Industry experts enhance learning

Adjunct Professor lecture series with Nik Hasyudeen Yusoff at the Faculty of Business and Accountancy in UM.

UNIVERSITIES are increasingly emphasising closer ties with the industry and its professionals to keep up with the challenging role of preparing graduates for the workplace.

Guest lecturers, specifically practising industry professionals, frequently teach and share experiences with undergraduates and postgraduate students doing research.

Where subjects have close ties to the industry, seminar-style lectures by a diverse range of professionals are seen as a more desirable way to introduce tertiary students to the disciplines.


University of Malaya’s Faculty of Business and Accountancy senior lecturer Dr Zarina Zakaria said academia-industry involvement has been ongoing at the institution for quite some time.

Named as Practitioners’ Sharing Sessions, the initiative is significant as it brings the real-world situation faced by those in practice into the classroom.

UM Faculty of Business and Accountancy senior lecturer Zarina Zakaria.

“It exposes students to the practical aspects and, to a certain extent, the know-how so that they will be able to translate theories and concepts into practice.

“This has enhanced students’ understanding of various topics,” said Zarina.

She believes that teaching and learning cannot be achieved in silo as both must acknowledge the ecosystem — by recognising the significance of systems, skills and processes — and industry experts need to share real-life processes with students.

“Talks by industry professionals in various fields and of special expertise enhance the learning process,” she added.

The faculty has also appointed former Securities Commission Malaysia’s market and corporate supervision executive director Nik Hasyudeen Yusoff as adjunct professor.

His area of expertise is in accounting; he has 23 years of industry experience and international exposure to financial reporting and auditing. He is currently Innovastra Capital Sdn Bhd director.

“Nik Hasyudeen is one good example of industry professionals who can relate their experiences for the benefit of undergraduates. His lectures are relevant to his profession, with real-life examples of the workplace,” she added.

A fellow of CPA Australia and a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy and Malaysian Institute of Accountants, he also sits on the Advisory Board at the Faculty of Business and Accountancy at UM.

“Recently, the Malaysian Institute of Corporate Governance held a forum panel

on the topic, Board Effectiveness: The Role

of Audit Committees, with students,” added Zarina.

“This event enabled us to bring the boardroom to the classroom. Panel members, who are also board members, shared how directors interact with the management.

“Likewise, we invite corporations to discuss topics such as transfer pricing, auditing of specialised industries, fraud audit as well various financial and management accounting issues.

“Most industry professionals volunteer

their time and get to know the students in the process. For example, the Big 4 Public Accounting Firms have been offering students book prizes, internships and permanent job offers.

“The sessions enable the firms to get students’ feedback on the reason why they regard them as their employers of choice.

“In return, students learn of their expectations at the workplace. They visit the industry to expose themselves to the real work situation and get a feel of the environment.

“The presence of industry professionals in undergraduate teaching is a good avenue to foster a better relationship between the industry, academia and students.”

UM realises the importance of balancing soft and hard skills because it is one of

many ways to prepare students for the workplace.

“They need to be exposed to emerging topics in their area of studies and industry experts share with students how to deal with challenges in practice.

“Students can’t be spoon-fed in the workplace. They need to take charge. We

can put academia-industry collaboration in place but, at the end of the day, it is all up to them.”


Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) Adjunct Professor Zulkifli Abd Rani said one way

for higher education institutions in the

country to bridge the gap between

academia and industry is to increase the involvement of industry professionals at universities.

Zulkifli believes that this prepares graduates to be market-ready and secure employment within six months after graduation.

The country’s economy is expected to grow at a fast pace in the future, and the education sector will expand in tandem with rapid industrialisation.

“It will require a bigger workforce and open up job opportunities in the future.

“However, despite promising days ahead, many of our graduates are still unemployable,” he said.

While there is no easy solution to the problem, there are several ideas worth pursuing.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) Adjunct Professor Zulkifli Abd Rani.

Based on his 27 years of experience in the oil and gas industry and having served it in three capacities as an operator, contractor and regulator, Zulkifli added there is a mismatch between the curriculum and industry needs and academia aspirations.

By Zulita Mustafa.

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