Established in 1920, the University of Yangon has an illustrious yet tumultuous history. Once among the largest universities in Southeast Asia and recognized as a premier institution of higher learning, it has endured decades of rigid external control, isolation and lack of resources. Today the legacy of limited capacity and freedom continues to hamper the University’s ability to contribute to meeting the needs of Myanmar’s society and the on-going economic, political and social transformations in the country. Despite this, UY remains the focus of aspirations of many young people in Myanmar for a dignified future, successful career and opportunities for personal growth. The University of Yangon is now ready to claim once again a prominent role in nurturing new generations of creative, qualified and responsible citizens and professionals: to deliver relevant education and research that serve the needs of national renewal and become a model of effective governance and planning in higher education. Approaching its Centennial, the University is poised to re-establish itself as Myanmar’s Flagship University and a leader in higher education in the region, utilizing the resources at home and connecting efficiently with dedicated global partners.
Since the onset of political change in Myanmar in 2011, the University of Yangon has been at the centre of revitalization efforts in higher education in the country. In order to shape and implement a programme of ambitious and sustainable transformation, the University initiated a process of developing a Master Plan for its Revitalization in 2017, with full support from the new democratic Government of Myanmar.
Guided by the University of Yangon Revitalization Committee, and with contributions from committed domestic and international partners, the development of the Master Plan focused on analysing and rethinking the University’s vision, mission, foundational principles, system of governance, academic and administrative structures in order to improve its capacity for teaching, learning, research, institutional management and quality in all areas of its operations. The new vision, character and shape of the University of Yangon – developed collectively by its stakeholders – involves the introduction of autonomy as a major efficiency tool, in line with the provisions of the National Education Strategic Plan. For UY’s autonomy to take root, existing structures and policies need to be revised and new ones adopted that stimulate innovation and accountability at all levels to pave the way for effective and sustainable development and impact.
The Plan is feasible; it is supported by realistically timed implementation and capacity building programmes. The Master Plan lays out a development vision for the period until 2030 with a subset of urgent priorities and improvements to be delivered by the University of Yangon’s centennial in 2020. (Centennial Milestones).
The Master Plan contains two self-standing but fully integrated components – the program of institutional transformation (Software Master Plan) and the physical revitalization of campus and infrastructure (Hardware Master Plan). Central European University (Budapest, Hungary) provided expertise, research and resources towards the design of the Software Master Plan; the Hardware Master Plan was designed by Kilburn Nightingale Architects (London, UK) and Myanmar associates. Irrawaddy Policy Exchange (Myanmar) contributed to both sections of the Master Plan.
The Master Plan represents a collective expression of ambitions and commitments of the University of Yangon community, supported by dedicated partners, regarding its revitalization in the following ways:
- Myanmar Flagship University: Vision, Mission and Foundational Principles: UY is set to modernize and expand its vision and mission, and bring up to date its foundational principles which will orient all its activities and future development. The University will develop as an autonomous Flagship University in the arts, sciences, and technology, with the long-term goal of becoming a more comprehensive institution with a strong internal capacity to deliver advanced teaching, learning, research and service to the nation. The University will promote effective intellectual, programmatic and organizational linkages with other universities in Yangon and Myanmar, and active international partnerships.
- Efficient University Governance and Organization: UY strives to emerge as the first autonomous university in Myanmar. As part of the implementation of the Master Plan, it will progressively develop and put in practice a system of governance supported by solid structures and professional capacity in the areas of academic affairs, organization, staffing and financial administration. Autonomous operations are governed by the goals of quality, integrity, responsibility, relevance and efficiency. UY will serve as a model for other universities in Myanmar to emulate in progressively developing institutional autonomy and efficient governance and organization.
- Attracting the Best Talent and Building a Vibrant Student Body: In keeping with its history and renewed mission, UY will once again become a place where outstanding talent is attracted and cultivated, and where gifted and ambitious learners from all walks of life, representing the rich diversity of the country, are supported to achieve their full potential to become inspiring, efficient and responsible professionals and leaders of their communities and of the nation, and proudly and competently represent Myanmar in the global community.
- Excellence and Relevance in Curriculum, Teaching and Learning: Responding to the needs of modern society, the advancement of knowledge and the goals of national development, UY sets out to revamp its programs of study, continuously revise and modernize the curricula and transform the pedagogy to achieve excellence and relevance in teaching, learning and development of skills, competences and values that are relevant to students as professionals, citizens and leaders, and build the foundations for life-long learning.
- Excellence and Relevance in Research: UY strives to become a university that successfully combines its teaching and learning and research missions, with research as an integral and significant part of its academic activities. The University shall stimulate and support innovative, cross-disciplinary research initiatives and projects – including from an applied perspective – and facilitate active engagement of students and academic staff with international peers, leading scholars and centers of knowledge to be able to embrace the needs of the Knowledge Age realistically and contribute effectively to the fulfillment of national development goals.
- Academic Infrastructure and Technology in Support of Education and Research: UY strives to ensure up-to-date academic technology support for its members. It shall provide its students and academics with regular, user-friendly and secure access to information and communication technologies, research instruments and on-line resources and tools necessary for high quality teaching, learning, research and collaboration within and outside the university campus and internationally.
- Revitalization of Campus and Services: UY embarks on an ambitious and carefully designed program of integrated campus redevelopment which will make the best use of the existing land and facilities, preserve and revitalize its iconic buildings and bring new, efficient and environmentally conscious developments that will meet the needs of teaching, learning and research in the modern age. Creating an inclusive physical environment that stimulates innovative teaching and collaborative learning will be a top priority in the campus revitalization. The upgraded campus facilities will provide an efficient home for university growth, a safe, welcoming and vibrant environment for academic, professional and personal development of its members, and inspire and facilitate closer interaction with the community.
- Internal Institutional Strategic Planning and External Partnerships: As it develops progressively as an autonomous university and embraces greater responsibility for its revitalization and development, UY shall lay the foundations of professional strategic planning of its academic, institutional and physical growth, inclusive of all stakeholders, on a sustained basis and in cooperation with the most relevant and committed partners within Myanmar and internationally. UY shall use this Master Plan as a stepping stone towards building an efficient and transparent internal planning process for defining and achieving its long-term goals and ambitions. Like all efficient universities in the world, the University of Yangon commits to running its operations based on clear internal strategic planning, while also cultivating beneficial external partnerships.
- Active Public Presence and Visibility Locally and Internationally: Rebuilding Myanmar’s Flagship University and reclaiming its status of a leading university in the nation and in the region, and striving for excellence and recognition in the international academia, UY is actively strengthening its visibility and proactive presence domestically and globally. Over the coming years, the University shall invest its resources and efforts in developing and implementing comprehensive strategies for engagement with a wide array of relevant domestic and international partners that will systematically reflect and enhance its core academic priorities, and help transform UY into a university firmly embedded in the community and with a distinct international character.
In addition to providing a broad vision for transforming the University of Yangon into a Flagship University by 2030, the Master Plan further focuses on four priority areas of implementation and objectives to be achieved by 2020 formulated as Centennial Milestones:
I. Improvement of Teaching, Learning and Research
Significantly improve the range, relevance and quality of programs of study at all levels to make them relevant for the national development agenda and graduate employability; transformation of the pedagogy towards student-centered learning; developing a culture of impactful research, which should be rigorous, independent and relevant/applicable, through collaboration with domestic and international partners.
II. Enhancement of English
Enhance the use of English as a medium of instruction and research; improve academic staff’s English language capacity in research and presentation skills, concurrently with the development of modern teaching methods and resources.
III. Modernization of ICTs
Upgrade the ICT infrastructure to the level of the 21st century, to support the use of contemporary technology in teaching and learning, research, and administration.
IV. Campus and Facilities Upgrade and Improving Student Experience on Campus
Develop and launch a comprehensive campus redevelopment program focused on the needs of transforming pedagogy and research, facilitating collaboration, university growth, and active interaction with the community. Oversee a significant upgrade of the infrastructure and facilities on the core UY plot to create a more functional, vibrant, comfortable and safe campus as a place for learning, collaboration, personal growth and everyday life of the UY students and staff and prepare to welcome the wider community on the revitalized UY Campus in time for its centennial celebrations in 2020.
Through the Master Plan, the University of Yangon wishes to articulate in practical terms its commitment to achieve significant strategic transformations in the following five areas, with the support of the national authorities and partners:
- Advancement of university autonomy
- Creation of institutional frameworks for enhanced quality and efficiency
- Implementation of modern and student-centered strategies and approaches to teaching and learning
- Enhancement of research and service to the community
- Physical revitalization and technological upgrading of the UY campuses to sustain institutional revitalization and growth and support vibrant campus life
The ambitions laid out by the Master Plan will be supported by specific structural innovations and improvements that cut across multiple areas of transformation and will be the focus of the initial implementation steps in 2018-2020. These implementation milestones include:
- Drafting and adoption of the University of Yangon Charter;
- Creation of a transparent and functional system of governance; establishing a University Council as a main body of autonomous university governance that is inclusive of all key university stakeholders;
- Development of a robust and efficient administrative structure, institutional policies and enhanced capacity to support the gradual introduction of autonomy;
- Enhancement of the autonomous university management by creating a position of a Pro-Rector for Institutional Development;
- Development of internal strategic planning and multi-year budget planning that will support long-term sustainable development efforts;
- Designation of a Development Team with fundraising functions within the Office of Public Relations, Development and Outreach that will play a key role in developing effective partnerships and attracting external support for the implementation of the Master Plan;
- Design and implementation of the institutional quality frameworks and establishment of an Office of Quality Assurance; advancement of quality culture at all levels across the university;
- Active involvement of UY students in the university governance and quality assurance and ensuring formal student representation on the university- and faculty-level governance and management bodies;
- Introduction of UY’s admission policies and procedures and planning for an expansion of the student body, including a framework for diversification and attracting students from disadvantaged social and economic backgrounds and areas of the country;
- Introduction of the Faculty system that will consolidate the resources of the academic Departments, and allow to develop shared curriculum and enhance relevance of educational programs by introducing interdisciplinary approaches;
- Revision and restructuring of the curricula with focus on moving progressively towards a more comprehensive and career-oriented vision and practice of a university-wide curriculum focusing on relevance to Myanmar’s development goals, graduate employability, strengths of the UY-based academics and scholars and expectations of students; establishing Department- and Faculty-level Curriculum Committees;
- Establishment of new programs of study and research units that will address the needs of capacity development for the country’s reform agenda in the most pressing areas of need, including Governance, Public Policy and Public Administration; Environmental and Water Studies; Myanmar Nationalities Studies;
- Initiating a comprehensive development project of establishment of the UY Faculty (School) of Law as a premier institution of legal education that will serve the needs of upgrading the legal profession, enhancing the quality of legislative initiatives and legal services, promoting Rule of Law and legal empowerment in democratic Myanmar;
- Upgrade of the academic staff and introduction of merit-based mechanisms of recruitment and promotion; engagement of practitioners and outstanding academics from the diaspora as adjunct and visiting faculty;
- Design and implementation of structures and support mechanisms that warrant a systematic and rapid improvement in the quality of English as a medium of teaching, learning and research; strengthen the National Center for English Language (NCEL) as a unit that has a significantly improved capacity, curriculum and training resources to serve the needs of expanded use of English as a medium of instruction and interactive pedagogy;
- Establishment of new and strengthening the existing academic support units and training programs to serve the needs of development of foundational academic skills of students and pedagogical and research skills of faculty; establishment of the Center for Learning and Teaching;
- Definition of institutional research priorities and formation of interdisciplinary research teams, enhancement of research skills and expansion of opportunities and regular venues for scholarly inquiry and debate; definition of research as an integral component of academic positions and work load; establishment of the Science and Technology Division (Center) and Social Sciences and Humanities Division (Center) under the Centers for University Research;
- Active promotion of staff mobility and participation in internationally-supported capacity development activities, research and teaching partnerships that support the needs of the revitalization process; establishment of the International Cooperation Office;
- Review, consolidation and expansion of programs of life-long learning through the enhanced Center for Human Resources Development and Life-Long Learning, targeting subjects and categories of learners of greatest potential impact towards the priorities of national development;
- Active engagement with the UY alumni in the process of revitalization, development and promotion of UY, formation of the UY Alumni Association;
- Campus upgrades to improve student experience and open up to the community; prioritize the improvement of health, safety and quality of student learning and overall experience on campus;
- Provision of adequate Internet access across all academic and residential spaces and prioritize active utilization of modern technologies and on -line resources in curriculum, teaching and learning and research; establish the professional and well-resourced Center for Information and Communications Technologies;
- Upgrade of the facilities, technologies and staff capacities in the UY Libraries to transform them into 21st century student-oriented learning hubs; development of an effective and well-resourced program of digitization and preservation of cultural heritage resources at UY.
These structural actions will be complemented by the development of sound internal policies, procedures and guidelines in various areas of university governance and administration, quality assurance, educational planning, teaching, learning and research, student services, campus design and development and other areas of university’s autonomous governance, management, planning, delivery and self-improvement. This work will orient the University of Yangon towards the most relevant and efficient modern international practices and give due account to the background, current conditions and priorities of higher education development in Myanmar as laid out in the National Education Strategic Plan.
To ensure the progress of implementation in all priority areas and delivering significant results by 2020, a robust capacity building program will be developed and implemented as a matter of urgency, with support from relevant partners, addressing two key functional areas:
- Academic Performance: faculty development (student-centered pedagogy, curriculum development and research) and enhancement of English for academic purposes of both faculty and students;
- Governance and Administration: policy development and implementation, strategic planning, management and leadership, communication for the relevant university staff.
The changes in the university structure, governance and programs, its opening up to the community and vibrant campus life need to be fully supported by robust and responsible physical revitalization, planning and expansion of the UY campuses. At the initial stage, the infrastructural investment will focus on improving health, safety and security of the campuses and the upgrades of its academic facilities to support the shifts in teaching, learning and research.
The implementation of the Hardware Master Plan will be based on the following key principles:
- The university environment will be intellectually inspiring, academically challenging and stimulating, welcoming, supportive and conducive to personal growth;
- The physical features of the campus will support the ambition of the university to be an autonomous world-class university;
- Academic and residential facilities will be arranged on Kamayut and Hlaing campuses to best suit the efficient functioning of the University;
- The architectural and social heritage of this important historic establishment will be conserved and protected;
- The green landscape setting will be carefully maintained and enhanced;
- A new University Centre (including Library and Canteen) will be a heart for the university community with facilities available for all students and staff;
- The campus will provide good buildings which are comfortable, efficient and adaptable to new ways of teaching;
- The reconstruction, design and construction of new buildings will ensure they are seismically resilient and environmentally sustainable.
The University of Yangon Revitalization Committee will oversee the implementation of the Master Plan with the full support and dedication of the UY leadership, staff and community, and of the Government of Myanmar. It will do so in close collaboration with UY’s dedicated international partners, many of which have contributed to the ambitious process of planning and the on-going work on the revitalization and transformation of the University of Yangon into a Flagship University of Myanmar and a globally engaged institution of higher education in South-East Asia.