Friday, 27 February 2015


Choosing where in the world to study is becoming more and more of a problem for aspiring university students. If anything, the sheer amount of choice available makes things even harder. The vast majority of KYUEM students wish to take up an undergraduate course in the UK although we have a significant minority who wish to go to the US. A small number also apply to Australia, even though the difference in the start of their academic year (February, as opposed to September) means that KYUEM graduates have six months or so to kill before they can begin their studies.

Nowadays, too, many good universities are opening satellite campuses in other countries. The first time I experienced this personally was in the United Arab Emirates when prestigious universities set up shop in what was then called the "Knowledge Village" in Dubai. Here in Malaysia we have such British institutions as Newcastle University Medical School (NUMED), the Universities of Nottingham (UNIM), Heriot Watt, Reading and Southampton. Australia is represented by Monash and Curtin. These are likely to prove increasingly popular once it is more widely known and accepted that a degree from a satellite campus carries exactly the same weight as one from the parent institution.

Some years ago, distance education was tipped to become the preferred method of tertiary education in the future. I personally acted as a tutor on various online courses, up to and including Master's degrees. We were told that the days of the traditional college campus were numbered and the future was all about online and "blended" learning.

This has not been the case. Particularly at undergraduate level, students benefit from the interaction and discipline that only comes from formal study in a classroom, seminar or lecture theatre. The self discipline required to complete distance education courses at a high level is profound. It has been estimated that as many as 70% of distance Master's courses and an incredible 90% of similar doctoral programmes are never finished. The inevitable conclusion is, therefore, that the traditional campus is alive and well.

I believe that some of our KYUEM students should consider studying at a satellite campus in Malaysia. For example, this week we were visited by Southampton University from Johor. They only offer degree programmes in Engineering: a 4-year M. Eng, degree requires two years in Malaysia and two at the main UK campus. It was interesting to learn that Engineering lectures in the freshman year in Britain are attended by 200-300 students whereas the number in Johor is likely to be 20-30. In terms of student-teacher ratios, I know which I would prefer!

Of course, all KYUEM students will get the best possible advice on where to pursue their studies. We pay close attention to the requirements of sponsors, while for private students, we always make sure they are shown all the various options available to them.

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