Kamila Ghazali – Developing Global Graduates and a University Fit for the Future

Location – City Campus, Block A, Ground Floor, Administration Wing, Jalan Tun Ismail, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur

Website – https://www.iumw.edu.my

Contact +6012-344 9661

Educational leaders are pivotal in affecting their institutions’ climate, attitude, and reputation. Under successful leadership, universities become places where students are not only educated but challenged, nurtured, and encouraged.

Kamila Ghazali has spent most of her career in education and is currently the Vice-Chancellor of the International University of Malaya-Wales (IUMW), Malaysia. With a wealth of experience in academia and leadership, she has set out a clear vision for the University and strives to provide students with a holistic educational experience, nurturing leaders of the future.

Career at a Glance

I have worked in education for most of my career; it has always been my passion. I spent most of those years building my career at Universiti Malaya (UM), Malaysia’s oldest and number-one university. I spent over 20 years in senior positions at UM, at national and international levels, including roles as the Director of International & Corporate Relations, Deputy Dean of the Institute of Graduate Studies, and three years as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic and International). Then in January 2022, I took up the Vice-Chancellor role at the International University of Malaya Wales (IUMW).

I was part of the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics at UM, and my areas of expertise and interests lie in critical discourse analysis and sociolinguistics.

Creating a Technology-Enabled University

Technology has become integral to academic life, and IUMW has invested in new solutions to ensure that technology helps give students the best learning experience. This year, we formed the University’s first EdTech Centre. The Centre oversees all technological education advancements to ensure our success in implementing educational technology initiatives.

To complement video lectures and engage students in the virtual classroom, IUMW has adopted technologies that enable more interactivity such as interactive blog learning, engaging online activities, and even a virtual lab for our science subjects.

We are integrating smart classrooms into our campus, which are technology-enhanced classrooms that foster unique teaching and learning opportunities by integrating technology with specialized software and audio/visual capabilities.

We are also currently investing to scale up our online program offerings including Open and Distance Learning degrees and micro-credentials. The education landscape is shifting and we have to move with it, so we are designing courses that will better meet the needs of non-traditional learners.

A Global Outlook

One thing we have looked at this year at IUMW is how we can continue to grow our international strategy. We already offer transnational education in collaboration with our UK partner, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, and have a significant international student population. In just the last few months we have brought IUMW to an even wider global platform, forming collaborative partnerships with institutions in both Indonesia and Japan.

We want to produce graduates and faculty who are confident and sensitive when working in any cultural setting and who understand different perspectives beyond that of their home culture. Bringing high-quality international partnerships into our strategy helps to create that mix. We’re always looking for new academic, research, and industry partners who share our ambition to develop global graduates, global leaders, global citizens, and global researchers.

A University Set in Malaysia’s Thriving Capital

IUMW comes from a long and rich history; owned by Universiti Malaya and the University of Wales, the two oldest universities in their respective countries. It was established in 2013 and since then has experienced tremendous growth; now a community of almost 2000 students from across the globe. We’re located right in the heart of the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, famed for its melting pot of cultures and many tourist attractions including the world-famous Petronas Twin Towers.

Students come to IUMW because the programs we provide are unique. We offer UK degrees in collaboration with UWTSD, and students can also study at their UK campus – so they truly get the best of both worlds. They benefit from meaningful global learning opportunities that will help them when they begin their career. An international perspective is important in today’s global workforce, and that is something we believe we offer here at IUMW.

Professor Kamila, speaking during a Memorandum of Understanding signing event at IUMW

Leadership Challenges

The lack of clear communication in any organization can be detrimental to the efficient running of its operations, and that can affect productivity and desired outcomes. Communication is key in risk management; all stakeholders must be kept up to date on relevant aspects of the organization as well as challenges that may arise. When communication is clear, there is a level of transparency and trust among staff, and a sense of inclusivity is built.

Challenges, as they arise, are best dealt with together as a team. I firmly believe that a leader is only as strong as the team she builds. When kept up to speed with clear communication, a team will have little or no hesitation in pulling together to solve challenges together. 

Source of Motivation

Students motivate me. We have a responsibility to mold these young minds into responsible, knowledgeable, respectful adults who care about the community and the environment. They put enormous trust in us to help them with their professional and personal development. The experience they gain, both in and out of the classroom while at university, at the most vulnerable age of their lives, will in large part shape the person they will become, making their years at university arguably the most important period of their lives. So, as much as possible, the university has to evolve and develop programs that lend themselves to producing graduates who will be useful citizens of the world.

Education is a field where you can help young people directly and in a personal way; potentially changing their lives for the better. Teaching is more than just a job. I make it about them and not me, and that’s really motivating.

Current Climate in Malaysia’s Education Sector

The last 2 years were perhaps some of the most challenging for educators and students in not just our nation’s history, but right across the globe. The pandemic exposed the vulnerabilities of an education system that was not equipped for remote learning. As difficult as it was, the pandemic served as a catalyst for innovation in our sector, which might have otherwise taken years or even decades to take place, to the extent that it has. It has given teachers and academic institutions opportunities to innovate and improve their teaching methods. Many institutions have built on existing teaching and communication skills and developed new technical skills to integrate digital tools into their student engagement methods.

It is up to us to use this momentum to build a more resilient digital infrastructure for our education system, so we can generate even greater potential in this era.

Journey into Education

My mother was my motivation for a career in education. She lived in an era when it was not common for girls to go to school beyond a certain level. She was top of her class when she had the opportunity to go to school. Her ambition was to be an educator. In part, I feel like I was able to fulfill that ambition for her.

Looking Towards the Future

We have grand ambitions at IUMW. Over the last 10 years, we have seen incredible growth, and we plan to keep building on that. We see the value of higher education as great today as it was when our parent universities were founded, over 100 years ago, so we want to see our university grow and develop within the niche that we have already built for ourselves.

We are looking to become an even more collaborative and impactful university; doing more than ever to produce the workforce, research, partnerships, and innovation needed to impact society for the better. Some of our priorities include academic quality; student success; and strategic growth.

Advice for Students

My message to students would be to use university as a platform to grow and expand their thinking skills, far beyond academics. They must take advantage of positive social interactions and develop friendships for life. University opens doors like no other time in your life. It’s a freeing journey, a time to experiment, discover what you love and decide who you want to become. We are all responsible for our development, so use the special years in university wisely. Also, remember that succeeding at university does not mean never making mistakes. We all make mistakes. That’s how we learn and grow. It’s learning from your mistakes that get you closer to your goals. Only you can write your story, so take charge and write a good one!

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