Offshore campus opens

July 24, 1998

AUSTRALIA's largest university is expected to open two more offshore campuses, one in South Africa and another in Indonesia, following its success in Malaysia.

More than 400 students enrolled at the Kuala Lumpur campus when it officially opened last week after receiving a licence from the Malaysian government in February.

Monash previously had a twinning arrangement with the Malaysian Sunway College. It was unable to set up its own campus until the government amended legislation prohibiting foreign institutions operating independently.

The Monash campus, now part of the Malaysian university system, is located on a nine-hectare site at Bandar Sunway near Kuala Lumpur's airport. Unlike the twinning programme, under which students came to Australia to complete their degrees after the first one or two years in Malaysia, students can study for their entire Monash degree at home.

While Monash vice-chancellor David Robinson was flying across Asia to visit Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur, academics at his university in Melbourne were discussing industrial action over moves to slash staff numbers further.

The university claims it faces an Aus$40 million (Pounds 15 million) budget shortfall in the next two years. Academic and general staff unions warned that there would be industrial action over redundancies.

The unions claim the university has a surplus of more than Aus$120 million. Yet academics and general staff in the arts faculty have been told that up to 60 more posts will probably go on top of 70 already lost. The faculty's 25 departments could be cut to 12.

An Aus$2.4 million cut to science imposed by the Monash council in December will mean the loss of another 16 jobs in that faculty. This follows an 18 per cent reduction in staffing in 1996-97.

But in Jakarta, Professor Robinson was optimistic about the university's future. He said it wanted to play a much more active role "in the broader global environment" with a significant teaching and research presence in many countries outside Australia.

"Despite the economic crisis in Indonesia, Monash is very optimistic about the country's medium and long-term outlook," Professor Robinson said.

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