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Author Topic: Universiti Brunei Darussalam  (Read 378302 times)
zulgabe
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« Reply #75 on: March 25, 2012, 7:40:44 PM »


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I have never heard of this beanery ever.  Claim all you want as you need to get your hot, empty air out.

There is a world of difference between constructive and unconstructive criticism: the one contributes to building an organisation, the other to destroying it. If one pays attention to the latter, one doesn't get anywhere, therefore honour it by ignoring it!


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The brilliant paragraph above set off my BS detector (so did Cross- and Trans-Interdisciplinary mumbo jumbo).  Ask Hemingway why.

Btw, who is Hemingway anyway?
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valueadded
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« Reply #76 on: March 25, 2012, 9:51:47 PM »

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At least they wouldn't be "dinosaurs", merely uneducated (which is clearly the lesser sin of the two).

Instead of lecturing on how UBD should be run, you should understand that Brunei is not the US. It is a small country that needs to strategise and synergise. Tomorrow's UBD has to re-define education that will produce staff and students who are IT savvy, entrepreneurial, and knowledgeable across different fields and can contribute to the national vision of a diversified Bruneian economy. Old school lecture-based, discipline-centred, classroom-teaching merely stifles creativity and curiosity and thereby holds back development.
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awg_budiman
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« Reply #77 on: March 26, 2012, 6:03:45 AM »

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Naive it may be, but it comes with a big price tag. More than $2 million were spent to bring the Noel Tichy franchise over to Brunei, a price tag which has now apparently quietly almost doubled due to various follow-up, up-grading, add-on, whatever programs. The Tichy bandwagon from Michigan U Business School had some success in turning around the New York public school system, but Brunei isn't New York. There was something disconcerting and almost comical in seeing him and his team teach (preach?) American leadership values and skills in a social environment about which they had no idea at all and to an audience from which they were fundamentally disconnected culturally. The belief that a model of leadership that may have worked in inner city New York can be bought over and imported to Brunei lock, stock and barrel and then produce the same results here borders on belief in magic.

I would like to ask all those who underwent the leadership training programmes, what difference this has made to the way they function in the university? And those who didn't undergo the programmes, whether they notice any difference in the way the university functions?

Was it worth the multi-million dollar investment?
Or could the money have been spent more beneficially to develop the university in other ways?
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culture_jammer
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« Reply #78 on: March 26, 2012, 7:33:17 PM »

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I would like to ask all those who underwent the leadership training programmes, what difference this has made to the way they function in the university? And those who didn't undergo the programmes, whether they notice any difference in the way the university functions?

Well, I have to admit that there is a certain entertainment value in seeing some of the senior management team making fools of themselves playing team-building and leadership games like boy scouts. But otherwise I don't see any benefit or any impact on the way the university works.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2012, 7:35:13 PM by culture_jammer » Logged
bakunin
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« Reply #79 on: March 26, 2012, 10:10:16 PM »


Despite the sleek corporate cloak of entrepreneurial leadership that the senior management assumes, the place is actually run by feudalistic patronage networks behind the scene.

The notion of entrepreneurial leadership was used by the people like Schumpeter and Drucker and other Austrians as a counter-force to rigid bureaucratic power by introducing such personal elements as individual creativity, risk-taking and responsibility-bearing into organisational structures. But it assumes the existence of an efficient organisational environment in the first place.

But for the senior management at UBD the personal element appears to be reduced to the exercise of arbitrary and unaccountable power legitimised by them having gone through Noel Tichy's million dollar leadership training. In reality Tichy's mantrams are quickly reduced to ritualistic formalae, and instead ill-defined, opaque and inconsistent principles, such as team-playing, leadership potential and personal relations substitute for knowledge, qualifications and experience. The latter are delegitimised as old school, and what matters is who one plays golf with or who one's brother-in-law is. The top guy brings his "good friend" (quote) as his sidekick. The sidekick brings in his "friends", who bring in their cronies and so it goes on.

Yes, personal networking is important in academia anywhere, but one should ask what are the priorities here: the astute use of personal expert networks to develop institutional capacities? Or the somewhat crude use of institutional resources to build personal political networks? There may at times only be a fine line between the two, but is instructive to pursue this question and look at the emerging patterns.

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culture_jammer
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« Reply #80 on: March 27, 2012, 9:08:57 PM »


I am not so sure about the "UBD 2015: Top 50 in Asia" vision, but the reality is "UBD 2012: No. 1 on the CHE Working Abroad Forum"!
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hayy_yaqzan
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« Reply #81 on: March 27, 2012, 9:58:39 PM »

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The party leadership dreams up a vision and pushes its implementation down the hierarchy. The middle rungs of the party are reluctant to report problems and failures to the top leadership. The people at the bottom suffer while the top leadership remains incommunicado in their bunker. A textbook failure of communication or am I imagining things?

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I would like to ask all those who underwent the leadership training programmes, what difference this has made to the way they function in the university? And those who didn't undergo the programmes, whether they notice any difference in the way the university functions? Was it worth the multi-million dollar investment?
Or could the money have been spent more beneficially to develop the university in other ways?  

Its' obvious  that there is a fundamental break-down of communication in the university which has resulted in a deepening of the gap between the present administration and the academic staff. When the administration came in some three years ago things were different: in his first week in office the VC went on a walk-around campus, later he met with Heads of Departments in each Faculty. Next semester he just gave a general address to all  the academic staff. The year after that he only sent a letter around. And now he has become an inaccessible figure mysteriously looming over the campus.

To face the heat he has his sidekick, who will no doubt eventually end up as the scapegoat for all the problems, and has to some extent already assumed that role ("I am not here to make myself popular") and will be disposed off accordingly at a convenient time, thereby absorbing the blame and absolving the leadership.

Meanwhile the middle rungs of the hierarchy are caught in a difficult position between an increasingly autocratic administration and an academic staff that suffers from a deepening sense of alienation. Any arena in which the two could confront each other is blocked out. Troublemakers have been purged. Meetings are increasingly a thing of the past. Faculty Board meetings are the exception rather than the rule, department heads (ironically now called "Programme Leaders" or more economically "PLs")  have been reduced to a rubber stamp function and many are uncomfortable defending policies that they know their staff are critical off. If they defend them enthusiastically, they appear as opportunists; if they defend them half-heartedly, they are seen as hypocrites. Either way they lose in credibility. So meetings are only held when it's inevitable, which is usually when a formal approval is required for something rather than at a point when substantive discussions should take place.

I wonder what Noel Tichy would have to say about all this?
« Last Edit: March 27, 2012, 10:03:15 PM by hayy_yaqzan » Logged
brixton
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« Reply #82 on: March 28, 2012, 4:43:11 PM »

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most staff at UBD have undergone years or decades of training in specialist areas, and would be happy to contribute their expertise to the development of a productive regional research university

This is the problem with many UBD staff. Instead of exploring new scientific areas, they want to remain as narrow specialists. In this day and age, we need people who go beyond the tunnel vision of their cosy disciplines and can engage in trans- and cross-disciplinary teaching and research that are able to add value to conventional knowledge production. Just look at research programmes and teaching curriculums at top-ranking universities, such as Harvard or Oxford. We can't afford to become a university of dinosaurs, so come out of your cocoon.

I rather like the vaguely scientific mixed metaphor here. Dinosaurs emerging from cocoons. Hmmm. Perhaps the result of trans- or cross-disciplinary leadership seminars.
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absal
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« Reply #83 on: March 28, 2012, 8:15:41 PM »

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the sleek corporate cloak of entrepreneurial leadership that the senior management assumes,

Don't forget the place is really run by a practising medical doctor, not a CEO, an academic or administrator. However personable, a medical doctor has real power over you. He (thinks he) knows what you don't know. He makes the diagnosis, he prescribes the medication. The patient has to follow instructions and swallow the bitter pill. If the doctor is understanding and thinks you are smart enough, he may even explain what's wrong with you in simple words and what the medicine will do about it. But it's not up to the patient to question the doctor, negotiate the diagnosis, or haggle over the medicines. Doctors are quite sensitive towards that sort of thing because it questions their authority. If the treatment doesn't work, they change the diagnosis and try another medicine. If it still doesn't work, they ask whether you are really taking their medicine.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2012, 8:18:33 PM by absal » Logged
bakunin
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« Reply #84 on: March 28, 2012, 10:17:54 PM »

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Don't forget the place is really run by a practising medical doctor

Medical doctor or medicine man? Bomohs too believe in the magical power of words: "If we don't say it, we won't do it: UBD 2015: Top 50 in Asia"! We just have to keep on repeating the magical formula until it becomes reality...  and if nothing happens we just try another mantram.
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tong_in_cheek
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« Reply #85 on: March 29, 2012, 8:28:38 AM »

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"If we don't say it, we won't do it: UBD 2015: Top 50 in Asia"

This discussion reminds me of Napoleon Bonaparte's intriguing statement that "Leaders are dealers in hope."
« Last Edit: March 29, 2012, 8:29:11 AM by tong_in_cheek » Logged
bangsy
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Posts: 82


« Reply #86 on: March 29, 2012, 7:40:45 PM »


I must say I rather enjoy reading this thread. Obviously there are quite a few people here having fun pulling down the senior management team's pants. This would be an entirely frivolous pursuit, if it were not the case that we are dealing here with a situation in which pretension and conceit refuse to respond to critical questioning and calls for accountability. The latter are instead dismissed as "negativistic", "unwilling to come out of the comfort zone", "bad team players" and similar choice labels borrowed from management textbooks that are merely intended to delegitimise critique rather than respond to it.
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peter_kropotkin
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« Reply #87 on: March 30, 2012, 2:33:17 AM »

There are a lot of complaints here from academics, but nobody has mentioned the students. How has the curriculum reform affected them? Initially based on the Melbourne Model, and then re-branded as UBD's very own innovative Generation Next (in short: GenNext) degree model, it is marketed as "designed to enhance students' knowledge and competency in specific disciplinary areas as well as broad-based knowledge outside their major discipline, providing students with flexibility in choice of careers." (UBD website)

Compared to the previous degrees, the GenNext degrees are reduced in size and diluted in content. Through an act of creative accounting (by increasing the credit value of a 3 contact hours a week course to 4 credits without any increase in credit hours), the total number of courses required to graduate has been reduced by about 25% (from 41 courses to 32 courses).
 
In addition, in their third year (the so-called "Discovery Year") the majority of students do not, as originally planned, study in overseas universities, but go on local work attachments in non-academic environments, such as government departments and private companies, or do community work elsewhere for one semester for which they are given 16 transfer credits (= 4 courses).

Apart from the overall academic requirements, the concentration requirement ("core") for the major has been reduced by 25% to 33% (16-18 out of 32 courses). As for the other half of their courses ("breadth"), students are basically free to chose courses in any discipline based on the assumption that conventional disciplines are outmoded and students should be encouraged to explore across their borders. Since most students do not yet have very focused intellectual interests and clear career goals, they end up with a hotchpotch of unrelated courses often simply chosen because they are easy, fun or a friend is also taking them. This does not add up to a board-based education.

On balance, there has been a one third reduction in contact hours and major content without putting into place any mechanisms (such as rules or an effective advisorial system) to ensure that this will really result in a broadening of the students' intellectual horizons.

Given its small size and limited resources, UBD is not the kind of institution out of which cutting-edge innovations in knowledge production and education delivery are likely to emerge; and Brunei is not a country that can afford to jeopardise the higher education of its future generation by experimenting with its only real university in this kind of ill-thought-out, trial-and-error manner.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2012, 2:35:38 AM by peter_kropotkin » Logged
culture_jammer
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« Reply #88 on: March 30, 2012, 5:04:04 AM »

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Obviously there are quite a few people here having fun pulling down the senior management team's pants. 

Reading the threat reminds me of the fairy tale "The Emperor's New Clothes".

Anybody working in UBD knows who the emperor is and who his tailor is.

But who is the little boy? 
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bangsy
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Posts: 82


« Reply #89 on: March 30, 2012, 5:13:43 AM »

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Reading the threat reminds me of the fairy tale "The Emperor's New Clothes".

Should it be "thread"?  Perhaps a Freudian slip???
« Last Edit: March 30, 2012, 5:15:07 AM by bangsy » Logged
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