Key to the world
MALAYSIA is known as one of the top education destinations in Asia and its many foreign branch campuses have contributed to its status.
With lower tuition fees and living cost compared to campuses in the home country, branch campuses are attracting students locally and abroad.
Differences in tuition fees between local private institutions and branch campuses are not so great, but the payoff is the branch campus experience.
Furthermore, just like private institutions, Malaysian students who enrol in branch campuses are also eligible for local financial schemes and scholarships such as government loans ( PTPTN) and Public Service Department ( JPA) scholarships that can help ease their financial constraints.
In addition, branch campuses also offer their own scholarships, which could be less competitive than those offered at the home campus.
Due to the lower academic fees and living costs compared to the home campuses, branch campuses in Malaysia attract many students from South Asia, South- East Asia, the Middle East, Russia and Africa, in addition to exchange students from the home campus.
With cheaper education costs paired with inter- and intracampus programmes, branch campuses become melting pots of culture, people and ideas and have some of the most diverse student communities in the country.
This allows local students to become more open to people from various backgrounds and cultures. In return, foreign students are able to indulge in the “Malaysian experience” and explore what the country has to offer.
According to Athira Nortajuddin, an alumna from The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, her branch campus experience has exposed her to diverse communities that have impacted her personal growth.
“I am beyond grateful that I was exposed to an international environment where I now have friends from all over the world.
“Back in my undergraduate days, I hung out with not only my Malaysian friends of different races but also exchange students from the United Kingdom and China campuses as well as other international students, whom I am proud to say I am still in touch with,” she says.
A growing presence
The branch campuses in Malaysia are predominantly of universities in the UK and Australia, with establishments in the Klang Valley, Sarawak and Johor.
This is likely because of Malaysia’s long historical relationship with the UK and its proximity to Australia.
The home campuses of many branch campuses have been known to be on the forefront of education and they are also some of the oldest and best academic institutions in the world.
According to Tracking International Graduate Outcomes 2011 by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, UK, employees who have a UK degree have higher salaries when hired in the home country.
Australian universities, on the other hand, are well known for their cutting- edge work in research and development in addition to producing distinguished graduates.
To achieve this, branch campuses in Malaysia bring in experts and curricula from their home campuses.
The programmes at Heriot- Watt University’s foreign campuses consist of the same curricula as the home campus in the UK.
Students will have the same academic experience when studying in the different HeriotWatt campuses in Edinburgh, Dubai and Malaysia. The differentiating factors are the cultural and learning experiences students get from studying in these countries.
Branch campuses also work closely with local institutions and academicians in terms of education, partnerships, and research and development.
These efforts help to provide the best education for students and, in the long run, aid their transition if they decide to further their studies abroad.
Helen Sneha Jambunathan, a graduate from the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University Malaysia, believes that her academic experience in a branch campus contributed to her acceptance to Cambridge University to pursue her master’s degree.
“My undergraduate experience was academically thoughtprovoking and I was able to expand my horizons by producing content such as radio documentaries and magazine articles.
“I also completed an internship at a local civil society organisation as part of a credited unit.
“These opportunities allowed me to gain valuable work experience, network and learn about community engagement, while applying the skills of the classroom to real- life situations.
“That exposure has definitely shaped and redefined my future goals as well as opened new doors for me,” she says.
Branch campuses also offer an excellent buffer period for students who are planning to pursue a degree in the home campus but want to eliminate excess costs in the first few years.
Typically, students can opt to transfer their credits to the home campus to continue their studies there or enrol in an exchange programme to the home campus or other international partner campuses to experience studying abroad.
Hence, branch campuses offer a uniquely international academic experience that encompasses the comfort and cost effectiveness of studying locally.
Branch campuses in Malaysia have been established in the Klang Valley, Sarawak and the Iskandar region of Johor.