Malaysia Provost’s vision

April 15th, 2013

Thirteen years since she was instrumental in setting up The University of Nottingham’s Malaysia Campus, Professor Christine Ennew returns to a country she loves to take up the helm as CEO and Provost at UNMC.

One of the first international universities in Malaysia, UNMC’s student population has grown to 4,500 while its research-active staff strengthen links with local communities and businesses.

Professor Ennew aims to develop UNMC’s position in Malaysia and across ASEAN — the association of ten south-east Asian countries of which Malaysia is a member.

“Thirteen years of experience, knowledge and understanding of how things work in Malaysia and the broader ASEAN region has put us in a strong position,” Professor Ennew said. “But there are increasing opportunities for the University to work closer with business, particularly supporting the professional development of staff, particularly those who have degrees but are looking to enhance their skills and abilities.

“I think there’s a lot we can do working with business, in terms of research and development, and increasingly I would see UNMC very much as the University of Nottingham’s base in ASEAN and an opportunity for us not just to work in Malaysia but also with business and other university partners throughout the region.”

On the agenda over the next five years are new courses and more students. A key aim is enhancing the student experience in a Nottingham-style environment which engages and challenges and encourages employment skills.

Hand-in-hand with student experience is research. Professor Ennew believes Nottingham’s expertise can address many of the challenges facing the region. Bio-product processing, oil palm residues, renewables, elephant conservation, digital technologies and global food security, especially through its Crops for the Future Research Centre, are all being pioneered at UNMC.

“We’ve got some tremendously talented colleagues here and I think my role as the person responsible for leading and developing the campus is to support them to help them achieve,” she said.

Another key role for UNMC is its contribution to Malaysia’s emergence as a hub for international higher education. “Malaysia’s long had a significant private higher education sector and I think there’s a lot others can learn from the way that sector has developed and has been managed,” Professor Ennew says. “Malaysia started with a vision of making the country a hub for higher education and that, of course, was one of the reasons why they wanted to attract international universities to establish campuses here.”

UNMC was part of a small core of four international universities in the country and more have followed.

“There’s been a lot of consolidation; many of the private colleges have become universities and the higher education sector has matured significantly, with much more focus around quality and with an increased interest in research and business engagement.”

Malaysia has always been close to Professor Ennew’s heart: “I was fortunate enough to come and live in Malaysia when we set up the campus. The climate is fantastic, the food is wonderful, people are friendly, welcoming, and you very quickly feel at home.

“It’s a very cosmopolitan environment. Whenever I come back, I always feel a bit like I’m coming back to my second home. Who wouldn’t want to be here? It is a fantastic, vibrant, exciting environment.”

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