Jobs in engineering, accounting and computing are all fields that will be in demand as Brunei moves towards fulfilling its human resource goals as part of Vision 2035.

To ensure that Brunei’s young graduates are competitive — and on par with international standards — accreditation of their courses from professional bodies matters.

We talked to the deans of three faculties at Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB) to understand the value a professionally accredited degree can add to a graduates’ job prospects and earning potential.

Dr Hj Mohammed Saleem Hj Nazmudeen, Dean of the UTB School of Business: 

“Accreditation is actually a recognition of the quality of our programmes. Last October, our accounting programme was accredited by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA),” he said.

The acceleration programme allows all students enrolled in the Bachelor of Business (Hons) in Accounting and Information Systems to enter a fast track to become a chartered accountant (CA).

The degree provides an exemption from nine modules of ACCA exams, shaving months off the time it typically takes to be a CA.

“They will have to only sit only four modules. And our partnership with ACCA gives them the opportunity to sit for the exams while they are studying. If they are prepared well, we help them with the training.”

Industry experience is also an important part of gaining professional accreditation, and UTB offers work placements to help students gain the experience they need to qualify as a CA.

“Those who are certified definitely draw a better salary compared to those who are not,” said Dr Hj Mohammed Saleem. “This is a recognition that somebody is qualified, and can actually perform and deliver.”

“It also guarantees we deliver quality people to the industry and employers can hire our graduates without any skepticism.”

The dean shared that UTB is also moving towards getting all programmes under the School of Business accredited via the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), which offers the gold standard of accreditation for business schools.

Dean of UTB School of Business, Dr Hj Mohd Saleem (L), shakes the hand of Alex Foong of ACCA (R), during the signing of an agreement accrediting the school’s programmes. Witnessing the signing is UTB vice-chancellor Prof Dr Hjh Zohrah. Photo: Courtesy of UTB

Professor Dr Eric Dimla, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering: 

Not to be outdone, the Faculty of Engineering also successfully attained accreditation from the UK’s Joint Board of Moderators (JBM), which represents four different civil engineering institutions — the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE), the Chartered Institution of Highway and Transportation (CIHT) and the Institute of Highway Engineers (IHE).

“What this means is our standards are as good as any international competitor. It ensures that the quality of the programmes they’re doing at UTB meet the highest professional standards,” Professor Dimla said.

The Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) in Civil Engineering and Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) in Civil & Structural Engineering were both accredited last October as partially satisfying the educational base to become a chartered engineer (CEng).

Graduates pursuing CE status then undertake a masters programme to complete the academic requirements of JBM, followed by gaining relevant industry experience.

“It’s a recognition that the degree satisfies the graduate to be on course to gain chartered status, provided they gain the necessary industry experience and exposure,” Dr Dimla explained.

“The type of industries that operate in Brunei require international expertise… and becoming a chartered engineer means you’re working at the highest level in your profession.”

The professor said professionally accredited programmes as well as UTB’s QS rating are important international markers that will grow the university’s reputation.

“UTB only started offering the bachelor of engineering since 2008. For us to have a programme that is already accredited it’s a testament to the dedication of our staff and management to support the development [of the university].”

As the first engineering programmes in Brunei to be accredited by JBM, Dr Dimla said local graduates should no longer think of themselves at a disadvantage just because they didn’t do their degree overseas.

“I don’t want my students here at UTB to be at a job disadvantage, just because they did not do a degree in the UK. I want them to be proud they did a degree at UTB and they can stand their ground when they compare themselves to students who did their degrees in the UK, Australia or America.”

The dean added that within the next two years, the faculty is working towards getting its mechanical and electrical engineering programmes accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), the largest multidisciplinary professional engineering institution in the world.

“We are very ambitious and goal-driven,” he said.

Dr Au Thien Wan, Dean of the School of Computing and Informatics: 

In November, the School of Computing and Informatics joined the growing list of UTB’s professionally accredited faculties, when the British Computing Society (BSC) approved the school’s programmes as fulfilling the academic requirements for chartered IT professional (CIPT).

“When our students graduate with a BCS accredited degree it provides the opportunity to apply for professional membership of BCS and a progression pathway to CITP,” said Dr Au.

“Once they are a member of BSC with sufficient working experience, they can gain CIPT status.”

The dean shared that the school is working to produce more IT professionals such as web developers, network engineers, cybersecurity analysts, programmers, and many more.

“Brunei is working towards a digital economy and you need the expertise in this field.”

“We need to have good developers and software engineers to meet the growing demand on Internet of Things, clouds, data centres, web applications, databases, networks and security. These are the things that will make Vision 2035 a reality,” he added.

Dr Au said that the top 10 per cent of computing students are sent on an educational exchanges to universities overseas, such as the Korea Advanced Institute Science and Technology, ranked 6th best university in Asia by QS World University Rankings and widely regarded as one of the most innovative universities in the world.

“We are definitely committed to the progression of our students,” he said. “Getting the school accredited was not an easy process — it took mountains of documentation, as well as a visit from the BSC to assess the quality and relevance of our courses.”

“By seeking accreditation from BCS, institutions are demonstrating and setting an international benchmark that is recognised by other countries that have signed international agreements,” Dr Au said.

“When [our students] graduate the employers can be assured they are qualified.”