Degrees to thrive in the digital economy
Yeoh Swee En

Technology has disrupted and will continue to disrupt the world of work. While the dramatic proclamations of robots taking over are proven exaggerations, technology is still making most, if not all, industries adapt. From healthcare to journalism, HR to audit, and banking to manufacturing, automation, big data analytics and artificial intelligence are just some of the areas causing ripples in labour markets worldwide. Other forms of innovation, barely within our comprehension, are still to come.

But what do you need to thrive in this digital economy?

It starts with education. A degree can no longer rely on stagnant pools of knowledge. Training must mirror the new and coming worlds of work, while social skills should complement all the above.

Curtin University, Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) takes a multifaceted approach to preparing students for their future careers and lives. Behind every course is a foundation of cutting-edge research, and this Malaysian outpost of a leading Australian university is ranked within the global top 300 according to the recent CWTS Leiden Ranking 2019. The 2020 edition of the QSWUR, which highlights the top 1000 universities in the world, showed Curtin’s continued improvement in global rankings, jumping 20 places from last year’s results to 230 in the world.

Curtin Malaysia Pro Vice-chancellor, President and Chief Executive Professor Jim Mienczakowksi, said Curtin Malaysia said Curtin Malaysia is a key contributor to the university’s strong research performance as its largest international campus and global hub in Asia.

“We are proud to be able to play a key role in expanding Curtin’s global reputation and educational and research footprint in the region, particularly here in Borneo where our research activities and collaborations are making significant impact on local industries and the community,” said the Professor.

It’s a strategy that future-proofs against “obsolete degrees,” as described in The University of the Future report released last May in Australia by consultancy firm EY. “[Forty] percent of degrees will soon be obsolete,” the report found. Among the nearly 1,200 graduates surveyed in the research, “42 percent felt [that] their degree structure [was] outdated, [and] lacked digital skills training, complex problem solving, and team work”

“Australia’s current university model, with its focus on ‘traditional’ undergraduate degrees, will be less relevant in this future world.”

But there’s nothing obsolete about the courses at Curtin Malaysia. Take the latest additions to its list of degrees offered; the three-year Bachelor of Science (Computing) programme featuring a choice of two streams – Software Engineering and Cyber Security. Both are fields with bright job prospects and high remuneration in this digital age. Curtin’s ranking for employer reputation has also risen into the world’s top 200 universities with a result of 185, showing an improvement in employer assessments of Curtin’s graduate employability.

Yeoh Swee En, a Malaysian student in the Bachelor of Science (Computing) – Cyber Security programme, said: “We have a small class size so that gives me a lot of access to my lecturers during classes. The learning facilities for the course are excellent and the study materials are really good too.”

Other new courses launched include a new Bachelor of Commerce in Management and Human Resource Management, Master of Commerce in Marketing and Master of International Business.  Curtin Malaysia’s ongoing campus expansion includes the newly completed Curtin Trading Room. Fashioned after a similar facility at its main campus in Perth, the completed facility will provide business students with a real life trading floor environment. This is a distinctive learning space that simulates a real-life business environment to prepare students with the practical skills they need to be career-ready. The trading room is equipped with trading and financial analysis software, and allows for financial simulations.

Commenting on the two new postgraduate options, Professor Mienczakowski said: “A postgraduate course deepens knowledge and perspective while expanding an individual’s options for advancement. Employers also seek to hire the best, especially for mid-level and senior roles, so demand is shifting to candidates who bring to the table postgraduate qualifications and working experience.

There are many reasons why a postgraduate business degree from Curtin Malaysia stands out in the digital economy.

The Master of International Business comprises of both independent study and team projects across a range of relevant, internationally focused subjects. Some students might even get the chance to plan and experience an international study tour. These are experiences that trains students to respond creatively and effectively to generate innovative solutions to complex issues in international business. On top of this, they gain valuable soft skills such as professional and effective communication, whether by written or oral means to diverse stakeholders, within the ethical and professional framework of international business.

Or take the Master of Commerce in Marketing for example, a course that covers aspects of marketing communication, digital marketing and the application of marketing in particular industries, such as tourism.

There is an application of cutting-edge technology such as the distributed learning (DL) platform to deliver lectures, tutorials and project between the Malaysian campus and the Australian campus in Perth. Other electronic resources, including digital and new interactive media to effectively collect and analyse marketing data, adopt an appropriate blend of new and traditional technologies to implement coherent strategic initiatives in marketing to engage with stakeholders.

Dr Samuel Adeyinka-Ojo, senior lecturer in the Department of Marketing, Faculty of Business, said: “This course is industry-focused and relevant to the global marketing profession in a disruptive digital innovation era…Notably, there is regular interaction with industry through guest speakers and practical workplace projects. Students will have the opportunity to apply critical thinking and analytical abilities to modern marketing challenges, with particular focus on advanced digital marketing in an international context.”

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