Roundtable discussion on revitalizing University of Yangon

“Our discussions to reform the University of Yangon’s managerial system and the organization of the academic support units, to reflect international universities, and to set up academic divisions has materialized into a draft proposal.”

  • MAAS Vice Chairman Dr. Aung Min

The following is the continuation of the education roundtable discussing the Master Plan for University of Yangon from GNLM’s Sunday issue (3 March). The participants include Dr. Maung Maung Wint, Chairman of the Software Committee and former Director-General of the Medical Science Department under the Ministry of Health and Sports, Dr. Poe Kaung, Rector of the university, and Dr. Aung Min, Vice Chairman of the Myanmar Academy of Arts and Science.

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Facilitator: What parts of the Master Plan have been accomplished so far?
Dr. Aung Min: The upgrading of University of Yangon is one process of the national reform of our education system. The reforms came about as instructions from higher-ups and because of the demands of modern society.
Drafting the Master Plan would be easier if our University Charter was ratified, but sadly this isn’t the case. So, now we have to design the Master Plan to be in line with a University Charter that will be validated in the future, and this has taken considerable discussions and negotiations. The Central European University is taking care of the survey for that by interacting with the faculty, external professionals and the voice of the students.
We’ve engaged in serious discussions to reform the university’s managerial system and the organization of the academic support units, to reflect international universities, and to set up academic divisions, and the result is that the drafting committee is able to produce a complete draft. We’ve sent it to the Steering Committee, Ministry of Education, and to the State Counsellor.

Facilitator: Dr. Poe Kaung, could you explain what tasks you had to take care of in time for the university’s Centenarian milestone 2020?
Dr. Poe Kaung: We need to be practical in setting objectives for the hundred-year mark and there needs to be visible results. In addition to providing a broad vision for transforming the University of Yangon into a Flagship University by 2030, the Master Plan further focuses on four priority areas of implementation and objectives to be achieved by 2020 formulated as Centennial Milestones: (1) improvement of teaching, learning and research, (2) enhancement of English, (3) modernization of ICTs, and (4) campus and facilities upgrade and improving student experience on campus.

Facilitator: What tasks does the Hardware Committee have left to carry out?
Dr. Poe Kaung: The first thing is laying the roads needed to transform the campus into a clean, safe, scenic, and welcoming environment that adheres to health standards. We will expand the landscape on Adipati Road too and ensure there is a clean water supply system too. We will fix the sewage system and renovate the septic tanks and toilets in the campus. We will also make sure there is safety regarding the electrical system.
We have plans to proliferate Internet access to the entire campus, develop the news and information technology, and to incorporate modern technology in the classroom. We will upgrade the library and laboratories and supply the required apparatuses. We will also fulfil requirements related to the sports sector. The designing process for a student centre and a university centre are in progress as well. And finally, we will redevelop the campus and raise the capacity of maintenance and engineering processes.

Facilitator: Dr. Aung Min, could you also chip in on what future processes are onboard?
Dr. Aung Min: We have set course to develop UY as an autonomous Flagship University that caters to international standards. The most vital process among them is amending the university’s constitution. Once we begin implementing our Master Plan, the university will gradually get a University Council, a Senate, and new centers. Since we’re making changes to the constitution, we will have to reassign duties and entitlements, in line with an autonomous institution. Especially important is outlining specific duties of the council members, senator, dean, and registrar. We must raise the competency responsibility of the university’s key persons. I’d like to notify the people that we are doing our best to coordinate the myriad of complicated and interconnected tasks regarding the Master Plan.

Facilitator: Dr. Maung Maung Wint, could you add in on Dr. Aung Min’s comments?
Dr. Maung Maung Wint: Another important segment of our future processes is the teaching and learning culture. We need to review, revise and develop our curricula to fulfil the socioeconomic needs of our people and the nation’s educational requirement.
The curricula will focus on supporting international cooperation, school transfers and exchanges to nurture outstanding citizens for the country. As I’ve mentioned before, we need to make numerous adaptations to our learning and teaching culture. To highlight some elements in that regard, we need to promote critical thinking, and implement a teaching system that brings out the latent talent in our students.
A lot of universities have an outcome-based learning and our quality assurance will depend on this, so we have to give proper training for this to our faculty and students. We will also establish a credit transfer system to help students transferring to other universities or in conducting joint-teaching or learning programs with other universities.
We have outlined in our Master Plan that we will establish a Centre for English Language to improve our academic staff’s English language capacity. Furthermore, if we add in value of research in the teaching and learning exchange then we believe it will promote a culture that promotes research in the campus. In addition, if we provide opportunities for our faculty to perform research programs outside the university, while still receiving pay, then it will increase the quality and quantity of research material for UY, not to mention it will also further support our research culture.

Facilitator: Dr. Poe Kaung, could you add your thoughts to the conversation?
Dr. Poe Kaung: The first thing I’d like to say is we have set up an International Cooperation Office-ICO to support collaboration with international universities and organizations. We also have a human resource management program where we assign duties to our faculty members and staff based on their skills and the needs of the university. We will also provide additional incentives, bonuses and opportunities for growth based on their performances.
We are unfolding the Master Plan in a timely manner. There are three parts to that. We have drafter a charter for UY with regards to the autonomous university initiative and management sector. We will be establishing a University Council and we will appoint a Deputy Rector to facilitate the university’s development. Student representatives will be included in the university’s management system and we are taking care of the enrolment policy.
Another segment is upgrading the quality and capacity of the university itself. This involves managing UY’s development track, drafting a multiyear budget, continuing international cooperation through the ICO, and setting up the internal quality assurance team. All of these tasks first require our faculty and staff to receive regular trainings.

(Translated by Pen Dali)


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