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New university's ideals
The new Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali that will have its first intake in August this year will absorb students from the Sultan Hj Omar Ali Saifuddien Islamic Education Institute (IPI SHOAS) currently studying in Universiti Brunei Darussalam.

Deputy Minister of Education, Pg Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohammad, in his capacity as the chair of the steering committee for the establishment of the new university, told the Bulletin in an interview yesterday.

He said all programmes available at IPI SHOAS would become the basis of the new university. All students and lecturers will move to the new university. The entry requirement will be as currently stipulated for entry to the IPI SHOAS. In addition, they will also be required to undergo three-month expertise courses in English and Arabic.

Pg Dr Hj Mohammad said a permanent campus would be located in the Brunei-Muara District where two sites have been identified. "It will be ready in three years from now. The temporary campus will be at IPI SHOAS where another building will be built next to the present one to be used for three years or more."

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam in his New Year 2007 titah named the second Brunei university as Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali. Sultan Sharif Ali was the first sultan to embrace Islam and the first to build a mosque in Brunei.

Asked about the programmes that will be offered at the new university, he said the current students would get their scrolls from UBD.

"The three current departments at IPI SHOAS will be upgraded into three faculties namely Usuluddin, Syariah and Civil Law as well as Arabic and Civilisation faculty.

"In addition, there will a centre to channel knowledge and language which teaches subjects like language skills, 'Ahli Sunnah Wal Jemaah' and Shafie Sect understandings, MIB and religious practical course," he said.

Asked on the enrolment of foreign students, he said, "We cannot guarantee any foreign students for the first intake as there is very little time. There could be foreign student intakes in the future from Commonwealth, Asean or other countries," he added.

Pg Dr Hj Mohammad said part of the preparations are to form a committee for the 'university concept' chaired by the former Minister of Education and the current Minister of Communications, Pehin Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Abu Bakar.

A steering committee has also been established and chaired by him. The committees comprise of government ministries and departments.

Before the setting up the second university, the committees visited several universities in Malaysia such as Universiti Islam Antarabangsa (UIA), Universiti Islam and Kolej Universiti Islam. They also visited University Al-Azhar in Egypt, and universities in Jordan and Qatar.

In the coming months, they will visit universities that have Islamic education in Europe, Canada and the United States.

Based on the visits, the committee has come up with a paperwork entitled "Islamic University Establishment" which highlights the mission, vision, motto and objective which will shape the future direction of the new university.

Two well-known professors, Prof Tan Sri Kamal Hassan, formerly with UIA, and Prof Dato Dr. Abdul Munir Yaakub were invited to take a look at the paper and both have supported it.

The vision of the new university is to become a genuine Islamic University recognised internationally based on Quran and Al-Sunnah. The university will provide research programmes and will have hi-tech means to produce pious, credible graduates that contribute to nation building.

The university aspires to set up a centre of excellence to fulfil and uphold the country's needs that upholds Islam as outlined in the constitution based on Ahli Sunnah Wal-Jemaah to strengthen the religious assimilation.

The objectives are to provide tertiary Islamic programmes in the first degree, post graduate and PhD programmes to produce credible religious scholars and academicians with a national identity, to enhance teaching expertise and effective learning and to benefit Brunei and regional countries. The aim is to become a centre to spread Islam in this region, and to enrich knowledge based on the religion.

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