21st Century Undergraduates: Facing Challenges and the Current Reality

Undergraduates are the generation hoped to inherit the country’s leadership in the future. Undergraduates are considered to be those who are knowledgeable and suitable in facing current trials and tribulations. The 21st century needs undergraduates who are excellent in all aspects including academic and self-personality. Hedonism, identity crisis and clashes of thoughts are the challenges and current problems that needed to be faced by undergraduates of the 21st century. As such, preparation from the view point of academic excellence only is insufficient to give birth to quality and international undergraduates.

Idealism, activism, and intellectualism are the major key factors for undergraduates in realizing the government’s intention to give birth to first class graduates. These three elements are the pre-conditions to form 21st century undergraduates who are full of self-personality and importance to the country and society. In this modern era, intellectualism and the appreciation process of knowledge through idealism should be expanded in activities that can stimulate analytical and critical thinking to make way for new ideas which are more practical for the self and society’s betterment. Strength in thinking and intellect may be able to ward off attacks of thinking that can destroy the society.

In line with the government’s intention as lined in the core strategies of the 10th Malaysia Plan which is to grow and maintain a world class human capital, I view that the undergraduates are the main targets to achieve and realize this strategy. In this context, I am in the opinion that undergraduates should view this matter in a wider context, inclusive of all aspects in their lives during campus life. Undergraduates’ involvement in clubs, societies, and NGO’s is important to ensure undergraduates who are more open, active and competitive. Focus in academic learning per se will give birth to passive, rigid, fatigue-ridden and uncompetitive undergraduates. This matter should be manipulated as best as possible because campus life is the training ground useful in preparing undergraduates to face real challenges and to live in a community.

Other than that, I hope that the undergraduates of the 21st century are the undergraduates having the nature and mentality as a thinker for religious, country, race and ummah problems. If the history of movements and power of undergraduates in India and Indonesia were to be highlighted, it is seen how they were one of the factors contributing towards the development in their countries. As such, I view that the power in the undergraduates is actually big and can be maximized for the interest of religion, country and race.

Nevertheless, if viewed from the reality of undergraduates in Malaysia, I am a bit aggrieved and disappointed when undergraduates which are those that are being said as the intellects, involved in crimes and social problems. The involvement of undergraduates in crime and social problem is always being reported by the media. Every day this problem increases and I think that this situation is worrisome and a loss to the country. It is to be remembered that in passionately pursuing the mission to make universities and undergraduates of Malaysia as world class, we should not disregard these kinds of problems. There is no use in only being excellent academically but failing in other aspects. As such, a balance in all aspects is very much needed.

As undergraduates, I want to invite all undergraduates in Malaysia to be big hearted in facing challenges and the current reality. I think that it is time undergraduates should have idealism, and be brave and mature in all matters for creating and maintaining a world-class human capital because undergraduates are the agents to change religion, race and country’s future.

Muhammad Firwan Norliza
Students’ Representative Council 2009/2010
International Islamic University Malaysia


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