Speeches
Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus 20th Anniversary
Deliver on 23 Apr 2021

Click here for Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus pdf files.


Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus

20th Anniversary Celebratory Event

10.30 am, 31st March 2021

 

 

Congratulations to Swinburne Sarawak

Congratulations to Swinburne Sarawak on achieving this significant milestone. The university’s many accomplishments have been meaningful and impressive, and it has come a long way from its early days as a Higher Education Institute established in 2000.

Now as a fully-fledged university, its full range of courses from diploma to doctoral degrees and innovative industry-engaged research on Sarawak-specific issues offer the people of Sarawak and the region an opportunity to attain a world-class education with a high SETARA rating of 5 stars right here in Kuching.

As the Pro Chancellor, I am proud of how far it has come since its beginnings in 2000. Its rapid growth in a short period of time signifies the strong and successful partnership between the Sarawak Government and Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne.

My appreciation goes to Swinburne Melbourne, the support of which has been a crucial component to the success of this campus. I am confident that the professional relationship that our two institutions enjoy will continue to grow into the future.


Contribution - Talent pool

Swinburne Sarawak was established primarily to produce Sarawakians with the skills and knowledge to drive the state’s high technology industries, enhance competitiveness in business and to boost our human resource capacity for the tasks that face us now and in the future as Sarawak industrializes, digitalises and globalizes its economy.

The campus therefore plays a vital role in our goal to thrust Sarawak into the 21st century and achieving its vision of becoming a developed state by 2030.

With a host of development projects Sarawak has embarked on since I took over as Chief Minister, including the digitalization of our economy, Industry 4.0, and hydrogen fuel cell technology, Swinburne Sarawak will continue to play an important role in achieving our ambition to turn the state into a developed economy.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to realign our strategies to one that is grounded upon digitalisation and sustainability and I believe that this university will continue to play its rightful role to produce talents to help the state achieve the aims of its post covid-19 exit strategies which we will unveil soon.

It is very heartening to note that the university has produced 7,000 graduates to date and that of this number, Sarawakians account for 65 per cent.

I am even more delighted to learn that Swinburne’s graduates are highly prized by industry and that more than 90 per cent are gainfully employed six months after graduating.

This is certainly a reflection of the high quality education and the relevance of the courses Swinburne Sarawak offers to meet industry demands.

It also means that the Sarawak Government made the right decision in teaming up with Swinburne Melbourne to develop Sarawakians for the challenges of the 21st century that is marked by highly advanced and rapidly evolving technologies. 


 

Contribution – Research

I am pleased to know that Swinburne Sarawak’s research endeavour has earned a 3-star rating from the Malaysian Research Assessment Instrument, or MyRA. Its expertise on Sarawak-centric issues, for example in sustainable technologies, biotechnology, advanced manufacturing and the digital economy, aligns well with our plan for Sarawak’s development.

Swinburne Sarawak’s research journey has progressed very well, starting in 2012 with a joint RM40 million grant from the Sarawak Government and Swinburne Melbourne to boost the university’s research programme, promote research collaboration and instil the best research practices.

I am pleased to note that industries and relevant government authorities have engaged the university through its research centres to help with their research needs. Such engagements to create research will improve with input from industries and the relevant authorities that possess the knowledge on issues that concerns the real world.

Universities are in the business of knowledge – studying and sharing through teaching and creating knowledge through research.

The advances made from research will benefit society and the economy through research impact and will eventually trickle down into the classroom so that our universities continue to produce graduates that are relevant to the demands and needs of industry and society.


Sarawak Government support

I cannot stress enough the importance of education for Sarawak’s development agenda. The current Governor of Sarawak Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, when he was the Chief Minister, had the foresight to develop homegrown talents in order to meet Sarawak’s industrialization ambitions.

Several missions were sent abroad to identify a highly reputable and technologically focused international university that we could work with to meet the needs of Sarawak. Swinburne, with its tiered higher education system, stood out as a potential partner.

At the same time Swinburne, which had a long and distinguished history of producing graduates who meet the needs of business and industry and have the skills and knowledge that employers need, was also looking to expand its international presence.

Tun Pehin Sri and his team wasted no time in inviting Swinburne to set up a campus in Sarawak in partnership with the State Government.

While the birth of Swinburne Sarawak is attributed to Tun Pehin Sri, its elevation from an institute to university status was attributed to the late Pehin Sri Haji Adenan Bin Haji Satem when he was the Chair of the Board of Directors who lobbied for the upgrading of status with the Federal Government.

Today, two decades after it first opened its doors, it is satisfying to see that Swinburne Sarawak continues to grow rapidly, graduating the highly competent and qualified workforce for the State. Along the way, it also accomplished a number of “firsts”, as we have heard from the earlier speeches.

Prior to the setting up of the campus, parents had to send their children abroad and for most families this option was a very costly affair. Fortunately, this is now not the case because Swinburne Sarawak offers them an internationally recognized Australian education in Sarawak with the opportunity to travel to Australia on student exchange or transfer to graduate.

We have no issues with students pursuing their education overseas. In fact, we encourage it as studying abroad helps to broaden one’s outlook. However, many who completed their studies overseas stay on in their host country instead of returning home to contribute to Sarawak’s development, which is therefore a loss to the State.

I am glad to know that more than 90 per cent of Swinburne Sarawak graduates choose to remain in the State after graduating and are pursuing careers with key industry players or have set up businesses of their own to employ others.

The establishment of Swinburne’s campus in Kuching has changed the higher education landscape and played a significant role in the retention of highly skilled Sarawakians who may otherwise have moved elsewhere.

In addition, Swinburne Sarawak has helped to internationalise Kuching. Since the campus was established, there has been an influx of international students to the State who contribute culturally and to the economy and local businesses through expenditure on accommodation, food, entertainment and tourism. The city of Kuching has also become more cosmopolitan with their presence.

The State Government, through Yayasan Sarawak, is working closely with the university to turn it into a leading institution of higher learning in Malaysia by 2025 and we are working to develop it into a world-class campus in Kuching with a capacity for around 5,000 students and a research ecosystem that links closely with Swinburne Melbourne and is aligned with the State Government priority areas.

The State Government together with Swinburne Melbourne through share capital raising is investing over RM50 million in upgrading the campus to create a world-class facility for the benefit of all students. I am very impressed with the upgraded teaching facilities and common areas and look forward to visiting again to see the completed accommodation, student hub, student dining and the Borneo Atrium space over the next 18 months.

In order to encourage more Bumiputra students to study at Swinburne Sarawak we have provided a variety of scholarships to Sarawak students. This includes interest-free study loans, merit-based scholarships for academic excellence, higher degree research scholarships and special BP40 scholarships.

Additionally, Yayasan Sarawak awards the Anugerah Graduan Cemerlang, or Yayasan Sarawak Graduate Excellence Award, to the university’s top graduates in recognition of their achievements.

Importantly, senior officers from the Sarawak Government and Yayasan Sarawak sit on the university’s Board of Directors and the University Council, which provides governance on both the strategic direction of Swinburne Sarawak and on academic quality matters.  


 

Closing

Once again, congratulations to Swinburne Sarawak on its 20th anniversary and the impressive achievements to date, and its significant contribution to the State’s development.

We look forward to an exciting future together as we further develop our local talent through education and research for the benefit of all Sarawakians.

Thank you.

Speeches By: YAB DATUK PATINGGI (DR) ABANG HAJI ABDUL RAHMAN ZOHARI BIN TUN DATUK ABANG HAJI OPENG