Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) continues on its upward path, rising three places to 34 in the QS Top 50 Under 50 world rankings announced on 22nd June 2018.
University ranking exercises heavily favour older and larger institutions, making UBD's rise even more remarkable. Since its publication in 2012, the QS Top 50 Under 50 highlights some of the world's fastest rising young universities. For young universities, UBD is now ranked 16th in Asia and 6th in ASEAN. Among small universities based on QS World University Rankings, UBD is ranked 16th in the world, 5th in Asia and number 1 in ASEAN.
This 33-year old university makes up for its relative youth with strong drive and a clear vision; to empower future-ready leaders through innovative education and enterprising research driven by national aspirations and guided by the values of Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB). As a national university, UBD aims to contribute to the economic development and diversification of Brunei Darussalam. In a knowledge-based economy, those who are best able to innovate are the best able to succeed. UBD seeks to produce graduates who will play a role in the social and economic development of the country.
One of the key reasons UBD rose up the QS Top 50 Under 50 rankings is that it has made significant leaps in research and innovation. UBD has shifted from a fundamentally teaching university to a university of teaching excellence and research. QS has acknowledged and ranked UBD as a "high-research intensive" university.
Research in UBD covers areas that are relevant to Brunei Darussalam. It conducts applied research that is not only high in academic value but also high in economic and social impact. These include studies on green energy, herbal and medicinal plants, and pharmacology.
UBD is taking great strides in studying the feasibility of green energy in Brunei Darussalam. One result of this research on renewable energy is the recently patented wind turbine that is able to generate energy in locations with low to moderate wind profiles. Kinetic and solar energy research in UBD have resulted in working prototypes, such as the UBD Flyer 2000. It contributes to the power supply of the Simpur Café, a UBD-owned café that operates in the campus premises. Other industries have also shown interest in this technology and UBD may see its commercialisation in the very near future.
In the recently officiated Botanical Research Centre, the medicinal potential of various herbs and plants are being studied. Researchers take cues from tradition and folklore to better understand local plants which have been used to treat common ailments such as pucuk pawas (litsea elliptica blume), sambah bagangan and simpor bini/laki. A particular subject of interest at the centre is the many benefits of stingless bee honey (Madu Kelulut) which has great potential for the commercialisation of local food products and supplements.
Research excellence requires a pool of talented graduate students in addition to high quality academic staff. From having only 2 percent graduate students, UBD increased its graduate student population to over 30 percent in 2017.
While pursuing research excellence, UBD continues to hold dialogues with industries and forge public-private partnerships in order for researchers to effectively translate their knowledge and research into innovations, enterprise and commercialisation. Collaboration with government agencies such as Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) and Department of Economic Planning and Development (JPKE) produce innovative employment opportunities for its graduates.
One of the key strategic directions of the university has been to partner with companies in the private sector to set-up research and development projects. Its Industry Liaison Office actively engages with industries to develop joint research and development. These international collaborations help to set up innovation labs and execute cutting-edge projects utilising principles such as Internet of Things (IoT). Innovative use of IoT sees its applications in a variety of scenarios including environmental monitoring and disaster management. Another collaborative area that UBD is looking into is cybersecurity.
One of the key principles of UBD's curriculum is embedding innovation and entrepreneurship. Instilling important attributes in graduates such as valuable leadership skills and environmental awareness, students in UBD are encouraged to also pursue enterprise through its GenNEXT programme. UBD employs a multidisciplinary approach in instilling an entrepreneurial mindset in its students regardless of their areas of study. The focus of the programme is to educate the future generation to be leaders in their respective industries.
Modules offered in UBD boost their confidence and give them the initial taste of entrepreneurship. UBD also continues to provide support for students through the Entrepreneurship Village, as well as pave the way for collaborations with agencies such as Darussalam Enterprise (DARe). There, they acquire the necessary training, learn how to fund their projects and network with industry experts. UBD is setting up the Innovation Wharf which is an area where products, prototypes and innovative projects by students and staff are showcased in the UBD library.
UBD simple start-ups have the potential to evolve from small scale, individual efforts and eventually blossom into large scale businesses which employ Bruneians. In addition to diversifying Brunei Darussalam's economy, they also address issues of unemployment as their foray into entrepreneurship also moves into the field of job creation.
"We would like to thank His Majesty's Government for the continuous support and Alhamdulillah, UBD has marked another major milestone by rising up the QS Top 50 Under 50," Datin Dr Hajah Anita Binurul Zahrina Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Wijaya Dato Seri Setia Haji Awang Abdul Aziz, Vice Chancellor of UBD said. "While UBD continues to pursue commercialising research, our ranking shows that we are already a world-class university that can provide the best education and training for our students to prepare them to be leaders contributing to the long-term sustainable development and growth of Brunei Darussalam, Insya Allah".
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