MALAYSIA has granted Monash University of Australia a licence to establish a campus in the country.
After two years of negotiations, Monash will open its seventh campus - its first outside Australia - in Kuala Lumpur in July. With more than 40,000 students, Monash is Australia's largest tertiary institution.
Education minister Najib Tun Abdul Razak said the campus would also be a first for Southeast Asia. It would offer degrees in information technology, engineering and business management.
Tuition fees will be about Aus$5,500 (Pounds 2,300) a year compared with up to Aus$20,000 a year for Malaysians to study in Australia, excluding travel or living expenses. Under the government's Vision 2020 plan, Malaysia intends to become a net exporter of education. The Monash campus aims to attract students from all over Asia.
A majority of the students enrolling on the Monash campus is likely to be Malaysian Chinese, although they comprise only 40 per cent of the population. They also make up the majority of Malaysians who study abroad.
Monash has had a twinning arrangement since 1993 with the private Malaysian Sunway College, which was built by the Sungei Way group and set up as an education trust last December.
Called the Monash University Sunway Campus Malaysia, the new institution will be located on a 20-acre Sungei Way development site near Kuala Lumpur's airport.
Nottingham University pulled out of discussions with Sungei Way last year when it decided to seek to replicate a green field campus rather than developing in an urban environment. David Allen, Nottingham's registrar, said the university still hoped to establish a high-quality campus in Malaysia.
Monash vice-chancellor David Robinson said his university was providing the "intellectual capital" while Sungei Way had erected the six-storey building.
A joint venture company, Monash Sunway Pty Ltd, will run the campus and cover operating costs. Under the not-for-profit structure, money generated will be reinvested in education. Monash retains control over all academic matters such as staff appointments, assessment and courses and will receive royalties.
"Many Malaysian students will still come to Australia for their university education," Professor Robinson said. "The government's decision to allocate its first licence enhances the reputation of Monash in particular and Australia in general. We have 8,000 alumni in Malaysia and they are delighted and will be rallying round the new campus. It's the first step in Monash's desire to establish campuses in other countries and to be part of their higher education systems."
Monash also hopes to get registration from South Africa next month to establish a branch campus there, to operate from 1999.
Professor Robinson said Australian students would also be able to study on the Kuala Lumpur campus. This year 350 students from Melbourne will spend at least one semester abroad and it is hoped that eventually one in 10 students can do so.
He said Monash had established a Aus$1 million fund to allow its students to go overseas. Those selected for the programme receive a return airfare to the country where they plan to enrol.