In the famous words of American author Ralph Ellison, education is all about creating connections that matter right into the psyche of a human being. This visionary quote was quite unimaginable just fifty years ago that education would travel to people, instead of people to education. With the advent of technology and the connections we have today, not only is it possible to bring the world’s best universities and institutions under one roof, it is also possible to create a high-growth education hub like no other. This is where EduCity in Iskandar Malaysia aims to make the connection in educating the best and brightest the world has to offer. We find out how it plans to bridge the gap.
When EduCity, a pioneer education project to be located in Nusajaya, Iskandar Malaysia was launched, there was great excitement in the air as it was the concrete realization of the many plans that Malaysia had to boost its education and academic standing in the world’s rankings. As it stands, the Iskandar project was begun by the Malaysian government with the hope of attracting RM335bil of investment to the area over two decades. Once completed, the project could be three times the size of Singapore.
EduCity is a sprawling 305-acre, fully integrated education hub featuring some of the world’s renowned universities and tertiary education institutes, academia-industry research and development (R&D) centres, accommodation and also state-of-the-art facilities, including sports facilities. Built with two main objectives in mind, Educity is touted to be able to kick-start the culture of critical thought through research and development in the academia. The first objective listed in EduCity’s charter is to create a best-in-class higher education destination with superior urban environment academic institutions, students, and guests to live, work, study and play. The second objective is to provide a feeder system for the economic pillars of Iskandar Malaysia and contribute to the nation’s aspiration to become a regional hub for education.
Making Education Worthwhile
Some of the faculties that are set to exist in EduCity are Medicine, Maritime Studies, Engineering, Hospitality, Creative Arts, Logistics, ICT, Business and Finance. The owner of EduCity, Education@Iskandar Sdn Bhd (EISB), has roped in major educational institutions to collaborate on this landmark project. Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia (NUMed) is one of the universities set to create a campus here, offering medical and surgical degrees. NUMed Malaysia currently has over 40 students enrolled, and plan to increase that number to 1000 by 2017.
Netherland Maritime Institute of Technology (NMIT), a partnership between Maritiem Instituut Willem Barentsz, Maritiem Instituut de Ruyter and Dutch-Malaysia owned, Maritime Intel Sdn Bhd (MISB), the operating company of NMIT, will offer diploma, degree and master programmes in marine transport, shipping seafaring, maritime and logistics management. All the courses in NMIT will be International Maritime Organisation accredited, and students taking up programmes offered can expect to start their career with any international shipping company.
There are also plans to rope in an American cinematic school, in collaboration with a local private university, to set up base in EduCity. The university is set to teach the art of film making, with courses in film production, editing, script-writing, music, stage design, special effects make-up, costume design and wardrobe. Raffles Education, Singapore’s non-profit higher learning institute, will also join the boat with these universities and become EduCity’s largest campus by 2014.
Growing Talent in the Region
What is interesting to note about the universities and programmes being offered by EduCity is that they are directly linked to Iskandar Malaysia’s socio-economic development. An Australian hospitality and tourism institute is being approached to set up base in EduCity, with the hopes that the products of the institute’s Iskandar branch would be able to start their careers with the hotels within the economic corridor, what more with the launch of the highly-anticipated Legoland Malaysia and also The Indoor Theme Park @ Puteri Harbour.
The cinematic school, too, is there for a purpose, as Iskandar Malaysia has signed a RM400mil deal with internationally renowned film production company, Pinewood Shepperton, to set up the region’s biggest independently-owned studio right here. Pinewood is famous for their work with the James Bond and Harry Potter series, Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, and Hollywood blockbuster The da Vinci Code.
Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studio (PIMS) is scheduled to start production in 2013, and the cinematic school graduates are guaranteed to be able to taste a tinge of the Hollywood glamour by working with the experts of PIMS. Johor is a popular international harbour and port, and NMIT students can be assured of job opportunities to flood by them as soon as they graduate.
Projecting the Future
With a plan like this, there is little doubt that EduCity would be a successful venture for Khazanah Nasional Berhad, who own Iskandar Investment Berhad (IIB). Malaysia’s reputation as a regional leader in education and academia is set to grow and with the sports facilities in tow, some of the nation’s and world’s best sportsmen are set to be unearthed too. The tagline for the project, “A Community of Best Practices in Academia,” reflects the hub’s true motive: to provide the world’s best resources for students all over the world, with job opportunities that abound within the same locale itself. It is this crucial link that bridges the gap of training and knowledge with the necessities of the industry surrounding them.