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Zul Azhar Zahid Jamal (left) receiving the Autonomous Status certificate from Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik (second from left). With them are UniMAP chairman of the board of directors Brigadier General Datuk Professor Emeritus Dr Kamarudin Hussin (second from right) and UMS chairman of the board of directors Datuk Dr Mohd Sofi Osman (right).

UNIVERSITI Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP) vice-chancellor Professor Datuk Dr Zul Azhar Zahid Jamal said with the recently acquired autonomous status, the tertiary institution is given the opportunity to determine its strategic direction and has freedom to voice its opinions.

He said the university’s board members have always worked hand-in-hand with the management to propel the institution to excellence.

Established in 2001, UniMAP is the country’s 17th public university. Originally known as Kolej Universiti Kejuruteraan Utara Malaysia, it was renamed UniMAP in 2007.

The first intake consisted of 116 engineering students who started classes in June 2002. Currently, the university has 11,000 students and it offers engineering and business programmes at various levels from bachelor’s to postgraduate.

UniMAP was granted autonomous status on Oct 4 this year after it passed an audit of its readiness.

“Now that we have achieved autonomy, the next stage is to work on governance enhancement. The roles and responsibilities of the board and university management are clearly delineated in the Ministry’s Guide to Assessing Governance Enhancement. Both enjoy a complementary relationship built through healthy engagement based on trust and respect.

“The role of the board does not involve operational details of running the university. We find this model most useful and efficient. The board recently endorsed the university’s strategic plan, UniMAP 2025, which comprises the overall direction of the university, leaving the effectual approaches to the wisdom of UniMAP’s administration.

“We look forward to growth as we put the plan into action,” said Zul Azhar, adding that the journey towards autonomy was enlightening to the university.

As a higher learning institution whose business is the production of talent, it is required to be on its toes, ready to move and change as and when necessary to produce the best.

“If we excel in producing excellent students, it is all well and good. But if we do a bad job, then the results could be damaging, not only for the student but also the nation’s economy due to low productivity of its human capital.

“With autonomy, we can breathe a little easier. While we understand that autonomy does not give us absolute power and we are still subject to act within the parameters of the regulatory framework, there are areas where we will be able to act faster and more effectively in response to the dynamic environment, thus ensuring that we sustain our competitiveness.

“The biggest advantage is the university is able to differentiate itself from others. Worldwide, many institutions are redefining themselves against the backdrop of the global environment and original purpose of their existence.”

Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) Strategic and Corporate Communications Center spokesperson said with the autonomous status, the role of the board as decision-makers will continue to be strengthened in line with their responsibilities to ensure there is accountability in the use of university resources.

“With autonomy, stakeholders at UMS are entrusted to work together to achieve excellence and propel it onto the world stage.”

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