Reading hopes Malaysia branch will bear fruit

The University of Reading aims to open a campus in Malaysia, becoming the latest in a growing band of UK universities to establish overseas offshoots.

December 15, 2011

Reading's plans follow recent announcements from Lancaster University, which will partner with Guangdong University of Foreign Studies to open a campus in China, and the University of Nottingham, which has begun talks on a Shanghai branch that would be its third overseas campus.

Currently, 10 UK universities have students studying at overseas campuses under their ownership, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

The undisclosed capital costs for Reading's Malaysia campus will be taken on by its partner, Education@Iskandar Sendirian Berhad. Subject to approval by the Malaysian Ministry for Higher Education, the university will run courses in business and law, the built environment, chemistry and pharmacy.

Rob Robson, who has been appointed provost of the new campus, said the choice was driven by Reading's existing links in the country, namely an association with Taylor's College in Kuala Lumpur.

"We'd been looking at a number of places, but it would have been hard not to come to that conclusion," he said of the decision.

Among the other UK universities offering overseas provision are Heriot-Watt University - the first UK institution to set up an overseas campus - in Dubai; University College London, which recently opened a campus in Qatar; and Middlesex University, which operates overseas campuses in Dubai and Mauritius. Middlesex's plans for a third campus in Noida, India, were dropped earlier this year.

Joanna Newman, director of the UK Higher Education International Unit, said the growth in the number of universities opening overseas campuses could prove fruitful.

"It provides the sector with an opportunity to embed the UK HE brand within long-term and sustainable partnerships. More students are studying for UK degrees overseas than in this country; it is a trend we expect to grow," she said.

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