Great achievements by Swinburne despite pandemic

Swinburne ended 2020 on a good note despite a challenging year.

KUCHING: Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus ended last year on a good note with a significant number of achievements despite the global disruption to the education landscape caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

The university retains its five-star rating for ‘very competitive’ higher education institutions in Malaysia (Setara 2018/2019), based on a rating system set by the Ministry of Higher Education. Last year’s rating marks Swinburne’s fifth consecutive year as a five-star university.

Since the enforcement of a nationwide movement control order, the university managed to smoothly transition to online education methodologies, putting in place a continuity plan and utilising the world’s leading learning management system ‘Canvas’.

A new three-year Bachelor of Science (Environmental Science) programme was introduced, and an arrangement between CPA Australia and Swinburne was made to allow students of the university to shorten their time to complete the CPA professional examinations under the fast track pathway.

For its October 2020 intake, Swinburne offered the ‘start with zero fees programme’ and the ‘start at home programme’ to new commencing domestic and international students respectively.

On top of that, several new courses were successfully accredited for delivery this year.

Despite the challenges throughout the year, both staff and students were not yielded. Swinburne competed in the local and international competitions and come out as winners, winning not only titles but also bagging prestigious awards.

A total of nine undergraduates excelled in the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) examination, achieving a 67 percent pass rate and surpassing the ACCA world pass rate of 47 percent.

Meanwhile, Artefact Studio comprising business and design students was announced as the top three winners of the Tegas Digital Pre-Accelerator 2020 programme.

At the Innovate Sarawak Design Challenge 2020, Swinburne teams not only won the overall champion title but also five prizes in other categories, while at the Online Innovate Malaysia Design Conference (IMDC) 2020 participated by 367 teams from 28 universities, Swinburne students won multiple prizes in various categories.

At the 6th International Biotechnology Competition and Exhibition 2020 (IBCEx 2020) and the Southeast Asia Global Innovation Challenge (SEA-GIC) 2020, the university’s biotechnology and chemical engineering students also clinched prizes for their innovative projects.

Swinburne’s deputy vice-chancellor and chief executive officer, and pro-vice-chancellor (Research) were ranked in the top two percent of scientists in the world under the career-long citation impact category based on a science-wide author database of standardised citation indicators.

Three other academics were also ranked in the top two percent under the Single Calendar Year Impact category.

Additionally, Swinburne’s head of school of Design and Arts won the 2020 UN Women Malaysia Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) Award and Swinburne’s Stem (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) team was awarded Highly Commended at the Vice Chancellor’s Award 2020 for their rural school project.

In other news, a Stay Home Notice (SHN) mobile application monitoring system was created to assist the government’s efforts in minimising the spread of Covid-19 and a certified digital professional suite was introduced to elevate digital proficiency of individuals, schools, and businesses so that they can work better with apps, cloud, automation, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) during the pandemic.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed with Optimum-Eden Healthcare Sdn Bhd (OEH) to kick off a research and development work on cutting-edge aged care monitoring system.

In December, Swinburne commenced its Stage Two RM40 million reconstruction and extension works of the campus’ existing building and supporting facilities.

For the first time, Swinburne organised a drive-thru graduation event for over 200 graduates, conducted a fully online orientation programme, and launched the Student Emergency Fund.

On top of that, 21 women entrepreneurs from diverse business sectors completed their three-day training under the Pelan Jana Semula Ekonomi Negara (Penjana) Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) programme jointly organised by the university and the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) Academy.

On the research front, a total of RM2.1 million funding was awarded to Swinburne including six fundamental research grant scheme (FRGS) and eight Sarawak research and development council (SRDC) grants.

An inaugural Higher Degree Research (HDR) conference was held with over 60 presentations and keynote talks. Approximately 120 HDR students were enrolled last year and the first patent was awarded for research undertaken at the Sarawak campus.

Last year also marked Swinburne’s 20 solid years of delivering quality Australian education at an affordable cost to Sarawakians and non-Sarawakians. Established in 2000, Swinburne was set up as a partnership between Swinburne University of Technology Australia and the Sarawak government.

Swinburne’s work-integrated learning opportunities comprise industry and accreditation placements, industry-linked projects, internships, as well as other immersive learning experiences. To such an extent, Swinburne’s role is to nurture and produce the future workforce for the Industrial Revolution (IR) 4.0.