Experts Speak at UCSI University’s Research Forum

UCSI’s Faculty of Business and Information Science held a Research Forum attended by expert speakers in the industry such as Professor Dr Alan Wilson from Strathclyde University, Scotland and Professor Dr Geoffrey Williams, a graduate of the University of Cambridge.

UCSI’s Research and Postgraduate Studies head, Professor Dr Abu Bakar Sade and Department of Actuarial Science and Applied Statistics Professor Dr Ong Seng Huat were also part of the panel of speakers.

In his opening speech, Professor Abu Bakar emphasised the need to strengthen research areas such as IR 4.0 while balancing the dynamics between academia and research especially with the formation of the ‘New Malaysia’.

After the opening speech, Professor Wilson began his talk entitled ‘Balancing Teaching and Research’ with the topic of Setting Research Goals and Rewards.

He said that there needs to be a balance between career advancement, financial rewards and reduced teaching load; there also needs to be a balance between quality versus quantity targets where in this case, the former is more important.

“Researchers are rewarded for increased number of publications, citations, increased grant funding and student evaluation scores.

“As for the infrastructure to support research, it includes work load balance, funding for conference attendance, grant writing support, access to sources of information about calls for papers or conferences, research seminars and writing retreats,” he said.

With regards to blending research supervision and teaching, Professor Wilson stated that there needs to be an alignment of themes in both which need to be incorporated into curriculum assessments, joint assessments, block teaching and group assignments.

Wilson emphasised that it is important to develop international networks, put your output online, attend international conferences with inbound and outbound research visits as well as write papers with people from other countries.

Essentially, we need to promote the view that research success is to the benefit of everyone in your university,” he said.

Geoffrey Williams commented on the continuing financial crisis in Malaysian private education institutions. Specifically, he touched on the current financial position of Malaysian higher education institutions, how they are performing, and how to prepare for IR 4.0.  

He also noted some financial indicators such as profitability and solvency which are important in any institution. However, statistically, 44% of these institutions could not cover their expenses and were technically insolvent.

Additionally, he said that 64% were in some form of debt distress. The intense competition on marketing, advertising and recruitment agencies adds to the situation where between 2010 and 2016, one and a half billion ringgit was spent on marketing.

Hence, he provided a preliminary conceptual model which was based on the propositions of course diversity, age, size, nationality, ownership, ethnicity and shareholder concentration.

From the perspective of Professor Abu Bakar, it is imperative that we extract intrinsic knowledge such  as attitudes and psychological elements when embarking into research.

On the other hand, Professor Ong shared some advice in pursuing research where he said that one needs to know what one wants to do. He added that international conferences will help establish linkages and it is essential to get along with people, to form international relationships.

During the Q and A session, Professor Williams emphasised that individuals have different talents, some perhaps in areas such as literature reviews or statistics.

“We need to grow our own trees, learn actively in terms of being part of research teams. The research field can be exciting especially when publications are out before the attainment of a PhD,” he said.

The Research Forum was insightful and beneficial to all who attended where exchange of ideas and perspectives took place for the betterment of those involved in or going to be involved in research in the future.  

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