Jobs in engineering, accounting and computing are all fields that will be in growing demand as Brunei moves towards fulfilling its human resource needs as part of its Vision 2035.
To ensure that Brunei’s young graduates are competitive — and on par with international standards — accreditation of their academic courses from professional bodies is very important.
The deans of three Faculty and Schools at Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB) shared the value a professional accredited degree can add to a graduate’s job prospects and earning potentials.
Dr. Hj Mohammed Saleem Hj Nazmudeen, Dean of the UTB School of Business:
“Accreditation is actually a recognition of the quality of our programmes. Last October, our accounting programme was accredited by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA),” he said.
The acceleration programme allows all students enrolled in the Bachelor of Business (Hons) in Accounting and Information Systems to enter a fast track to become a Chartered Accountant (CA).
The degree provides an exemption from nine modules of ACCA exams; saving months of the time it typically takes to be a CA.
“They will have to only sit for four modules. And our partnership with ACCA gives them the opportunity to sit for the exams while they are studying. If they are prepared well, we help them with the training.”
Industry experience is also an important part of gaining professional accreditation, and UTB offers work placements to help students gain the experience they need to qualify as a CA.
“Those who are certified definitely draw a better salary compared to those who are not,” said Dr. Hj Mohammed Saleem. “This is a recognition that somebody is qualified, and can actually perform and deliver.”
“It also guarantees we deliver quality people to the industry and employers can hire our graduates without any skepticism.”
The dean shared that UTB is also moving towards getting all programmes under the UTB School of Business accredited via the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), which offers the gold standard of accreditation for Business Schools.
Professor Dr. Eric Dimla, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering:
Not to be outdone, the Faculty of Engineering also successfully attained accreditation from the Joint Board of Moderators (JBM), which represents four different institutions in the UK related to civil engineering. These are the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE), the Chartered Institution of Highway and Transportation (CIHT) and the Institute of Highway Engineers (IHE).
“What this means is our standards are as good as any international competitor. It ensures that the quality of the programmes at UTB meet the highest professional standards,” Professor Dimla said.
The Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) in Civil Engineering and Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) in Civil & Structural Engineering, which we currently offer, were both accredited last October as partially satisfying the educational base to become a chartered engineer (CEng).
Graduates pursuing CEng status then undertake further learning such as through an accredited Master’s programme to complete the educational requirements of JBM, followed by gaining relevant industry experience.
The Master of Science in Water Resources and Environmental Engineering was also accredited as meeting the requirements for CEng further learning.
“It’s a recognition that the degrees prepare the graduate to be on course to gain chartered status, provided they gain the necessary further learning, industry experience and exposure,” Professor Dimla explained.
“The type of industries that operate in Brunei require international expertise… and becoming a chartered engineer means you’re working at the highest level in your profession.”
The professor said professionally accredited programmes as well as the QS rating are important international markers that will grow the university’s reputation.
“UTB only started offering Bachelor degrees in engineering since 2008. For us to have programmes which are already accredited is testament to the dedication of our staff and management to support the development [of the university].”
As the first engineering programmes in Brunei to be accredited by JBM, Prof Dr. Dimla said local graduates should no longer think of themselves at a disadvantage just because they didn’t do their degree overseas.
“I don’t want my students here at UTB to be at a job disadvantage, just because they did not do a degree overseas. I want them to be proud they did a degree at UTB and they can stand their ground when they compare themselves to students who did their degrees in the UK, Australia or America.”
The dean added that the faculty is also working towards getting its mechanical and electrical engineering programmes accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), the largest multidisciplinary professional engineering institution in the world, within the next two years.
“We are very ambitious and goal-driven,” he said.
Dr Au Thien Wan, Dean of the School of Computing and Informatics:
In November, the School of Computing and Informatics joined the growing list of UTB’s professionally accredited faculties, when the British Computing Society (BCS) approved the school’s programmes as fulfilling the academic requirements for chartered IT professional (CIPT).
“When our students graduate with a BCS accredited degree it provides the opportunity to apply for professional membership of BCS and a progression pathway to CIPT,” said Dr. Au.
“Once they are member of BCS with sufficient working experience, they can gain CIPT status.”
The dean shared that the school is working to produce more IT professionals such as web developers, network engineers, cybersecurity analysts, programmers and many more.
“Brunei is working towards a digital economy and you need the expertise in this field. We need to have good developers and software engineers to meet the growing demand on IOT, clouds, data centre, web applications, databases, networks and security. These are the things that will make Vision 2035 a reality.”
Dr Au shared that the top 10 per cent of computing students are sent on an educational exchange to universities overseas such as the Korea Advanced Institute Science and Technology, ranked 6th best university in Asia by QS World University Rankings and widely considered one of the most innovative universities in the world.
“We are definitely committed to the development of our students,” he said. “Getting the school accredited was not an easy process — it took mountains of documentation, as well as visits from the BCS to assess the quality and impact of the courses.”
“By seeking accreditation from BCS, institutions are demonstrating and setting an international benchmark that is recognized by other countries that have signed international agreements. We are also committed to ensuring our programmes are relevant and support progression for our students. When they graduate the employers can be assured they are qualified.”