Universities are called to engage industry more in preparation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) and today’s graduates are urged to practise lifelong learning.
This was the appeal made by Chancellor Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah in his address at Wawasan Open University’s (WOU) 9th Convocation ceremony held in Hotel Equatorial Penang today.
He said that Industry 4.0, with breakthroughs like artificial intelligence, robotics, 3-D printing, autonomous vehicles and smart factories, is impacting the workplace and society. “Universities must therefore transform what they teach and how students learn”, he declared, adding that 21st century knowledge and skills in data analytics, big data, cloud computing, AI and automation are critical for producing employable, future-proof graduates.
Pro-Chancellor Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon mentioned that policies are being formulated to mitigate any negative impacts from Industry 4.0, and harness the benefits of the new technologies, like the National Policy on Industry 4.0 recently launched by the government.
He stated that education is also disrupted by the new technologies, and so WOU has embarked on a major transformation initiative from mid-2017 to ensure it stays relevant. “Building on the foundation and achievements so far, WOU should forge ahead to be the university of the future. We shall also reach out beyond our shores to other ASEAN countries.”
He also highlighted that WOU will launch the George Town Institute for Open and Advanced Studies (GIOAS) to gather advanced ideas and initiatives in January 2019.
In her report, Acting Vice Chancellor Prof Zoraini Wati Abas shared that this Convocation produced 658 graduates, with 166 at the postgraduate-level and 492 at the undergraduate-level. There were two inaugural PhD graduates in Arts & Humanities as well as the first batches of graduates from the open distance learning (ODL) programmes of mechatronics and human resource management.
Sixty four out of the 492 graduates at the undergraduate-level were from full-time study, including the first batches from the logistics & supply chain management, sales & marketing, and computer systems & networks programmes.
Prof Zoraini also congratulated the three top students. The Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Memorial Prize for best ODL graduate at the postgraduate-level was won by Datin Poonam Devi Talissiram from the Commonwealth Executive MBA (CeMBA) programme. The Chancellor’s Gold Medal for topping the ODL undergraduate class was presented to Paul Goh Yeng Weeh from the Bachelor of Technology (Hons) in Construction Management programme.
Poonam is a director of an employment screening agency in Petaling Jaya, while Goh juggles work as a senior manager for project and quality at a construction company in Puchong and his current studying of an MBA in Construction Management at WOU.
The Tun Dr Lim Keng Yaik Memorial Gold Prize for the most outstanding student from the full-time undergraduate programmes was awarded to Lau Sheue Wen, from the Bachelor of Business (Hons) in Management programme. She is a management trainee at a manufacturing company in Sungai Petani, Kedah.