Tan Sri Arshad Ayub, 87, the first director of Institut Teknologi Mara (ITM), did not hold back and spoke his mind on the mentality of Malay students, the standard of English, the current crop of educators in the country and how the institution has evolved into a university, now known as Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM).

Q: What was your background before you became a director and did it help influence your administration?

A: In 1958, I was RIDA's (Rural and Industrial Development Authority) assistant economist. Then, I became a diplomatic officer and I was later transferred to Penang as the state economic officer.

This is an important experience which I drew upon when I later administered ITM. I learned International trade. I mixed with economic officers and state secretaries and built contacts and relationships.

I was later transferred for two years to Industrial Development of Malaysia. I promoted industries. This is the kind of experience I brought to ITM as a director.

I was also sent to a Nestle institute in Switzerland called IMEDA for 10 months to study business course there in 1965.

When I returned, in 1965, I was identified to lead ITM as the principal Rida’s Training Centre which was what ITM was known as then.

I worked for 10 years until 1975. I do not mean to boast but there was no instruction from the prime minister.

It was up to myself. Using the experience I gleaned over the years, I noticed that there was no specialisation.

There was no focus because the intention was never for the industry but to become government servants but that was not good enough. That was why one of the first things I did was to introduce the Plantation Industry Management Diploma and worked with the estates.

I did not have any Science background when I enrolled at an agriculture college in Serdang. How to learn botany, zoology, physics, chemistry? What did I do? I assigned four senior students to teach me.

That was why when I became the director of ITM, students who were weak in Science and did not pass the subject in their Higher School Certificate or students from Art stream who wanted to switch to Science stream, a special teacher was assigned to look after them.

This means, if we have the interest and a very good guidance from the teachers, we can do it.

If we can memorise the Quran, why can't we learn Science at least for the purpose of examination.

This is the question when we talk about Bumiputera students. For me Bumiputera can do it (excel in Science stream) and what remains is how we educate and influence them. This is where the role of teachers become crucial.

INTEC Education College’s mission is to increase the number of bumiputra accountants in the country.

The private college, which is wholly owned by Universiti Teknologi Mara recently launched the Professional Accountancy Centre (Ipac Education).

Ipac Education will cater specifically to bumiputra students. It will offer courses such as Professional Accounting Programmes, the Malaysia Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, CPA Australia, Certified Accounting Technician and Certificate in Business Accounting. Previously, all accountancy programmes in Intec were carried out under the university’s Department of Professional Accountancy Studies in the Faculty of Accountancy.

UiTM vice-chancellor Prof Tan Sri Dr Sahol Hamid Abu Bakar said the change in administration is in line with the government’s Economic Transformation Plan, which seeks to produce over 60,000 bumiputra accountants by the year 2020.

He said the target could be met with the expertise and experience of Intec’s academics combined with strong support from their strategic partners from the industry.

Second Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, who was at the launch, said the government encouraged students to take this opportunity and explore a career in accountancy.

“There is a demand for professional accountants,” he said.