Strengthening global research ties with local touch

Vice-Chancellor’s address to UOW Malaysia KDU focused on post pandemic collaboration, inaugurating the Batu Kawan campus

Strengthening global research ties with a local touch

Knowledge sharing, strategic partnerships and striving for excellence have been at the core of the University of Wollongong’s (UOW) guiding principles. These principles were reflected in UOW Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Patricia M. Davidson’s address when she visited the UOW Malaysia KDU this week.

Professor Davidson visited the UOW Malaysia KDU to discuss issues relating to post-pandemic recovery and collaboration at the industry event ‘Colloquium on Australia-Malaysia Education Industry: Opportunity Knocks’.

The event was hosted by UOW Malaysia KDU, a part of UOW’s global network, and brought together Australian universities in Malaysia – Monash University Malaysia, Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak and Curtin University Sarawak.

The Chancellor of UOW Malaysia KDU Datuk Seri (Dr) Michael Yam Kong Choy presented the welcome address, which was followed by the opening address from the Australian High Commissioner Dr Justin Lee.

In her speech Professor Davidson said: “The greatest contribution of universities is the role that we play in driving growth in productivity and living standards through the research we produce and the graduates we supply to the labour market.

“The greatest value of universities to society is the dissemination of new knowledge and ideas. It can be achieved through cross-sharing research initiatives, and applying global solutions to local problems.

“Malaysian students make up the 8th largest market for Australia with 15,800 students in Australia in 2021. 25 per cent of all Malaysian outbound students studied in Australia and Australia is among the top three countries of choice for Malaysians going abroad for studies.”

UOW VC Professor Patricia M. Davidson addressing the audience at the event.

UOWGE CEO Asia and UOW Malaysia KDU CEO Ms. Jennifer Ng said the colloquium was an excellent opportunity for Australian universities in Malaysia to share their experiences, successes and challenges in operating foreign private universities in Malaysia.

“Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic was a common denominator in causing much disruption to the operations of all our universities. This is the first time post-pandemic that Australian universities in Malaysia have an opportunity to meet, to talk about the challenges posed by the pandemic and share strategies we are adopting to future-proof our institutions from similar crisis,” Ms Ng said.

Opening of the Batu Kawan campus

The Vice-Chancellor also officially opened the iconic Batu Kawan campus, which brings an Australian higher education experience to Mainland Penang.

The launch ceremony was attended by senior UOW executive members from both Australian and Malaysian campuses, industry partners, research collaborators and educators.

The 10-acre campus boasts 23 classrooms, two modern lecture theatres, two smart classrooms, a co-study lab, seven computer labs, hospitality training suites, an internet-of-things lab, two science labs, two examination halls and an expansive library with amply seating areas equipped with power points for teams of students to power their gadgets and hold discussions.

The Batu Kawan campus offers foundation programs to postgraduate programs in various disciplines. Students can complete the entire program or part of their studies in Malaysia and the rest in Australia. Students can also study in any of the UOW global campuses for one semester or participate in a two-week mobility program.

The campus also has a design studio, technical drafting studio and 3D animation studio. This premium study environment for students is topped with plenty of open spaces, a football field, garden and a gymnasium.

The newly opened Batu Kawan campus

“We are excited to open the Batu Kawan campus and ready to offer the world-class Australian higher education experience to local students,” Professor Davidson said

“As the pandemic settles down to its endemic phase, UOW Malaysia KDU’s Batu Kawan campus is set to grow into a hub for experimentation on new, emerging technologies, focussing on research into IR [Industrial Revolution] 4.0 innovations.

“UOW aims to create and nurture high-quality links with industry to work towards common goals and missions of driving innovations.

“We have already begun to collaborate with various semiconductor multinational companies and local hi-tech companies on projects in a variety of semi-conductor and IR 4.0 fields.

“With all these collaborative initiatives, it is envisaged that the Batu Kawan campus will become a focal point of teaching, research, and knowledge transfer in IR 4.0 and beyond, on top of elevating the quality of Penang’s human capital.”

At the end of the launch, the campus hosted a panel session, ‘Beyond Industrial Revolution 4.0 and Towards Sustainability’, focused on how education and industry can collaborate to nurture graduates by exposing students to industry culture and emerging technologies while studying so they are industry-ready when they graduate.

The speakers from the panel included Austrade Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner to Malaysia and Brunei Mr Paul Sanda, Penang Skills Development Centre CEO Mr. Tan Eng Tong, ViTrox Analytics Intelligence Solutions Senior Director Mr Gary Leong, Intel Technologies Design Engineering Director Dr Ong Sze Wei, and UOW Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences Executive Dean Senior Professor Gursel Alici.

About the University of Wollongong Malaysia KDU

UOW Malaysia KDU is part of the University of Wollongong Australia’s global network, but has a long history of providing accessible, quality, tertiary education in Malaysia, and the surrounding regions, as KDU college and university colleges.

UOW is a top 1 percent university and is ranked 185th in the world (QS World University Rankings, 2023); 14th best modern university in the world (QS Top 50 Under 50 Rankings 2021) and 23rd in the world by Times Higher Education Young University Rankings 2021. In addition to Malaysia, the University of Wollongong’s global network extends to campuses in Australia, Dubai and Hong Kong.

In November 2018, KDU entered into an agreement whereby UOW Global Enterprises, a wholly-owned subsidiary of UOW Australia, acquired a controlling stake in the KDU university colleges and college. In November 2019, the name of the college and university colleges were changed to reflect the stewardship of the University of Wollongong and are now known as UOW Malaysia KDU.

The UOW Malaysia KDU college and university colleges now form an integral part of the University Wollongong Australia global network. A recent addition is the former Ramsay Sime Darby Healthcare College, now renamed UOW Malaysia College, offering nursing and allied healthcare programs.

UOW Malaysia KDU shares UOW’s spirit of innovation and focus on producing career-ready graduates to meet real-world needs. This expansion allows a combination of UOW’s internationally recognised teaching programs and personalised approach with UOW Malaysia KDU’s state-of-the-art campuses and vibrant, industry-focused programs.

It provides a high-quality educational experience that will help shape graduates and foster their growth in becoming future global leaders.

Header image (L-R): Mr Noel Cornish AM, UOW Malaysia Board Chairman, Professor Patricia M. Davidson and Y.A.B. Tuan Chow Kon Yeow, Chief Minister of Penang at the official opening of Batu Kawan campus

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