BRUNEI-MUARA — His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah has urged Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) to step up its digital initiatives as the COVID-19 pandemic has driven the need to adopt technology.

Speaking at the 32nd UBD convocation on Monday, the monarch said there is no doubt that the pandemic has stimulated the use of digital technologies, particularly artificial intelligence.

He said UBD must make sure its digital initiatives are in line with the country’s Digital Economy Masterplan 2025 and its research must take into account the ever-changing landscape.

Earlier in March this year, the university moved all its lectures and tutorials online to curb the spread of COVID-19.

UBD adopted a combination of online and face-to-face learning in August after the government eased coronavirus restrictions, said vice-chancellor Datin Dr Hjh Anita Binurul Zahrina POKLWDSS Hj Awg Abdul Aziz.

Graduates take a photo with His Majesty the Sultan at the UBD convocation. Photo: Rasidah Abu Bakar/The Scoop

His Majesty, who is UBD’s chancellor, also lauded the university for updating its computer science course and introducing the new digital science programme.

The Bachelor of Digital Science programme started in August this year and offers four academic disciplines — computer science; data science; artificial intelligence and robotics; as well as cybersecurity and forensics.

The sultan further said UBD’s research in smart farming and personalised medicine — medicine tailored to an individual’s genetic profile — will increase the institution’s competitiveness. 

The university broke into the top 400 Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings for the first time this year.

“The subject physical sciences was ranked for the first time in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. This subject covers chemistry, physics, mathematics and geology. Among the significant achievements are in the impact of research,” said Datin Dr Hjh Anita.

Attendees were required to undergo temperature checks and scan their BruHealth app. Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/The Scoop

This year’s convocation ceremony took place with COVID-19 social distancing measures as attendees were required to self-isolate and take the swab test for coronavirus before they were allowed to take part.

Parents and guardians were placed at satellite sites on campus where they could watch the convocation ceremony via live streaming.

UBD graduates pose for a photo with their certificates. Photo: Infofoto

A total of 1,182 graduates received their certificates this year, including 40 PhD graduates, 265 master’s degree holders, 805 undergraduates, 65 graduate diploma and seven diploma recipients.

The convocation also awarded degrees to the first cohort of graduates in Bachelor of Health Science in Pharmacy, Bachelor of Health Science in Dentistry, Master of Medicine, Master of Defence and Security Studies and PhD in Islamic Governance.