BRUNEI-MUARA – Conferment of academic honours should not be politicised or used as a tool to “harm the recipient when it is withdrawn for political reasons”, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah said on Thursday.

Speaking at Universiti Brunei Darussalam’s 31st convocation ceremony, the monarch said university degrees should be a recognition of learning, and not mixed with political interests.

“If these are mixed, the degree could be a commodity or tool used to harm the recipient when it is withdrawn for political reasons.”

“UBD and all our institutions of higher learning should not copy such an approach which is not Islamic.”

The sultan also stressed the importance of Islamic leadership, which he hoped would be a major field of study at UBD.

A UBD student snaps a photo with her smartphone during the university’s 31st convocation ceremony on Aug 22, 2019. Photo: Infofoto

Addressing graduates, the sultan urged them to take advantage of the opportunities in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, saying they should persevere through “rapidly changing paradigms”.

“The explosion of technology has led to the fastest changes in the history of human civilisation… We must not be left behind… We must always improve ourselves and if necessary improve our education system”.

He praised UBD for updating its curriculum to introduce aspects of digital technology to all its undergraduate programmes, and making changes to include emerging fields of study such as data analytics, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.

The monarch expressed hope that these changes would create “future-ready graduates”, who would spur job creation and not just rely on existing jobs.

He added that the establishment of the multi-disciplinary UBD Start-Up Centre would also help encourage entrepreneurship among students.

Some 1,211 students were awarded degrees from UBD this year — 29 PhD graduates, 199 master holders, 964 bachelor graduates as well as 19 diploma recipients.