UCSI University's Professor Dzulkifli is accorded Gilbert Award

UCSI University Council member Professor Tan Sri Dzulkifli Abdul Razak will make history in May when he becomes the first Asian to be accorded the Gilbert Medal by Universitas 21.

The seventh recipient of the award, Professor Dzulkifli's selection reflects global recognition for his many contributions to the international higher education scene, particularly in the areas of university leadership, internationalisation and an abiding commitment to the UN's sustainable development goals (SDG).

He is also known for his willingness to challenge western knowledge systems and his impassioned crusade in support of the decolonisation of universities and knowledge.

"I'm honoured and humbled by the recognition from my peers," said Professor Dzulkifli. "I've always believed that education should be more equitable, accessible and sustainable and my principles guided me to a road less travelled in academia.

"Education should always be treated as a basic human right – never a privilege. The knowledge we have today is influenced by different civilisations and I've always spoken out against hegemony and the systems used to propagate it."

A pharmacist by training, Professor Dzulkifli decided quickly at university that he would forego a promising career in the industry - he simply could not.

Championing healthcare as a basic human right, he was appalled by the rampant inequality and profiteering in the system. Irresponsible cases of human testing were another factor he found hard to stomach.

"Healthcare is meant to be accessible to all but when the cost of a pill is just 20 cents and you inflate it exponentially, where's the justice in that?" he answered unequivocally when quizzed about his decision. "And when prices are hiked substantially, how can the poor cope?

"In my eyes, the system was similar to a cartel. Giant corporations controlled the price of drugs and instead of doing more to alleviate human suffering and cure diseases, their operations were designed to extract the most profit. I could not be part of that system."

His decision made, Professor Dzulkifli channeled his energies to another avenue that should be accessible to all - education.

Starting out at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), he took a firm stand against inequality and hegemony at every opportunity, he sought to create a more equitable system for deserving students. His razor-sharp intellect and infectious enthusiasm won hearts and minds and his academic career soared.

National recognition followed when he was appointed as the Vice-Chancellor of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). Under his leadership, the university was selected as Malaysia's apex university on the back of its visionary commitment to sustainable growth and humanitarian objectives.

Today, Professor plays a vital role in UCSI's concerted effort to be the leading private university in Malaysia. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia and he is regularly sought for his views by the local and international media.

Apart from his contributions at UCSI and USM, Professor Dzulkifli is the 14th President of the International Association of Universities. He was also the vice-chancellor of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and al-Bukhary International University, where he developed the concept of the "humaniversity".

He has also served an executive committee member of international bodies like the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Advisory Education Hub Committee, the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) and the Advisory Committee of World Universities Forum.

His ironclad commitment to SDG is best reflected by the sejahtera approach he championed at USM, a movement now embraced internationally, most notably by his South Korean counterparts.

Awarded annually, the Gilbert is the highest honour bestowed by Universitas 21. The award is christened in honour of the consortium's founding Chair, Alan Gilbert.

Professor Dzulkifli was presented with the Gilbert Medal at the University of Nottingham on May 4, 2017.
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