WELCOMING 2020: A WORD FROM THE DEPUTY RECTOR (STUDENT DEVELOPMENT AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT), IIUM

WELCOMING 2020: A WORD FROM THE DEPUTY RECTOR (STUDENT DEVELOPMENT AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT), IIUM

Assalammualaikum and greetings from the Office of the Deputy Rector (Student Development and Community Engagement), IIUM.

A year ago, the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) launched a new strategic plan entitled The Way Forward. Many initiatives were introduced and translated accordingly into various projects and developments on and off the campus grounds. The institutional mission and vision were consequently reiterated and this gave birth to a fundamental framework that incorporates ijtihad towards the disentangling of issues confronting the individual whilst at the same time, conform to the will of Allah. Such reaffirmation has also inspired the Office of the Deputy Rector (Student Development and Community Engagement) to grasp the wave towards the University’s new direction in positioning itself as an institution that does not only impart knowledge, but also utilises its expertise in further developing the university and the communities that neighbours IIUM. This can be done through effective development of IIUM students a core that shapes the vision of this Office.

IIUM Students Development

The university is unprecedentedly close to the centre of the world stage. Our students are becoming more visible at the international platform and are partaking in more intense international competitions. Against this backdrop and with this general trend, it is the objective view that the Office of Deputy Rector (Student Development and Community Engagement), fondly known as ODRSDCE, should have visions and qualities that are more internationalised in order to sustain itself as a university that nurture students to international standards. In such regard, ODRSDCE strives to create a positive, open and more inclusive and diversified environment towards a harmonious campus culture for all students regardless of nationality or gender.

To this end, this office (ODRSDCE) provides students with more learning and development opportunities both at home and aboard; widens their horizons and exposure; and encourages them to learn and think with a macroscopic and open mind. Students of IIUM are known for being active in student-oriented activities in Malaysia and its neighbouring countries. Such opportunities have enabled them not to only enhance their language proficiency and communication skills in a foreign environment and strengthen their disciplinary knowledge, but to also facilitate them to gain further experience by living in a culture that is foreign to them. 

In addition to international exposure, the ODRSDCE also strives to develop its students through the enrichment and sharpening of specialised knowledge and skills. Such skills include, but are not restricted to, leadership, life skills, talents and oratory skills that are deemed essential in ensuring that IIUM graduates are well rounded and prepared to venture into post-university life upon completion of their academic undertakings here at IIUM. As a result of the university’s unwavering efforts and commitment in developing its students, many of their talents have flourished both at the national and international avenue. 

My Office also acknowledges that a higher educational institution like IIUM prepares students for both their academic and co-curricular pursuit. As the latter falls into the portfolio of ODRSDCE, many exciting changes are in the pipeline to guarantee that our students are prepared more than ever to venture into the 21st Century. To date, ODRSDCE has been aggressively revising the co-curricular courses to ensure that the contents are in tandem with the literacy, skills, and knowledge of the future. Such assurance stems from the realisation that students would not be able to successfully participate in the global economy should there be a vacuum of these skills.

The various accolades garnered by our students at the national and international platform advocates that my Office’s strategy is decorous. For instance, our students are well known for their aggressive winnings in debates and oratory based competitions. Not only do they excel in English, winnings have also been bagged for competitions that were organised in Bahasa Malaysia, and Arabic.

IIUM Students Community Engagement

Distant from the enrichment of specialised knowledge, IIUM have had the opportunity to broaden their students’ outlook by exposing them towards the understanding of the culture and day-to-day life of the neighbouring communities. For example, the orang asli have been given a special acknowledgement by IIUM and thus, mores students have managed to bridge the tie between IIUM and the orang asli through programmes aimed at knowing them as not only a group of people dwelling near the university grounds. Originating from a plethora of different Malaysian cultures, IIUM students and the orang asli alike exchanged and learnt cultures that were foreign to them. This was reciprocally realised through community engagement ingenuities of both IIUM students and IIUM neighbours.

By gaining a better comprehension of what goes beyond the four walls of IIUM, students are able to align their level of professional capabilities with numerous standards and skills that may not be acquired during their academic endeavour at the university. Through successful community engagements, students are provided with the opportunities to enhance life skills and broaden their experience through collaborative and joint efforts of the surrounding community. As ODRSDCE believes that all students should be given the opportunity to somehow give back to the community, it offers countless avenues and platform to engage in such commendable efforts. In addition, I personally believe that student related engagement offers students personal efficacy, identity, spiritual growth, and development of their moral values.

ODRSDCE: Our Way Forward

It goes without saying that when the world is viewed from a variety of different perspectives, we gain new perceptions and a more precise interpretation of reality. This is strongly upheld by ODRSDCE where the Office aspires to ensure that every aspect of the students life here at IIUM is well looked upon and well looked after. 

ODRSDCE also believes in empowering students at the university and doing so warrant students that are fit not just academically, but also industrially as student empowerment ensures that students become more mature towards their self-handling, and at the same time, provide them with invaluable experience in managing matters revolving around student-related matters and finance. With this in view, my Office has successfully accommodated the establishment of the first-ever student union at a Malaysian public institution of higher learning. With this establishment, ODRSDCE will ensure that proper and essential guidance is proffered towards a successful Student Union model that is replicable by other higher learning institutions.

InsyaAllah, IIUM will organise for the very first time the Global Community Builders Summit 2020 (GLOBS 2020) revolving around the theme Shared Prosperity for Brighter Future. GLOBS 2020 aims to exhibit the IIUM as the leading university for community building and social engagement and to provide platform for knowledge exchanging, networking, learning and empowering the community builders.

Eradication of discrimination towards the disabled has long been an issue of ODRSDCE. This is in line with the introduction of the IIUM Disability Inclusion Policy launched in 2018 by the Honourable Minister of Education. The policy places a positive duty on IIUM to ensure that the campus grounds are made friendly for individuals who require special assistance, thus promoting equal opportunities for all to seek knowledge comfortably. Currently, many innovative schemes have been put into place to accommodate our students (and staff) that may require the extra facility. For example, two (2) of our mahallahs have been designated as a disabled friendly accommodation; Mahallah Uthman for the brothers, and Mahallah Saffiyyah for the sisters. Furthermore, the SHAS Mosque at the Gombak Campus has also been fitted with disabled-friendly ablution stations that cater to individuals who are wheelchair bound. All these initiatives are to assist IIUM students (and staff) reach their full potential whilst at the university.

Apart from the development of IIUM’s students, the year 2020 will also highlight IIUM as an animal friendly campus. Through this ambition, the nation will witness the establishment of the first-ever animal welfare shelter at IIUM. This shelter is in response to UNDP’s Sustainable Development Goal No. 15: Life on land, which seeks to integrate, among others, the ecosystem into national and local planning. At the onset of this project, the shelter aims to house the stray cats lingering on campus grounds and by doing this, the cat population on campus is controlled to a healthy amount thus reducing the population of unwanted cats in IIUM.

As I have duly highlighted, I can guarantee that 2020 will be a year that is challenging yet aspiring for ODRSDCE. To exemplify, my Office aspires to further develop IIUM students through effective engagement, development, empowerment, and leadership. These four elements, when coupled with dedicated associates of the ODRSDCE executive team, will produce students who are well balanced in every aspect of their academic life here at IIUM.

ODRSDCE also strives to shape the future generations through the building of their souls, hearts, and minds. Habits of minds and hearts are ways that an individual is able to articulate their thinking and emotional disposition. This will then allow them to focus on their fundamental responsibilities at IIUM. Through successful building of their inner core, our students are then able to develop mental habits that render their thinking and learning.

Before I conclude, I would like to vouch that ODRSDCE would bring about healthy changes to the IIUM student community in its entirety. The mass will witness a campus environment that is fit to accommodate any type(s) of students. My team and I are also excited to welcome 2020 as a whole.

On that note, I welcome you to witness a student experience that is not just transformative, but invigorating in its nature during the upcoming days.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Zulkifli Hasan
Deputy Rector (Student Development and Community Engagement)
International Islamic University Malaysia

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