Distribution of Islamic finance educators in Malaysian universities: Is there a perfect blend?

The current state of Malaysia’s Islamic finance talent (educators who are involved as teachers and researchers in the various domains under Islamic finance education) in universities sees more Shariah and law experts. At least 30.1% (see Table 1) of instructors belong to this domain. The Islamic banking and finance subject has fewer experts standing at 27.9%. Even this may be understated as quite a few experts who claim to have Islamic banking and finance credentials in actual fact have undergraduate and graduate degrees in Shariah.

Other domains such as economics, management and accounting are much smaller. A possible implication of this type of talent distribution is that the degree programs are more legalistic in nature such as teaching more Shariah and law than finance. This may be acceptable if the programs are meant to have a specialization in Shariah and law or if the programs are offered in Shariah/law faculties.

Table 1: Distribution of Islamic finance educators by institution and domain
Islamic banking & finance Shariah & law Islamic economics Islamic accounting Islamic management Total %
IIUM 10 32 12 8 10 72 17.9
UiTM 0 7 3 0 2 12 3
UKM 4 13 8 1 0 26 6.5
INCEIF 9 7 9 2 0 27 6.7
UUM 18 22 8 7 14 69 17.1
USIM 8 7 6 11 6 38 9.5
UPM 4 1 0 0 1 6 1.5
UM 15 9 3 2 6 35 8.7
USM 3 0 4 1 8 16 4
UniSZA 9 14 1 1 0 25 6.2
UNIMAS 3 0 3 0 0 6 1.5
INSANIA 5 3 3 5 9 25 6.2
KUIS 9 0 0 1 0 10 2.5
UNIMAP 2 0 0 0 0 2 0.5
UMK 6 3 1 5 2 17 4.2
UMP 0 1 0 0 2 3 0.8
UMT 1 0 1 0 0 2 0.5
UTM 1 0 2 0 1 4 1
UMS 5 2 0 0 0 7 1.7
Total 112 121 64 44 61 402 100
Source: Author’s own

However, the majority of Islamic finance programs are focusing on banking and finance. Naturally, one would expect the curriculum to reflect more emphasis on banking and finance, economics, management and accounting and hence, a bigger number of educators who are qualified with banking and finance qualifications, but from Islamic perspectives. From Table 1, this is not the state of affairs as most academics in banking, finance, economics, management and accounting come from conventional backgrounds, with varying degrees of exposure to the Islamic heritage.

In some institutions, there are no experts in certain domains. This begs the question: who teaches their students the subjects in those domains? Could there be a danger of producing graduates with less than the minimum requirements? More often than not, those who have no qualifications and/or exposure to Islamic perspectives of economics, finance, management or accounting are asked to teach these courses using materials that have been prepared by their colleagues. Hence, educators become mere conveyors of others’ knowledge and facilitators of knowledge rather than being genuinely qualified as Islamic finance educators. This fact supports the statement that the demand for Islamic finance graduates clearly outweighs the supply leading to a high demand of Islamic finance educators that cannot be met currently with the talent available. Both short-term and long-term solutions to this gap need to be found.

Dr Kamola Bayram is an assistant professor at KTO Karatay University, Turkey as well as a project consultant and advisor for project management at the International Council of Islamic Finance Educators. She can be contacted at [email protected]