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UMT chairman Tan Sri Halim Mohammad said there will be greater synergy, strength, skills, sharing of assets and economic benefits from the merger, as announced by the Education Ministry’s Higher Education Department, today.

KUALA LUMPUR: The merger of Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) and Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA) will provide greater benefits for all.

UMT chairman Tan Sri Halim Mohammad said there will be greater synergy, strength, skills, sharing of assets and economic benefits from the merger, as announced by the Education Ministry’s Higher Education Department, today.

Halim called on students and staff of both universities not to be unduly worried from the exercise as the government would take into consideration their feedback before making a firmer decision on their plans.

The undergraduates had initiated an online petition against the merger and plan to hold a protest rally tomorrow (Thursday).

“We must view positively the decision made by the cabinet (on Sept 4).

“I believe there is plenty of synergy that can be achieved through the harnessing of resources, that can be shared by both universities which are located closely (in Gong Badak, Terengganu).

“I advise the undergraduates not to react irrationally as it could have a negative impact on the universities which have existed for quite a long time,” he told a press conference at his office in Berjaya Central Park in Jalan Ampang.

Halim added that the ministry would certainly take into consideration the strengths of UMT in the fields of maritime, marine science, fisheries and aquaculture.

Likewise, he said, the merger would be able to tap into UniSZA’s expertise in management courses, Islamic studies and medical studies.

“I am confident, that as an experienced maritime practitioner, that the government will give serious thought of making Malaysia a great maritime nation in the Asia Pacific region.

“We have witnessed similar mergers of institutions of higher learning and universities in Britain and the United States, with greater savings and success in producing excellent graduates.

“Similar successful mergers have happened with banks, airlines and shipping companies,” he said.

Halim added that part of the merger initiative was to seriously address the unemployment of 200,000 graduates under the 10-year industrialistion programme from 2015.

He said universities have to keep up with changing times, change their current teaching methodology and trends, some of which were archaic, with courses that fit the requirements of the job industry.

“Marine knowledge is one of the fields that needs to be implemented as it offers plenty of job opportunities in the maritime, marine science and oceanography,” he said, adding that Malaysia had far too many universities, which were very expensive to maintain, for a small nation.

Currently, UMT has 10,200 undergraduates and employs 559 staff, while UniSZA has 10,400 undergraduates and 1,759 staff.

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