When we hear about the word marketing, few concepts will trigger our mind. We generally will relate to ‘Marketing Mix Principle’ which consist of fundamental such as place, price, product and people. As every organisation claim, people are their most important assets, similarly, the universities have these assets/people where they are the building block in the success of the overall university beside the just financial sustainability. The significant question to be asked, do universities leverage the scholar’s expertise as a marketing tool for the community engagements. When we dive in the word “Engagement in the context of community” it is defined as a meaningful and mutually beneficial collaboration with various stakeholders such as partners in education, business, government and public.
Marketing the Expertise of Scholars in Universities
Universities should be leveraging the scholar’s skill mainly in the aspect of research by discovering innovative solution outside the academic community where new ideas and answers can be found. In addition, the teaching of scholars should be embarked beyond the campus walls where volunteering and sharing their knowledge besides producing and publishing papers will benefit directly the community via lifelong learning programs. Moreover, any services the scholars are intending to do must have a concrete purpose that benefits the public directly or contributing to policy making. Yet, do universities market the full potential of the scholar’s expertise?
In Malaysian contexts, various researches have indicated that scholars can play a vital role in community engagements. However, the collaboration between higher learning institutions towards the community has a huge gap. Moreover, industries that should be interconnecting with universities scholars and community are not functioning to the speed as expected. It has to be noted, that some scholars have to take a proactive move to ensure their institutions have clear direction on how they plan to market them self towards the communities.
In other words, they understand a normal person may not have the time, tools or expertise to read and comprehend the published papers by the scholars. Therefore, the engagements of these scholars have to move in a direction by relating them self in public engagements. Malaysian Universities should be ready to welcome community engagements and collaborations by expanding the knowledge of their scholars and also extending their hands by leveraging experts all over the world to further develop their universities. This effort will surely increase the universities standing inside and outside Malaysia.
The Government of Malaysia is continuing to invest in higher education and hoping universities to a new scene for Malaysia to produce the talents and entrepreneurs that are needed for the country by utilizing their scholar’s capability. The government directions have resulted in some university to develop their education institution by further leveraging their scholar’s expertise.
The Case of Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK)
As an example, Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK) is moving on these directions by marketing their scholar’s expertise towards community engagement. UMK is aiming to become as the number one university in Malaysia focusing as an Entrepreneurship University and to be ranked as top 1 in ASEAN Region in the next few years. This uniqueness and difference clearly stand out where the university leverages the expertise of their scholars and directly supports students to create products and become thriving entrepreneurs. This creates a new set of leaders and entrepreneur to constantly move the economy of Malaysia and in addition, it promotes their scholar’s expertise. Moreover, UMK students have the practical infrastructures that can be implemented based on their ideas which relate to the programs offered by the university in various business ventures, agriculture, oil and gas to medical related programs.
It is amazing to see how Universiti Malaysia Kelantan allows their students to set up their own venture or company by working side by side with the scholars and taking the company to the global stage. Various financial assistance and industries engagement have been put in place to support the students at the university is focusing as an Entrepreneurship University. On the other hand, UMK is actively working with various industries and lately, UMK has signed various MOU to further develop their research department. Furthermore, their well-established relationship with Bursa Malaysia via their Bursa Young Investors Club (BYIC) has taken shape to create more innovative entrepreneurs.
Another example, Universiti Malaysia Kelantan scholars develop their students to focus on products and services that can have an impact on the community and have an emphasis on social entrepreneurship also have been given. This direction has further opened new possibilities to work with secondary high schools in Malaysia by collaborating and engaging with a social enterprise that currently focuses in enhancing the career and counselling department at the national school with the support various Ministries.
The expertise of the scholars in designing and engaging various stakeholder have resulted in Universiti Malaysia Kelantan, BYIC and existing social entrepreneurs to integrate to improve the career and counselling department to focus in creating entrepreneurship is a reality for Malaysian students. This will create a platform for the high school children who have a dream to become entrepreneurs and can further develop their skills in Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK). These examples clearly demonstrate that it is possible for other universities in Malaysia to develop and position them self in their own university aspiration by marketing their scholar’s expertise and having a more impactful project relating with community engagements.
Nevertheless, collaboration within universities is highly needed to have more innovative ideas created by Malaysian scholars and students. The scholar’s expertise should be recognized by the management alongside producing papers. It is time for Malaysia to further develop their higher education institution by creating more practical solutions that can reach to the community and having their papers to be discussed in the community. As mentioned earlier, people are their most important assets, and the university should understand their resources. If this can be further enhanced, it will be a new beginning for Malaysian Universities to have their scholars contributes further to various stakeholders such as partners in education, business, government and public.
Prof. Dr. Balakrishnan Parasuraman is a Professor of HRM and Industrial Relations, Faculty of Entrepreneurship & Business at Universiti Kelantan Malaysia (UMK). Ananda Devan Sivalingam is the Excellence Graduate Assistant (EGA) and Research Fellow at University Kuala Lumpur Business School. Follow Prof Dr Balakrishnan on ResearchGate. Follow Ananda Devan too on ResearchGate.