ceiling where decisions can be made at the board level and not refer to the treasury.

This will expedite matters. Decision we made can be implemented without having to wait.

This is the meaning of autonomy for us. It is with responsibility and with accountability and we are able to make decisions faster and this will make us move towards excellence. So this is about autonomy at university level.

But I would like the faculties and PTJ to understand that autonomy is cascaded downwards. From now on for example faculties and institutes will have to know that autonomy is responsibility and accountability on their part as well and we will sit down to discuss this.

We will allocate certain amount of money for staff salaries and so on and you must know now how to manage your own affairs.

The sense of responsibility, being efficient and effective must be cascaded down if not it becomes meaningless.

UKM played a major role in developing the university of good governance and tools for measuring whether a university is prepared for autonomy.

Together with this we are developing another tool for evaluating the cost of each programme .

What we have done is to know things like staff salaries, resources to run programmes and the factors that go to its cost and the minimum number of students intake to maintain a particular course that will also be based on student-teacher ratio.

We allocated a certain amount based on the number of student intake and if you are not able to attract students with good teachers and with enough resources due to many reasons – maybe (they are) no longer relevant or without having enough good people to run it, then the faculty will have to think very hard what to do. You must learn what you want to do about it or you will lose the allocation.

You must then learn how to be accountable. You must learn how to be cost effective as well. Down to the faculty level.

You must think what action you might want to take, maybe to reorientate your staff, reskill them or do some other programmes.

Faculties will have to take note. You must think of being cost efficient in getting academic and support staff. Because that’s the money we allocated.

The Registrar or the Treasurer will no longer do it for you. Of course we will have training sessions on management for heads of departments, deans, deputy deans also leadership courses. We are preparing our people to face the autonomy.

At the end of the day it will make the university more cost effective. As we move more towards excellence we will rise as a university as envisaged of a university with autonomy.

We have a transformation plan already in UKM and now we must use this autonomy to push it even further to reach our goal in achieving excellence .

The main areas in our transformation plans have several features and one of this is the niche we developed in eight areas.

So we can focus and get things moving with multi-disciplinary team to work together for greater impact.

We have been able to achieve this in the research areas. You can also see this in the innovation park, the renewable energy park which can demonstrate the project or the community service.

We are also trying to work in the eight niche areas for community engagement and development and other important areas in the educational area. I believe this will be the way for us to improve quality and to attract people to do our programmes.