Renowned as Malaysia's pioneer in teacher education, Sultan Idris Education University (SIEU) - known in Malaysia as Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris - has been a pillar of the nation's education since the British colonial period. Following the country's quest to become fully developed, SIEU has launched new programmes to prepare students for a more dynamic and industrialised workplace ahead.
"We are paving the way for students who wish to pursue careers beyond teaching," says SIEU vice-chancellor Professor Dr Zakaria Kasa. "Our faculty members are equipped with technical knowledge and skills, which we apply in non-teaching programmes that we developed in response to the changing market."
While 80 per cent of SIEU's resources still focus on teacher education, 20 per cent is allotted to develop distinctive contemporary programmes that the university believes will be crucial to Malaysia's future. These include diploma, bachelor and postgraduate programmes focusing on game design and development, animation, advertising, software engineering, music, theatre and dance.
"These are non-traditional yet key areas that we need to focus on in order to become a developed country," Kasa says. Introduced in 2010, the programmes will produce the first batch of graduates starting next year.
SIEU's priorities in the next five years include the continuing development of its faculty members and the enhancement of its distance education programme. The university's aim is to attract more international students, and it opened an additional campus in February to accommodate its growing population.
Chosen to host the Third Asian Roundtable of Presidents of Universities of Education next year, SIEU looks forward to forming additional partnerships with academic and private institutions.
It has joint academic programmes with schools in Australia, South Korea and China.
"We aim to be the No 1 in teacher education in Asia," Kasa says. "Beyond that, we want to be recognised as a university that can also generate high-quality graduates for non-teaching professions."