Newcastle University awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Science to Prof. Dato’ Seri Ir Dr. Zaini Ujang in recognition of his many significant contributions in the development of environmental management and technology at its fifth Congregation ceremony in late October. Prof. Dato’ Seri Ir Dr. Zaini joined more than 100 students from Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia (NUMed), who received their degrees that day.
On receiving his Honorary Doctorate, Prof. Dato’ Seri Ir Dr. Zaini Ujang, who is also a Newcastle University alumnus, declared: “I am very proud to be a recipient of an honorary doctorate from my alma mater, an institution close to my heart.”
Born to a military family, Prof. Dato’ Seri Ir Dr. Zaini had learnt to be independent from a young age while living in a student hostel. He pursued chemical engineering for his undergraduate studies before branching out into environmental engineering for his postgraduate studies, completing his Master of Science (Environmental Engineering) at Newcastle University where he won an award for the best project in his MSc dissertation. He continued on at the university for his PhD, which he completed in less than three years.
Prof. Dato’ Seri Ir Dr. Zaini’s scholastic achievement and thought leadership in water matters were soon recognised locally and internationally. He received several accolades for his outstanding scientific research, including the Malaysia Water Award 2004 (Research), the Outstanding Young Malaysian Award (Academic Leadership) in 2004 and the Gold Medal from the Institusi Pengajian Tinggi Am (IPTA) Expo on Research & Development in 2005.
“I am delighted to accept this honour,” Prof. Dato’ Seri Ir Dr. Zaini said of his Honorary Doctorate. “Newcastle University offers flexible and efficient learning pathways that enable people to not only enrich themselves but also to serve society,” he added.
Prof. Dato’ Seri Ir Dr. Zaini has been leading the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water, Malaysia, as the Secretary General since 2016. In his academic career, he has written more than 250 scientific papers published in leading academic journals and proceedings; 35 books on environmental engineering, water sustainability, higher education and learning innovation; and more than 1,000 articles for mainstream media since 1988.
Prof. Chris Day, Vice Chancellor and President of Newcastle University, who presented Prof. Dato’ Seri Ir Dr. Zaini with the honorary doctorate, expressed his admiration for the accomplished man. “He is a true leader who has attained exceptional achievements in the field of environmental sustainability and I am thrilled that Newcastle University is able to honour him today.
“Prof. Dato’ Seri Ir Dr. Zaini has always been a prominent supporter of Newcastle University in the UK and in Malaysia. His dedication to improving environmental sustainability and technology in the country is only matched by his unwavering compassion and desire to serve the community and strive for environmental justice.
“We are privileged to recognise his enduring impact with this Honorary Doctorate,” he said.
The ceremony also celebrated the graduation of 126 students from NUMed’s Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), BSc (Honours) Biomedical Sciences, Master of Research, and Postgraduate Certificate in Medical Education programmes.
Established in 2009, NUMed is the first fully owned international branch campus in Malaysia that offers undergraduate degrees in Medicine and Biomedical Sciences as well as opportunities for postgraduate studies from a UK university. NUMed draws on the legacy of Newcastle University, UK, that can trace its roots back to the early 19th century.
The university is internationally renowned for being one the best British universities for medicine, offering world-class medical education to students from more than 120 countries. Currently, it is placed fifth in the UK by The Guardian University Guide 2019 and in the top 125 (Clinical, Pre-clinical and Health category) by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings by Subject 2018, among others. It also received a 95% Overall Student Satisfaction Score according to the National Student Survey 2017 (subjects allied to medical category).