Our university is small with the capacity of more or less 11,000 students, around 10% of our students come from abroad and about 39 different countries. The uniqueness of our university comes from the philosophy we adopt based on the integration of NAQLI and AQLI. NAQLI is to reveal knowledge and the source comes from the Quran and the Sunnah. AQLI is conventional knowledge, we combine both because we want to have a soul in our education. Even in the west they started to realise that education alone without soul and ethics would have its drawbacks. We don’t only provide our students with the academic knowledge they require but also we make sure they have good ethics and are balanced graduates, so whenever they provide a service they will do it professionally with the positive attitude that comes with it.

Where do you see this unique philosophy taking USIM in its future development?

We are the only university in Malaysia where all of our former Vice Chancellors are still serving the university, for instance our first former Vice Chancellor is still here currently acting as the Chairman of the board of directors of the university. Also the Dean is a former Vice Chancellor, and I believe this is another unique point in our university. In terms of strategic plans we had discussed our philosophy, we had it clear from the beginning and we are still on track. When the previous Vice Chancellor left we discussed our approach together and now we are continuing that strategy. During my era I will focus more on financial sustainability. We know that the AEC will be created soon and look at that as an opportunity for us to share our uniqueness to our neighbouring ASEAN and Islamic countries. Apart from that we will continue branding our university by communicating with the media in the west to highlight our unique philosophy.

What will be the impact of the creation of the Asean Economic Community?

We are quite cautious about the creation of AEC and while we are looking forward to it, at the same time we have some reservations. Basically everything will be open to the ASEAN community and in a way that will bring open competition. We believe that Malaysian holding the chairmanship during creation put us in an advantage. It is a chance for us to share our philosophy, and based on the current response we believe we will have even more collaborations as a result. On the other hand the competition is going to be tough, for instance from Indonesia where they have a lot of Islamic universities. However in general I believe the advantages of the AEC creation outweigh the drawbacks.

Malaysia is going through an incredible process of internationalisation now. What does that mean for the relationship with the United Kingdom?

The way I see it we still have a special relationship with the UK. Despite the disadvantages in relation to the cost of living and cost of education, our government still send our students there every year without fail. I think we can still learn a lot from the UK, not only in terms of academics pursuits but in a daily life, such as the way to communicate, behave and apply ethics. Education is not only about the formal education but about day to day life as well. We have sent our own staff to more than 14 universities in the UK so we have a very good relationship. We want to be a global reference center in the integration of NAQLI and AQLI by 2025, and regionally we want to be the reference by 2016, and for this reason we have to build global ties and embrace internationalisation.