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Inspiring Inclusion: Achieving Greater Heights Through Higher Education


Earlier this year, Higher Education Minister Dr Zambry Abd Kadir outlined a 2024 roadmap for the Malaysian higher education system, with ambitions to cultivate future-ready talents and bridge the gap between academia and the workplace, emphasising on five key tenets: talent, innovation, integration, collaboration, and inclusivity.    

In celebration of this International Women's Day (IWD) – themed ‘Inspiring Inclusion’, three academics at the University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNM) share how they are making significant strides in their fields, championing inclusivity through their commitments in the higher education landscape.  

Innovating inclusion through teaching and learning 


At the institutional level, a key challenge to inclusion is how a university incorporates it into their teaching and learning. In her capacity as UNM’s Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, Professor Dr Hazel Melanie Ramos has been leading the charge in implementing and innovating new ways to inspire inclusion for students.   

“We have always adopted an organic yet intentional approach to inclusion, ensuring that it is meaningfully integrated into our curriculum and the subjects we offer. This involves adopting innovative, blended pedagogical approaches and techniques, catering to a broad range of learning styles and needs, ensuring that all voices are heard and valued”, she said.  

“By having a diverse representation across academic and administrative roles, we consistently and consciously work towards inclusive decision-making processes. Ongoing dialogue with students is key to sustaining this, as younger generations can contribute enriching perspectives and opinions of how we can better inspire inclusion. In fact, their suggestions can often be more innovative and out-of-the-box!”  

In addition, she added that a safe and inclusive campus environment is key to provide a conducive and welcoming learning experience for students, guided by strict policies against discrimination and harassment, support services for those in-need, and regular workshops or community engagements to foster a stronger awareness for the importance of inclusivity.  

Full STEAM ahead on inclusion 

Future careers will be highly reliant on a strong skillset of critical thinking, innovativeness, creativity, and research, which are core pillars in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) education. STEAM invites an inclusive approach to learning, encouraging a comprehensive and multidisciplinary education experience, showcasing how the arts complement science, and vice versa.  


In her passion to drive quality higher education, Dr Marina Ng Kher Hui, Associate Professor and Associate Dean of Admissions, Recruitment and Marketing at UNM’s Faculty of Science and Engineering said that, “Inclusion is blended throughout all aspects of STEAM – in the different subjects covered, the diverse and complementary skills learnt, and the broad range of opportunities provided for students as they eventually step foot into the workplace”.  

“To be inclusive is to ensure that all potential pathways for university students are equitably accessible and attainable, and to holistically prepare them to meet future demands. Our role in higher education goes beyond the classroom and into finding new ways to support our students beyond university gates. STEAM education is precisely that catalyst that allows us to break barriers and foster an interdisciplinary, inclusive university environment.”  

Integrating inclusion through industry partnerships 


To address the expectation mismatch between graduates and employers which has been gaining increased societal interest, higher education institutions have a heightened responsibility in adopting inclusivity to prepare talents for tomorrow. At the forefront of driving this, is Professor Dr Joanne Lim Bee Yin and Associate Dean of Admissions, Recruitment and Marketing at UNM’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.  

“Collaborative efforts between ourselves and industry partners are the guiding force behind bridging the academia-workplace divide, and students are increasingly prioritising educational opportunities with career prospect and preparation as part of the learning experience. By forging like-minded partnerships, we can have a direct influence on the inclusivity of opportunities offered for our students.”  

On the future outlook for UNM’s industry collaborations, she commented that, “Beyond a tagline, inspiring inclusion needs to be an ongoing commitment, and we will continue seeking new avenues and platforms for students to thrive and succeed. Our vision for a more inclusive higher education landscape in Malaysia will involve a continuous integration of relevant industry experience as part of a holistic academic journey.”  

Greater heights in higher education 

Inclusivity in higher education is paramount for fostering an environment where every student, regardless of their background, has the opportunity to succeed and thrive. It is not merely about access but ensuring that all students feel valued, supported, and engaged throughout their educational journey, through diverse perspectives in research, learning, and opportunities. Fundamentally, higher education institutions that prioritise inclusivity actively shift the needle in creating a more equitable, innovative, and interconnected world. 

Posted on 20th March 2024

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