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Research universities to propel Malaysia into a developed nation

Research

By Ainul Huda Mohamed Saaid

Research and development (R&D) undertaken by higher education institutions are indispensable in propelling Malaysia towards a developed nation status.

Therefore, the government under the 10th Malaysia Plan has elevated the status of five universities – Universiti Malaya (UM), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) – into research universities.

If the figures provided by the Education Ministry on R&D allocation for the institutions from 2010 to 2012 is anything to go by, these universities have undertaken substantial R&D efforts with each institution allocated between RM50 million and RM90.8 million.

In so far RM1.863 billion have been utilised to carry out research, appoint researchers, conduct training and in providing equipment and facilities.

CREATING RESEARCHERS OF QUALITY

Dr Mohd Fakhri Zaki Jaafar, the deputy director for the promotion and marketing division of UPM’s Putra Science Park noted that one of the main attributes of research universities is taking in more post graduate students.

Research Universities have set the intake target of 50:50 for postgraduates and undergraduates, a considerably high ratio compared with non-research education institutions.

“Countries allocate huge amount of funds for research as they realise that one of the important attributes in being competitive is innovation, and to compete we have to conduct research and come up with new things.

“Thus there is a need for us to create researchers, undergraduates with the latest knowledge. With the fund allocated now, we can focus on more post graduates doing research, especially the ones with high impact outcomes,” he said.

He added that producing graduates, lecturers and researchers of quality, and the ones who can think out of the box were pertinent in coming out with compelling innovations.

COMMERCIALISATION

According to Dr Mohd Fakhri research efforts by local researchers have come with products that could bring income to the universities and nation.

Like their counterparts in developed nations, research outcomes and products from local universities have received world recognition and awards, yet marketing the research products is not a forte of Malaysia.

“We are now in the process of instilling confidence in the industry. There has to be more promotions, bring them to see our products so that the industries believe in us and are confident enough to take the products to the market,” he explained.

However, he admitted that the commercialisation process might take some time and called for continuous efforts.

PUBLICISING RESEARCH SUCCESSES

In finding ways to commercialise products from research and also conveying the research findings to the society, the research universities in conjunction with the education ministry are now holding a ‘road show’ to highlight the research findings and products.

Dr Mohd Fakhri noted that the roadshow series takes different themes – publication, commercialisation, networking or impact on the society and managing talents.

The current roadshow in UPM from 5 to 7 May, at the Dewan Besar Pusat Kebudayaan dan Kesenian Sultan Salehudin Abdul Aziz Shah, highlights the aspects in creating talents.

The 55 talents created, made up of researchers, undergraduates and lecturers, by the research universities will be highlighted.

“As for example in sports, several big names like diving athlete Bryan Nickson Lomas will be highlighted,” he said.

The first series was held in UM in February with the emphasis on publication.

The next roadshow will be in USM in June, focusing on the commercialisation of products. ( BERNAMA)

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