UTB to shorten degree programmes to three years

> UTB to shorten degree programmes to three years

Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB) has announced it will be shortening the duration of its undergraduate degree programmes from four years to three years as part of efforts to make its graduates more competitive in the job market.

After undertaking the necessary research, UTB discovered that four-year programmes were less attractive to prospective students compared to universities offering three-year degrees similar to those in the UK, Australia, and several other countries.

“This restructuring of our academic programmes would align us with other universities in the world and make collaboration with them easier,” said Professor Dr. Dayang Hajah Zohrah binti Haji Sulaiman, Vice-Chancellor of UTB.

“The shorter duration of study will also provide students early entry into the job market, giving them an edge over students in four-year programmes.”
She added that having shorter courses would make the university more attractive to prospective students — both local and international — and would present a competitive strategy to boost enrolment to UTB.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic still causing a lot of uncertainty, more local students will not be able to study abroad, so we want to present the best possible options to them.”

Among 569 respondents polled for the survey — comprising prospective students, industry professionals and members of the public — an overwhelming 79 percent said they would prefer three-year degrees over four-year programmes.

“It would shorten the time required for academic study and produce more professionals for industries where there is a shortage of skilled workers, such as ICT,” said the Vice-Chancellor.

“Our objective is to provide our students with shorter courses that are relevant, agile and more fitting to the work in relevant industries. We want to ensure that the skills and knowledge learnt here are still relevant after three years, and not quickly forgotten.”

Which programmes will be affected?

For the 2021/2022 intake, the duration of study will be reduced to three years for the following programmes:

  • All Bachelor of Business (Honours) degree programmes at the School of Business.
  • All Bachelor of Sciences (Honours) degree programmes at the School of Computing and Informatics; School of Applied Science and Mathematics; the School of Design; and Centre for Communication, Teaching and Learning.

The duration of study will also be reduced to three years for the current cohort of BSc (Hons) Architecture students from the 2018/2019, 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 intakes.

UTB to offer Six New Degree Programmes starting 2021, including Fashion Design, Agrotechnology and Communication

The university will also be offering several new degree programmes this year, providing exciting opportunities for prospective students.
The new programmes offered for the 2021/2022 intake are:

  • BSc (Hons) in Fashion Design and Technology
  • BSc (Hons) in Agrotechnology (Minor in Business)
  • BSc (Hons) in Mathematical Finance\
  • BSc (Hons) Communication
  • MSc (by coursework) in Communication – Full-time
  • MSc (by coursework) in Communication – Part-time

As the first local higher education institute to offer fashion design, prospective students would be pioneers in Brunei’s budding fashion industry.

“This course is a pathway for them to become entrepreneurs in the fashion industry,” said Assistant Professor Dr. Ahmad Syamaizar Haji Ahmad Sabli, Dean of the School of Design.

“Globally, the fashion industry is valued at US$3 trillion. This programme will directly support the creative industry in Brunei and has the potential to expand regionally and globally.”

Dr. Ahmad Syamaizar said future students have shown keen interest in the course with over 50 percent of respondents saying they would be interested in enrolling in the programme.

In another milestone for Brunei, UTB will be offering the country’s first agrotechnology degree with a view to creating more local experts in the sultanate’s emerging agriculture industry.

“Growth of local agricultural sectors and business can be expected to be significant in coming years,” said Dr Namasivayam Navaranjan, Dean of the School of Applied Sciences and Mathematics.

“An undergraduate programme in agricultural technology is currently not locally available to provide graduates to the growing manpower demands in the sector.”

When asked how UTB’s programme will differ from agricultural programmes offered at vocational schools, Dr Namasivayam said the degree will provide students more understanding of the impact of global and local policy on the agricultural economy, in addition to providing practical experience and field work.

“Our agrotechnology programme provides the necessary theoretical and practical knowledge in agribusiness, as well as in traditional and modern technology of sustainable agriculture.”

The School of Applied Sciences and Mathematics will also be introducing a new undergraduate degree in Mathematical Finance, where students will learn mathematical and statistical techniques to analyse large datasets of financial data.

“The financial sector has become more skill-intensive than the rest of the economy. Employability in the modern financial industry requires technical skills to analyse financial data and build mathematical models,” said Dr Namasivayam.

He added that graduates will be qualified to start careers as financial analysts, research associates, quantitative traders, actuaries, and they will possess a competitive set of skills for jobs where quantitative analysis and data-handling is vital.

The last set of new programmes for 2021 comes from the Centre for Communication, Teaching and Learning (CCTL), which will offer a BSc in Communication and a MSc in Communication (by coursework) for both full-time and part-time students.

The undergraduate programme aims to develop students’ communicative ability through verbal and non-verbal outlets, while exposing them to the current communicative theories and practices.

The masters programme focuses on the development of critical thinking and equips graduates with a higher level of professional knowledge.

“These courses are intended for those who want to be skilled writers or speakers and exceptional communicators,” said Dr Norihan Abu Hassan, Dean of CCTL.

“The emphasis would be on messaging, branding strategies, media production, strategy and communication, effective write ups and critical analysis of issues.”

She said the university decided to introduce the communication degrees after feedback from the public relations and corporate communication sector which revealed that there was a very small pool of people with the right aptitude and skill set for a career in communications.

“As demands for communication capability rises in many sectors, it is important that we have quality graduates in this field,” Dr Norihan said.

Graduates could work in a wide variety of fields, ranging from media and public relations to corporate management, advertising and human resources.

With these exciting new changes at UTB and broadening of degree programme areas in 2021, the university is confident students will find a diverse academic experience of global calibre.

UTB graduates will matriculate knowing they have a solid academic foundation and the hands-on experience that will set them apart from the rest of the field and shape them to be citizens with impact.