READY FOR THE WORKPLACE: The impact of big data and importance of analytics in the university curriculum. UNIVERSITIES need a data analytics component in all their academic programmes as the capacity to use it as a skill required of future graduates. Universiti Teknologi MARA assistant vice chancellor (UiTM Sungai Buloh and Selayang campuses) Datuk Professor Dr Abu Bakar Abdul Majeed said: “This is the trend we see the world over. In Malaysia, the subjects related to data analytics are somewhat taught in courses such as statistics and quantitative analysis, for example, but not at a higher level of analytics. We need to immerse students in higher level analytics so that the tools that are available in the market can be introduced to students and enable them to go deeper into data and apply it in a variety of fields.”
Data analytics, he added, is a tool that can be used across all disciplines to make better decisions. “So, with enough data you can make better informed decisions and at least minimise gut feeling.” He was speaking on the sidelines of the recent Conference of Heads of Academic Departments (CHAD), an annual event organised by UiTM. Themed Talent Analytics: Developing Future Leaders this year, the event was held at UiTM Institute of Leadership and Development in Bandar Enstek, Negri Sembilan. Abu Bakar served as CHAD 2016 chairman. Focused on the issue of the gap between graduates and industry requirement and future job markets, the event impressed upon UiTM deans and head of campuses as well as heads of departments of participating universities, the impact of big data and importance of analytics when reviewing university curriculum, with a clear idea on how to tailor programmes. “While data analytics is useful across the board, students who want to specialise in the area can delve into data sciences per se.
Data science offers a new profession which was not available five years ago. But graduates in medicine, engineering, banking and finance etc also need to be skilled in data analytics. This ability can energise graduates to become superb workers who have high productivity levels,” he added. UiTM is in the midst of relooking its curriculum and plans to embed data analytics in courses which do not yet have the component. “Our Centre of Excellence for Analytics at the Faculty of Computer and Mathematical Sciences also plans to introduce postgraduate courses in data analytics next year.” At the closing of CHAD 2016, Higher Education Leadership Academy director Professor Dr Kamal Harun said the current model and approach to education, while suitable for the previous generation, cannot meet the need of the country’s future digital natives who seek to work and travel globally, and value more flexibility in the workplace. “Higher education will have to play a bigger role in impacting the economy and society — not only through the generation of value-driven intellectuals for the future workforce but also through innovations that will revolutionise the country’s economy and community,” he added. Against these scenarios of the future of higher education, several types of leaders have been identified to help the university forge ahead.
“Among the leaders are those who can spearhead an overhaul of the current system to one that not only serves the needs and learning traits of digital natives, but also empowers the creation of a social enterprise that can drive both the national economy and society. “Then there are leaders who can shape an academic culture that changes the what-is-in-it-for-me syndrome or even short-term Key Performance Indices or immediate rewards to one that is shaped by a sense of responsibility and accountability and integrity in producing intellectuals who can contribute to the betterment of the society, nation and even himself or herself. “Leadership in higher education is neither about reward nor status. Rather, it is about creating a better future. It is driven by responsibility and a clarity of purpose and, above all, leaders are guided by the heart or kalb/kalbu.”