24 February 2023

13th AUN Rectors’ Meeting: High Impact Achievements and the Four Data Strategies of Universiti Sains Malaysia

Patitin Lertnaikiat
AUN Programme Officer;

Quick recap, the topic of the third agenda at the 13th AUN Rectors’ Meeting was “Data Strategies and the Achievements of High-Impact University Missions”. Data is constantly scaling up in the world at any time. Not only do we have more data in every passing moment, but the rate of data that comes and goes has always been rising. This exponential growth in the magnitude, velocity, and complexity of data has resulted in the demand for Universities to develop a data strategy policy to fully exploit data’s potential and increase the capacity to achieve high-impact missions. To start off the third agenda with our first speaker, Prof. Dr. Narimah Samat, Vice Chancellor of Academic and International from Universiti Sains Malaysia, took to the podium to present their achievements and the four main data strategies of USM. 

Prof. Dr. Narimah Samat began with explaining the High Impact University Mission of USM. In 2008, the university was selected by the Ministry of Higher Education to be the only one with the status of APEX, Accelerated Programme for Excellence. The programme assists higher education institutions by rapidly developing them to be recognized as a world class university. USM fulfills this role by committing to three key actions: Strategic Development, Marketing & Promotion, and Asset Monetization. Development of projects and infrastructure can be costly, USM has to be strategic about it by developing for the purpose of achieving long-term sustainability. Afterwards, marketing and promotion has to be on point in order to create a brand that reaches out globally and to expand USM’s network. In the midst of all of this, USM then has to carefully manage the monetization of assets by carefully strategizing business plans, requests for proposals (RFPs), and strategic ventures.

USM is also responsible for developing impressive landmark projects. Prof. Dr. Narimah shared interesting information and photos of the projects.

The Kopa Arena-min.png
Penang, Malaysia’s very first sports field under FIFA standards with a second one in development in the town of Kubang Kerian, Kelantan. This investment will open opportunities for partnerships in sports development.

USM Solar Energy-min.png

USM provided assistance in setting up 22,000 solar modules! It has resulted in 30% cost savings and accommodating up to 64% of peak power demand in the area.

USM Off Campus Residences-min.png
Off-campus residences will ensure students, staff, and guests of USM will be well accommodated.

As a higher education institution, a home for research, learning, and knowledge sharing, USM has to store a tremendous amount of data in a way that is efficient and accessible. Without a well designed system, it will be difficult to properly utilize stored data. To solve this, USM has four data strategies: 1) People and Capability, 2) Data Governance, 3) Technology, 4) Capacity and Skill.

1. People and Capability
The first strategy is People and Capability, USM has appointed a Chief Information Officer (CIO) who oversees the development of the framework for the University’s data driven processes. The CIO is in charge of preserving the data and responsible for making sure that it and its users are both secure. It is also paramount that the CIO also maintains the infrastructure by implementing the use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT). Once the data is stored and secure, the CIO will also be in charge of promoting data sharing and disseminating digital data to users.

2. Data Governance
The CIO is only responsible for storing, securing, and disseminating the data, without necessarily being aware of what it may contain. This is where the second strategy comes in, Data Governance. USM established the University Data Governance Committee, which is responsible for data planning, monitoring, organizing and data management. Along with the committee is the Institutional Planning & Strategic Centre (IPSC) which is responsible and accountable for the strategic direction of data and analytics in the university. Together, both groups will ensure all data are properly organized and set up to be disseminated for use.

3. Technology
For the third data strategy, Technology, USM has created the Institutional Data Monitoring System (IDMS), which is capable of extracting data from the university's central database and converting it into the format required for reporting, analysis, and monitoring. Through IDMS, all central data will be displayed live and available for reporting and auditing. 

4. Capacity and Skill
However, having all of this data stored would be of no use if the University personnel does not have the knowledge to effectively utilize it. The fourth strategy, Capacity and Skill, aims to solve this issue. USM ensures that relevant staff master the latest technology related to management, analysis and data analytics and IT-related smart technology. To achieve this, USM has their staff go through a training and development program to become well-versed data literacy and skilled in data analytics.

USM’s excellent data strategies and high impact projects have already made a positive impact for Malaysia. And all their efforts have placed the university as one of the top in Malaysia. Times Higher Education has ranked USM as the fourth in the Global Impact Ranking!