Q1What is unique about USIM for International students?.
Fourteen years after the first of our students walked the corridors of this university, USIM was already providing high quality undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. These programmes which integrate Naqli and Aqli knowledge are unique, setting USIM apart from conventional Islamic universities not only in Malaysia but the world over. This niche combined with the university’s mission to transform and create value for the country, ummah and humanity is highly relevant to the development of education globally.The integration of Naqli knowledge with that of Aqli knowledge in our curriculum and non-academic activities is USIM’s way to produce graduates who are balanced, graduates who can contribute towards a more humane, just and inclusive society. This is because the Quran and Sunnah provides a rich resource of knowledge, solutions and ethics in the fields of science, medicine, economics and humanities to name a few.
Q2What is USIM Alamiyyah?
The university management felt that USIM was ready for a global presence and had to share our education model in a more concerted and organised way with the global community and not only within the Islamic world. It was against this backdrop that the International Relations Office was setup to spearhead the university’s internationalization agenda.We began by introducing the ‘Alamiyyah Policy on Global Relevance and Positioning of USIM in January 2014. Because of the limited interpretation and scope of the word internationalization, that does not reflect the aspirations of USIM, we decided to use the concept of ‘Alamiyyah to describe our transnational agenda. The term ‘Alamiyyah encompasses, ‘ilm (knowledge), ‘alim (knowledgeable) and alam (nature/universe). Hence ‘Alamiyyah refers to an institutional environment of academic excellence and research which is undertaken to address issues and problems that affect the ummah. Structured on Islamic values and worldview, every effort is given to create an international and intercultural awareness at every level of thinking and action within USIM.
Q3 What are the strategies to ensure that USIM is visible internationally?
Besides launching USIM ‘Alamiyyah, the brand new USIM ’Alamiyyah website, designed to be the window to USIM for potential overseas partners and students, has also been launched. Further, we also witness the appointment of the first batch of ‘Alamiyyah Ambassadors, 2 from Nigeria and 1 from Egypt for the 2014/2015 session. Our Alamiyyah Ambassadors will be given the relevant training to enable them to counsel potential students, bridge the communication between the international students with their Malaysian peers and with the USIM community in general.USIM ‘Alamiyyah is going to be a one stop centre that manages all transnational and cultural matters in the university for students and staff. Currently USIM has almost 800 international students and about 44 international staff from 36 countries. We are proud of their presence as they enrich the campus with their culture and diversity and not to mention their contribution towards the development of the university.
Q4 How about financial support for international students?
We has set up the USIM ‘ALAMIYYAH STUDENT WAQAF FUND, to provide education assistance to deserving but financially challenged Muslim youths worldwide to pursue tertiary education in USIM. This fund was established in April 2014 and it is associated with the philosophy of the university’s ‘Alamiyyah Policy for Global Relevance and Positioning, which calls for expanding access to education beyond high school for the ummah.We are making every effort to raise waqaf fund in order to draw upon sufficient financial benefits (per year) to provide full financial support for 30 students (approximately 1% of the USIM international student enrolment) in a year. The number of students supported will increase proportionately with any additional waqaf fund collected.
Q5 Why do you think it is significant for USIM to establish the fund?
Although student enrolment in universities has grown in the past 2 decades, there remains a segment of the global population who do not have access to tertiary education and this is most widespread in the Muslim world. Indeed a disparity also exists within the Muslim world itself in both Muslim majority countries and among Muslims in non-Muslim majority countries. The causes are many; among them is the mismatch between the number of university places available and student demand, the lack of funds, societal constraints and interruption in education as a result of conflict and discrimination. This scenario poses a threat to the development of the Muslim world and if not prevented will undermine the equitable growth of Muslims.As a university that aspires to help the ummah to solve problems and improve their living, the use of the waqaf fund in this manner, to fund financially challenged but deserving students, will ensure sustainability of financial support in contrast to a one-off hand out. USIM therefore seeks to be part of this noble move to contribute towards the growing need to provide access to tertiary education among the ummah.
Q6 What is the future direction of USIM ‘Alamiyyah?
USIM ‘Alamiyyah is also entrusted with a bigger function to strategise for the university to be a significant contributor for the development of global education. It is also within our task to enrich the intercultural setting in the university through internationalization at home activities for the benefit of students and staff, in particular the non-academic staff who do not have opportunities to go abroad.It has been a year and a half since our journey began and Insya Allah we are now ready to fulfil our function. We have seen an almost 100% increase in the number of student mobility programmes both inbound and outbound and we look forward to a more vibrant and expanded international community and activities in the future.