BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA) must engage in digital transformation and offer courses that meet the needs of a rapidly changing world, the sultan said on Thursday. 

This does not mean the university should neglect its primary role of producing credible ulama (Muslim scholars) and intellectuals, he added, speaking at UNISSA’s convocation ceremony held at the International Convention Centre. 

“As a knowledge hub, UNISSA cannot escape the current challenges and demands. This includes UNISSA’s willingness to engage in the wave of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which has drastically changed the way people and the world work.”

As Brunei’s first Islamic tertiary institution, UNISSA’s goals are different from other universities in the country, the monarch said.

“Its spirit and goals are different… It is not a pressing matter [for UNISSA] to catch up to current world rankings, as it is another person’s creation and their own criteria of excellence.”

Family members show their support to new graduates at UNISSA’s convocation ceremony on August 29, 2019. Photo: Infofoto

He added that the benchmark for academic excellence should be established through the work of its student and lecturers; and the number of books, research and scholarly articles the university produces. 

His Majesty also rejected the idea that Islamic higher education was irrelevant, saying it was a necessity for Brunei.

“Islamic studies and education must continue to be strengthened, as it is the core of all interests, capable of creating good for the nation.”

A total of 289 students graduated from UNISSA today. Among the degree programmes offered are Islamic Law; Usuluddin, Tahfiz and Qira’at; business management; science in Islamic finance; Shariah; Islamic history and civilisation; Arabic language; and halal science.