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USM PENANG, 25 March 2024 - The Commonwealth Academic Forum 2024 was held online today, via Cisco Webex, to look at the issues on the growing importance of women taking leading roles in different areas, especially in higher education, where they are reshaping paradigms and propelling transformative change.


The forum was jointly organised by the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Facility (CTEF) and Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), National Higher Education Research Institute (IPPTN), and the Malaysian Society for Higher Education Policy and Research Development (PenDaPat).

Focusing on the issue of "Shattering Expectations: Women Leadership in Higher Education", the forum addressed a critical juncture, encapsulating the transformative journey of women who are breaking barriers, defying stereotypes, and assuming leadership roles within the academia.

It is crucial to recognise the interrelation of the dialogue with global initiatives aimed at fostering gender equality and promoting quality education.

According to USM Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic and International, Professor Dato’ Gs. Dr. Narimah Samat, in her opening speech, she underscored the profound significance of women's leadership in driving progress towards fulfilling Sustainable Development Goal 5, on Gender Equality.


“We recognise the pivotal role of women's leadership in driving progress towards this goal, fostering inclusivity, and ensuring equal opportunities for all,” she said.

Narimah further emphasised the pivotal role of women's leadership in higher education as a catalyst for achieving Sustainable Development Goal 4, relating to Quality Education.

Recognising the transformative power of education in empowering individuals and communities, she stressed the importance of nurturing talent, fostering creativity, and promoting lifelong learning through inclusive and equitable education systems.

“As we navigate this discourse, we must also confront the challenges that persist. It is incumbent upon us to address these challenges collectively, through collaborative efforts and targeted initiatives that create a conducive environment for women to thrive and succeed,” she added.

The speakers who presented relating to the overall theme of the forum were the Executive Director, Centre for Academic Partnerships and Engagement (CAPE), University of Nottingham Malaysia, Associate Professor Dr. Rozilini Mary Fernandez-Chung, PFHEA; and the Vice-Chancellor, SABS University of Art, Design and Heritages Jamshoro, Pakistan, Professor Dr. Arabella Bhutto, moderated by the Programme Director of Taylor’s University Malaysia and also Deputy Secretary of PenDaPat, Marzura Abdul Malek.


The Undersecretary, International Relations Division, MOHE, Datin Noorazah Omar then delivered the closing remarks at the end of the programme, in which she highlighted the significant role of women in Malaysia’s higher education sector.

Noorazah urged for the continuation of efforts to foster diversity, inclusion, and excellence in higher education, emphasising that women's leadership is key to achieving a brighter, more equal future.


“Let us continue this momentum and commitment towards fostering a culture of diversity, inclusion, and excellence in higher education, where women's leadership not only shatters expectations but also paves the way for a brighter and more equal future for all,” she said.

The CTEF acts as a network for Commonwealth countries, facilitating the development of tertiary education by sharing knowledge and best practices.

Also present at the virtual forum were the Programme Director, Sri Jeyanthirar Subramaniam and IPPTN Director, Ts. Dr. Rohayati Mohd Isa.

Text: Nur Farrah Ezlin Mohd Suhaimi/Photo: Commonwealth Tertiary Education Facility (CTEF)


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