MALAYSIA UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Malaysia 2019 | EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Prof. Dr. Premkumar Rajagopal, President of Malaysia University of Science and Technology (MUST) on Education sector.

Prof. Dr. Premkumar Rajagopal
BIOGRAPHY
Prof. Dr. Premkumar Rajagopal is a specialist in Supply Chain Management (SCM) and is currently President of MUST. He started his career as Manufacturing System Analyst at Seagate Technology (1994-1997), later joined Intel Technology as Logistics Manager and later as Supply Chain Planning Manager. A highly sought-after speaker in the field of Industry 4.0 and SCM, he is frequently invited to speak on Industry 4.0 trends and SCM issues at international conferences in France, China, Indonesia, Philippines, Japan, Sudan, Riyadh, Thailand, India, Colombo, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

Could you tell us about the history of MUST and the vision on which it was founded?

MUST was started in 1997 based on the vision of Tun Mahathir, the Prime Minister at the time. His vision was to have a world-class university in Malaysia that would mirror the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In 1998, the Malaysian government signed an agreement with MIT with funding of MYR100 million (USD23.89 million). The key focus was to bring the system, structure, and culture of MIT to Malaysia and create a postgraduate school in the disciplines of business, IT, and logistics. The first intake was in 2001, though the business faced some tough challenges since it was extremely expensive to maintain the relationship with MIT. Eventually, the agreement with MIT ended in 2009, and the university was unable to sustain itself without external funding. In October 2015, our chairman, who had invested funds to keep the university operational, was in the midst of surrendering the university back to the government, which is when I joined. Within five months, I managed to ensure self-sustainability. When I took over, we had 342 students, and today we have 1,600. If our programs are robust enough and meet the needs of industry, we will be able to take this program to other countries with our existing partners. This platform will first be tested out in Malaysia to determine if industry takes up this program at the PhD and master's level. Undergraduates provide better profit margins than postgraduates, so we will retain our current numbers to keep the university going and support our focus on postgraduate. We have a niche market that is in high demand, and our first-mover advantage allows us to determine the price.