From seafarer to college founder

A sailing career motivates Captain Razali to set up Netherlands Maritime University College.

“Education is one of the most powerful weapons which we can use to change the world. It is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom to learn more. Cultivation of the mind is as necessary as food for the body,” said founder and executive chairman of Netherlands Maritime University College (NMUC) Dato’ Captain Razali Yaacob.

Having had the opportunity to experience a sailing career of 11 years and later, the privilege to teach at the Malaysia Maritime Academy for another 11 years had motivated him to believe that imparting knowledge and skills with the right attitude is noble and an obligation. 

“I looked up to teachers as someone who could build leaders that can bring value to their community. If advocated with the right elements, a group of dedicated and competent teachers can revolutionize lives, society and the entire industry,” he told Maritime Fairtrade.

With that in mind, Razali and his team started an academy which offered shipping-related courses in 2000 which grew into a college in 2010. Eight years later, the college expanded into a university college, which saw the inception of NMUC. 

Changing lives through education

NMUC, located in Johor Bahru, is now a powerhouse of knowledge and credentials that could impart education in a pragmatic and systematic manner.

“We have transformed the lives of many and will continue to learn to become better in what we do. We have remodeled organizations to be distinctive and effective,” Razali said.

As of September, NMUC has about 1,500 students in the midst of their courses and it anticipates 500 new students for the January 2022 intake and 1,300 for the May 2022 intake. Foreign students make up about five percent of the total before the COVID-19 pandemic and most of them are from Southeast Asia, India and the Middle East. NMUC has produced approximately 2,000 graduates of which five percent were foreign students. 

Razali said: “Before the COVID-19 pandemic, NMUC graduates are offered jobs in Singapore. I believe the number of offers from across the causeway will increase, considering the vacuum to be filled with their expected growth. 

“The salary packages offered to NMUC graduates are very attractive, mostly three times higher than that offered by Malaysian companies. As most of these Singaporean multinationals are of world class standard, they provide a very good exposure to our graduates with some of the best systems globally.” 

An education syllabus catering to the industry’s needs

NMUC’s maritime educational programs are targeted to produce graduates in specific maritime-related fields, allowing them to contribute directly to the global maritime value chain in supervisory to middle management roles. 

These academic programs are designed by both qualified academicians and industry professionals to provide students with an in-depth knowledge and understanding of maritime transportations, particularly within the context and complexity of the global supply chain environment. 

All NMUC programs are approved and accredited by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) and the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE). Some of the diplomas are also recognized as professional programs by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport Malaysia (CILTM).

According to Razali, NMUC’s academic programs are externally audited and validated by its partner universities and this recognition provides a valuable platform and conduit to pursue higher education abroad. Upon completing a 2.5 to three years’ diploma at NMUC, the students will be granted Advanced Standing status at NMUC ‘s partner universities, enabling them to gain entry into the final year of the bachelor’s degree and graduate within one year.

He said currently, NMUC offers five diploma programs, namely Port Management, Shipping Management, Maritime Transport Management, Maritime Law and Maritime Occupational Safety and Health.  Two bachelor degree programs in Maritime and Logistics, and Maritime Occupational Safety and Health are also being offered at NMUC.

Razali said NMUC is determined to expand its curriculums and has made submissions to the Malaysian Qualifying Agency for a few more Bachelor, Master and PhD programs which it intends to offer in the second quarter of 2022. 

“We are also going to submit the Seagoing Degree program catering for the seafaring cadets. This Seagoing program will also include Standards of Training and Certification for Watchkeeping officer courses for the seafarers.

“Anticipating change and staying relevant is an important guiding principle for NMUC. Hence, it needs to take risks and make decisions that are forward-looking in anticipation of future challenges.” 

Future challenges

According to Razali, going forward, NMUC will improve on its many fronts including its marketing strategies. The Covid-19 pandemic also had stunted its outreach programs for the international markets. “We are expecting and gearing ourselves for a surge of students in the second and third quarter of 2022,” he said.

NMUC’s research has identified key challenges facing the sector, ranging from increasing consumer expectations to workforce attraction and retention. 

“More than ever, higher education institutions must think globally and develop a strong student and wider stakeholder value proposition, which differentiates them from their competition. This will dramatically impact how NMUC will operate into the medium and longer term.

“We now have excellent international partners across the globe which are among the finest in the world. We are inter-dependent with regards to the sharing of knowledge and curriculum.” 

In keeping up with technological developments, Razali said students and lecturers exchange programs will be made more effective and frequent. “We are recruiting additional foreign professors next year to fill the gaps of the increase of new programs with various specializations to be offered. More senior lecturers with PhD qualification are expected to join us early 2022,” he said. 

Razali also said that NMUC works closely with the industry to ensure sufficient versatile ‘market-ready’ students will acquire good and rewarding employment in the country and abroad. 

“They have the opportunities of working onboard ships, offshore facilities, ports and terminals, logistic companies, shipyards, ship owning companies, surveying companies, ship chartering entities, salvage companies, legal firms and insurance companies,” he said.

According to him, NMUC’s efforts will ensure that there will be a continuous supply of the much-needed professionals for Malaysia, at the same time making arrangements for them to acquire international exposure in some of the sectors. 

“Our worldwide network and collaboration facilitate our engagements with some of the biggest companies in the world. Our NMUC vision is to become the top seven maritime universities in Asia by 2030.

“In my earlier venture, I had the opportunity to be guided and was thus able to grow. A greater success now is being able to develop others.” 

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