The importance of the role that local institutions of higher learning (IHLs) play was recognised by the recent awarding of the Premier Digital Tech University and Preferred Digital Tech Polytechnic statuses to eight universities and five polytechnic institutions respectively. The awarding of these IHLs was jointly conducted by Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) together with the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) at Putrajaya on the 28thAugust 2017.
The Premier Digital Tech University status was awarded to Universiti Malaya, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi Mara, Multimedia University, Tunku Abdul Rahman University College, Sunway University, Taylor’s University and Asia Pacific University.
Meanwhile, the polytechnics that were awarded Preferred Digital Tech Polytechnic status were Politeknik Balik Pulau in Penang, Politeknik Mersing in Johor, Politeknik Sultan Idris Shah in Selangor, Politeknik Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin in Terengganu, and Politeknik Ungku Omar in Perak.
According to Minister of Higher Education, Dato’ Sri Idris Jusoh, these statuses represented another step in ensuring that Malaysia can bring forth the necessary world-class talent in the ICT field. “I want our talent to be even better than that produced by Carnegie-Mellon, and not just equivalent.” The Minister acknowledged that this was an ongoing process. “This effort will be continually improved upon by the institutions of higher learning, and most importantly, with cooperation with the industry itself, which blends well with our 2u2i and iCGPA programmes, in line with the Ministry’s Education Blueprint.”
“With the Ministry’s call to ‘soar upwards’, we at MDEC have been given the approval to push the envelope; to do something different that can move our needle for our talent development for the digital economy, which is critical for our nation – indeed, our PM has stated that by 2020, 1 million digital workers will be needed to fill the needs of the digital economy,” MDEC) chief executive officer Datuk Yasmin Mahmood said.
She added that given the disruption that the digital economy represents, Malaysia needs to have an approach that will bring the next generation to the next level. “Our children do have the mind-set to become digital innovators. We want to develop these digital innovators, and when we provide them the exposure they need, all this potential talent can flower. With this initiative, we will channel these talented students to these institutions, where we know they will have the right approach.”
Datuk Yasmin also believes that with these IHLs that have been recognised to be highly qualified and committed to offering top-notch digital technology courses, as well as assist in early career development, brain drain can be stemmed by developing the talent ‘in-house’.
The IHLs were chosen through a process that involved looking at the requirements of the industry, and benchmarking with other parts of the world, by seeing how others produce digital innovators.
MDEC then thoroughly assessed the IHLs who applied for the endorsement to make the selection. Datuk Yasmin pointed out that the list of endorsed IHLs will continue to change over time, as new IHLs pass the assessment criteria, while existing IHLs already endorsed must continue to maintain their standards to retain their status. She also emphasised that the assessment criteria will also be continually improved and enhanced with the needs of the future. “It is an inclusive programme, but the standards will be high.”