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.