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21 February 2008

Monash Uni Opening

Bernadette Nunn: This is Australia's Monash University but we're not in Australia. This is Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

In 1998 the now Deputy Prime Minister invited Monash to be the first foreign university allowed in Malaysia. Nine years later the fanfare marks the opening of the Australian university's new $80 million campus.

Dato' Sri Najib Tn Razak: (Deputy Prime Minister, Malaysia) We believe that we should promote private education because we believe that private education can complement public education because the government has limited resources.

Bernadette Nunn: The Malaysia campus now has six faculties and more than 3000 students who pay around 40% less in fees than it would cost to study the same course at Monash in Australia.

Professor Merilyn Liddell: But it's not cut price in the sense of any corners cut and so there's a lot of emphasis put on making sure that the academic standards are absolutely equivalent.

Bernadette Nunn: Are you sometimes under pressure to admit or to pass people who aren't of standard?

Professor Merilyn Liddell: We get asked but we stick strictly to our standards, and people respect that. When they understand that we apply that across the board, and that applies to the highest as well as the lowest, they do understand.

Tan Sri Dr Jeffery Cheah: If we have Monash here we know the standard, the quality and the reputation will be kept well and therefore it will be a good benchmark for the Malaysian university also to be here, to look at what Monash is doing.

Bernadette Nunn: What does it say to Malaysian education institutions that its own Government thinks that you need to have foreign universities here?

Dato' Sri Najib Tn Razak: No, as I said, we can take advantage of the presence of foreign universities whilst we build up our own institutions. I'm very confident that our own local public institutions will grow in stature, and one day we will be at par with some of the leading universities in the world.

Professor Richard Larkins: It's not a matter of Australia saying in a colonial or imperialistic sense, 'We are here to help you.' We are here to gain mutual benefit for our two countries.

Professor Merilyn Liddell: And we don't even think of ourselves as foreign anymore. We're Monash but we're also a Malaysian institution.

Bernadette Nunn: Monash exists in Malaysia thanks to a partnership with a multimillionaire businessman who provided the land and financial backing.

Tan Sri Dr Jeffery Cheah: That's a lot of money but I cannot remember. In education it's a long term thing.

Bernadette Nunn: Monash Malaysia now funds itself, financed by student fees with the profits re-invested in the campus.

Professor Richard Larkins: As we all know not all international ventures by universities have enjoyed such success.

It's about being truly a global and international university. It's not about making money.

Tan Sri Dr Jeffery Cheah: As far as I'm concerned I have never looked at profit as so important. It's building the image. It's building the reputation and the quality education that we are giving to students. That is most important.

That is why when we started medical school I have got a lot of objection, including my CEO, associate that it's too expensive, you cannot afford it. So I have to say I underwrite it. No problem. We have to do it.

Professor Anuar Zaini: This is another section of the real human being in China, with all the sections in thin slice and you see the real part of the brain and this is related to the student have to learn about x-rays, MRI.

Actual brain.

Dato' Sri Najib Tn Razak: Actual brain's been sliced.

Professor Anuar Zaini: Yes, it's been sliced.

Bernadette Nunn: It's the only training school in Asia accredited by the Australian Medical Council which means Monash Malaysia graduates can practice in Australia.

Lecturer: And here is the brachial artery.

Professor Richard Larkins: It is a very important indicator of the quality of what was being developed and delivered, or what will be delivered through our medical course in Malaysia is of a very high standard and certainly equivalent to what is being delivered through the medical schools based in Australia.

Bernadette Nunn: In future Monash Australia wants its medical students to complete part of their degree at the Malaysia campus.

Professor Stephanie Fahey: It's very important that our Australian students actually spend time in that medical school because the diseases, the problems that are faced by the people in this region are quite different from Australia.

So, I would see in the medical faculty we're trying to send as many of our domestic students to Malaysia as possible.

Dato' Sri Najib Tn Razak: I think we have very compelling reasons why people want to study in Malaysia so our target is to get about 100,000 students by the year 2010.

Professor Merilyn Liddell: We've got 25% international students, mainly from the region but all over and we've got about 25% international staff so it's pretty much a mini United Nations and it actually works, it works really well.

Professor Richard Larkins: Many of those students come from Indonesia, from the Indian subcontinent, from Thailand and increasingly, into the future, we expect from the Middle East.

Bernadette Nunn: So, Monash University in Malaysia will be bigger than Monash in Australia.

Tan Sri Dr Jeffery Cheah: I hope so. This is why this, in terms of population, in terms of everything, this is the centre. Right?