CAMES Postgraduate Symposium: Techno-Economic studies of Microgrid for Sustainable Development Goals
Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) continues its remarkable trajectory of growth in the latest Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings, moving up to 250th place. Since it broke into the QS World University Rankings at position 349 in 2017, UBD has risen up to be in the top 1 percent out of over 26,000 universities globally since last year.
The recent announcement by QS showed that UBD performed particularly well, improving in all six indicators. Its strongest indicator, International Faculty, placed among the top 50 in the world. This indicator along with Faculty-Student Ratio and International Students also sees UBD performing better than the global average. UBD has also made significant improvements in Academic Reputation and Employer Reputation.
Ranking exercises aid in gauging the success of the university's efforts to ensure the highest possible quality of teaching and learning. These efforts by the university's academic staff aim to produce graduates who are future-ready and relevant to the economy, imbued with the values of Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB). UBD places great emphasis on preparing students for the workplace of the future, focusing on real-world experiential learning. Learning objectives embedded in UBD's flagship GenNEXT programme are leadership and innovation, entrepreneurship and environmental awareness. Executed well, these prepare UBD graduates to be job and market ready, including venturing into the private sector, becoming successful job-creating entrepreneurs and active contributors to the country's economic development.
This is in line with the Titah of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, Chancellor of UBD, at the university's 31st Convocation Ceremony in 2019 which emphasised creating job opportunities and future-ready graduates who are not reliant on existing jobs. His Majesty also called for multidisciplinary entrepreneurship projects that can contribute towards economic growth, supporting the development of Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSME).
UBD established the Entrepreneurship Village (EV) in 2014 with the aim to equip students with the necessary skills to turn their talents into viable businesses. As an entrepreneurial platform in UBD for start-up growth and entrepreneurship education development, it ensures the implementation of entrepreneurship education across the university. To date, EV has helped launch a total of 343 startups in areas such as technology, design, food and beverage and various other services.
The recently officiated UBD Startup Centre (USC) is a platform for UBD alumni to explore entrepreneurial ideas and work with other alumni or current students from multidisciplinary backgrounds and interests. This initiative also aims to develop UBD research project ideas with the intention of elevating them further towards commercialisation, which is in line with UBD's vision to be a University of Innovation and Enterprise. Active alumni startups under USC currently include Wallepp, a mobile solution that digitalises membership and loyalty programs; Smart Coating Technologies, a UBD spin-off company that commercialises anti-bacterial and anti-fungal photocatalytic coating technologies developed at the university; and AiCreativv, a duo of designers that craft purposeful and impactful brand identities, social media, logos and other visual media.
Imamull Qhaeer, Co-Founder and Brand Strategist of AiCreativv shared how UBD's GenNEXT curriculum allowed them to explore beyond their majors - from languages to extracurricular activities. "This helped us open up our minds and learn that we are not limited to our majors and that we are allowed to explore different things," he said, speaking on behalf of Co-Founder and Creative Director Amal Osmera who graduated with a BA in Sociology.
"During our Discovery Year, we both got the chance to go to Da Nang, Vietnam for an Internship in the first semester, and then Community Outreach Project (COP) in the second semester. We were tasked with media, event management, teaching, planning, all sorts of skills that we had to learn on the spot," he added. "Other UBD students in our batch who went with us felt the same way. Some were good at certain things and they helped everyone else. It was all about teamwork. We got to meet people from different countries such as Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Korea and locals from all walks of life. The second semester we were given the roles of Leader and Asst. Leader, a big challenge for introverts like us, but this is where we learned the most, and felt thrilled to dive into new things and eventually grow. We learned that teamwork and collaboration leads to great things."
After graduating, the COVID-19 pandemic struck and the duo realised it was necessary to push themselves to start something. They hopped on an existing startup and did designing work before deciding to start AiCreativv with guidance from USC. "We learned that the analytical skills from our majors were applicable in certain areas of our crafts," Imamull said, a BSc in Geology graduate. "We approached people who have done it longer than us in the creative industry and learned what it's like."
"USC has taught us many things. Not just about how to do business, but also how to approach it. We are supported by advice, mentorship and guidance since day one," he said. "As science students entering into the business world, there's a lot of mindset adjustments that need to be done. USC has shaped us in such a way that we see difficulties as challenges and failures as growth. USC has not only provided a space for us to work, but also a place filled with business minded students. It's a healthy environment that helps us keep our conversations very constructive."
While AiCreativv mainly focuses on Brand Identities, Social Media and other Visual Media, they collaborate with other talented creatives when clients require an extension of their services. "When we have bigger projects, we usually collaborate with other creatives and businesses to strategically come up with solutions. By collaborating, we are in a way supporting each others' businesses, and we can assure the clients that we'll get the best people in their respective fields to deliver great results from continued collaborative efforts, Imamull added. "We are looking into the possibility of having DY students as interns in the near future."
UBD believes that innovation and entrepreneurship plays a role in accelerating economic growth and creating employment opportunities. It provides students with the required skills and knowledge through the Bachelor of Business, major in Entrepreneurship, under the UBD School of Business and Economics (UBDSBE). This aims to equip students with the key skills in entrepreneurship, innovation management, entrepreneurial finance, starting up new ventures, venture growth strategies, and the key skills needed to be self-employed or for taking up employment as entrepreneurial or innovation managers within larger private or public sector organisations. The BA programme's learning objectives will improve the career prospects of the future students as innovative entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial managers, acquiring skills that will enable them to move from the idea generation stage to fully creating businesses and innovation projects based on strong understanding of starting, financing, marketing, managing and operating successful entrepreneurial businesses.
Focusing on the study and practical application of the key issues surrounding entrepreneurship and innovation, the programme particularly focuses on the new venture creation process but also innovation management within existing private and public organisations. Students study key entrepreneurship modules, such as Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation, Innovation Management, Entrepreneurial Finance, Venture Growth Strategies, Social Enterprise by Design, Environmental and Sustainable Entrepreneurship, Incubation, Startup Growth and Sustainability Project and Research Project. In addition, students study many of the traditional business modules such as: Introduction to Accounting, Principles of Business and Management, Principles of Economics, Business Information System, Business Ethics among others. The Entrepreneurship major will prepare students for careers as entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial managers in different types of organisations. It can help them to startup and grow their own new ventures, develop competencies for managing innovation, and develop growth strategies for existing private organisations or government owned organisations. For those interested in public policy, it can help students develop and design public policy for promoting entrepreneurship, and the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Through a multi-disciplinary approach, even non-business programmes from faculties such as the Faculty of Integrated Technologies (FIT) incorporate specific modules on innovation and entrepreneurship into its curriculum so that students can fully reap the benefits of obtaining an entrepreneurial mindset. Ongoing workshops have been conducted to help faculties and academic staff to create entrepreneurial learning content in their respective modules. With a myriad of possible applications in the real world, students may realise hidden potential that they can develop further after graduating.
"Alhamdulillah this achievement is only possible by the grace of Allah Subhanahu Wata'ala and and the strong support and vision of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, Chancellor of UBD as well as the sustained support of His Majesty's government," Vice Chancellor Datin Dr Hajah Anita Binurul Zahrina Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Wijaya Dato Seri Setia Haji Awang Abdul Aziz said in response to the ranking announcement. "UBD's consistent progress, climbing up to be one of the top 250 in the world now, is a result of the combined efforts of its dedicated staff and students. We hope to see even more initiatives from our staff and students that will not only bring the university to greater heights but also play a role in improving the lives of Bruneians and contributing to the development of the country."
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