Attracting elite learning institutions

Discovery Reports - Malaysian Education

Elaine Deng

The education NKEA has made commendable progress during its first year of implementation, setting the stage for educational reform and laying the foundation for supporting new business opportunities. The latest achievements - the establishment of AWLU, a higher education institution for women, and Heriot-Watt University - reinforce Malaysia's vigilance in raising its educational standards to safeguard the stable economic future of the country.

Malaysia has been chosen as the preferred host country for the AWLU Project in Asia. The strategic location of Malaysia in the region makes it an ideal location to attract a diversified student body.

AWLU is a non-profit organisation dedicated to empowering women and helping them maximise their leadership potential. Smith College is the chief academic planning partner for the AWLU Project. AWLU will enrich the multi-cultural flavour of Malaysia's educational landscape as an international faculty will be teaching in the campus.

Slated to open in September 2015, AWLU combines American-style liberal arts and sciences education with leadership courses. AWLU will adapt a curriculum that is relevant to Asia and the Middle East. The curriculum will also emphasise topics such as leadership, problem-solving, critical inquiry and interdisciplinary learning.

The AWLU Project supports Malaysia's envisioned workforce transformation, with women expected to have increased participation in public and private sectors.

AWLU's Malaysia presence, among many other tertiary education institutions, testifies to the viability of Malaysia as home to international educational institutions. Another school establishing its branch campus in Malaysia is Britain-based Heriot-Watt University (HWU).

After the successful establishment of its first campus in Dubai, HWU chose Malaysia as the location of its second branch campus.

"Malaysia highlights education as one of the key drivers for transformation. Heriot-Watt's new campus will enable prospective students to take advantage of top-level Britain degrees in Malaysia and similarly open up opportunities for students in Scotland and Dubai to study overseas. This will promote a global education culture amongst Heriot-Watt students," says Professor Bob Craik, vice-principal of HWU, new CEO and provost of the Heriot-Watt Malaysia campus.

Opening in 2014, the campus will serve as a centre of excellence for teaching and research within Putrajaya. HWU is ranked among the top 20 universities in Britain in The Guardian's 2012 University Guide. It is also among the top 5 per cent of universities globally. HWU's long and rich tradition of educating and inspiring students dates back to 1821.

While construction is in full swing, Heriot-Watt is seeking programme accreditation from the Malaysian Qualification Agency and other professional accreditation boards.

HWU's strengths in the fields of science, petroleum engineering, built environment technology, business, textiles and design will equip students with the right tools to contribute to the growth of various NKEAs.

"The portfolio of programmes in Heriot-Watt Malaysia is consistent with the government's plan for economic development," Craik says. "Students graduating from the University stand better employment chances in the country."

"Access to quality British education and industry-led research opportunities make studying at Heriot-Watt a lucrative education option for students in Malaysia, Greater China and other Southeast Asian countries."