The emergence of Islamic banking and finance requires qualified human capital to sustain the system. Therefore, today we see a growing number of institutions offering Islamic finance programs all over the world. Hence, it is crucial to assess the quality of these programs as well as the quality and competency level of graduates. To address these issues, the International Council of Islamic Finance Educators conducted a forum where leading experts in Islamic finance education shared their thoughts.
According to Prof Dr Azmi Omar, the president and CEO of INCEIF and the former director-general of the Islamic Research and Training Institute, many newcomers currently challenge the business of finance. If we look into the future, we may not need a bank but we still need a financial intermediation function. For example, Alibaba is not a bank, but it is managing billions of dollars every day. Therefore, should we regard ourselves as Islamic finance for the financial industry or should we be looking at the broader picture? This is what it means by answering: “What Islamic finance is all about and what it is not.”
As educators who are looking forward to the future, do we produce the graduates to meet today’s needs or 10 years down the road? Of course, we know that education is a dynamic system. For example in the Malaysian context, the evaluation process for a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree is done every four and two years respectively. However, from 2000 onward, the rapid upgrade in technology has outdated the quality of graduates. At the end of the day, we need graduates to contribute to the development of the country because the cost of unemployed graduates is very high, in which when we say unemployed graduates we are not talking about becoming employees but employers as well.
Unfortunately, quality assurance agencies are always far behind because they measure and evaluate based on the past and outdated cases. The process of quality assurance is taking the time to understand what we need and set regulations for different levels that can be applied on the spot. As we look at technology advances, are we still considering the traditional thought in finance or finance as financial intermediation?
The challenge of quality assurance education and curriculum development for Islamic finance is to define the scope of Islamic finance and what kind of knowledge we should put in. From there, we can correctly look to the accreditation and quality assurance of the programs.
Dr Kamola Bayram is the project director at the International Council of Islamic Finance Educators. She can be contacted at [email protected]