Iskandar Malaysia’s EduCity is fast shaping up as the region’s education hub, and the launch of one of UK’s elite schools, Marlborough College, in Malaysia’s biggest education township has created some positive buzz among the property and education experts. In an exclusive with iProperty.com, the Master of Marlborough College Malaysia, Bob Pick, speaks to us about values, aspirations and thoughts on Iskandar.
iProperty.com: Tell us about Marlborough College’s origins and its journey so far.
Bob Pick (Marlborough College Malaysia): Marlborough College was founded in 1843 by a group of Church of England clergymen, with the backing of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Hearing that the Castle Inn at Marlborough was vacant, they took a lease on it and Marlborough College began in August 1843 with the first admission of 199 boys.
In 1968, Marlborough was one of the first traditional boys' boarding schools to admit girls into the Sixth Form. In 1989, the College went fully co-educational with girls admitted into the Lower School and the establishment of the first all-girls boarding houses. Today, the College caters for about 870 pupils, of which just over a third are girls.
iP: What sets Marlborough College apart from other international schools?
MCM: Marlborough College Malaysia is fully-integrated with Marlborough College in the UK in terms of curriculum, strategy and operations. About half the teachers at Marlborough College Malaysia have studied and/or taught at Marlborough College in the UK. There will be pupil and teacher exchanges between the two campuses that comprise the unique feature of this enterprise. Pupils at Marlborough College Malaysia will be able to access Marlborough College in the UK, and benefit from the cross-cultural interaction with their UK peers.
Additionally, Marlborough College’s programme not only offers the physical facilities for boarding but also an entire ecosystem of support for pupils as they navigate through this period of their lives. We have an extensive mentorship support team that comprises of Housemasters and Housemistresses, supported by Resident Tutors and other members, who inculcate social responsibility and other moral values in the pupils. With these mentors providing counsel and assurance, pupils have a safe, challenging environment to learn in.
The Marlborough College Malaysia campus itself conveys what we aim to achieve with the school that sets us apart from international schools with more restricted land areas. With extracurricular and boarding facilities spread across a 90-acre campus, we plan to nurture pupils’ talents in the arts and sports, as well as give them a deep appreciation of the natural environment through exposure to the natural beauty within the campus.
Marlborough College & Iskandar Malaysia
iP: Why was Iskandar chosen as Marlborough College’s Asian campus destination?
MCM: Iskandar offers an expanse of land, about 90 acres actually, and that surpassed all the other sites we considered. It also has a good regulatory framework that supports our education goals, and we found an ideal partner in Iskandar Investment Berhad, which shares these goals as well.
iP: How will Marlborough College complement the growth of Iskandar Malaysia as an educational hub?
MCM: Marlborough College is proud to be part of EduCity, the education hub in Iskandar. The education cluster, which includes Newcastle University, the University of Reading and the University of Southampton, forms an intellectual community that the students from all these institutions will benefit from. We hope to work with such education partners by sharing facilities, joint visits, lectures and other activities in the years ahead. This will enable our institutions to learn from one another in a vibrant intellectual community.
iP: How is the education system in Marlborough College different from the Malaysian or Singaporean education system?
MCM: We believe that we have much to learn from both education systems, and this is precisely why we have expanded overseas – to gain an international perspective that will enrich our curriculum to prepare students for life in a global environment.
In Marlborough College, we believe that the character of an individual is a greater predictor of success than solely grades. Therefore, moral values and social responsibility is a cornerstone of our curriculum, emphasised through the mentorship programme.
We emphasise the importance of learning to think. Pupils are challenged to think for themselves and to ask questions. Pupils debate ideas not only in class but also in informal conversations in boarding houses and around the school. Encouraging them to view issues from a broad perspective and challenge their own assumptions help to improve thinking skills and increase their self-knowledge.
Pupils are also given the opportunity to interact with nature even as Asia becomes increasingly urban. These distinct features make our pupils informed, thoughtful and responsible citizens who make a difference to their communities and are steadfast in their values in today’s ever-changing world.
iP: Will Marlborough College Malaysia attract other international schools to EduCity?
MCM: We are glad to be a part of EduCity, a hub for education with significant potential for growth and to become one of Asia’s premier education destinations. We would not be surprised if other international schools chose to open their doors there too.
Just Across the Pond
iP: How will this affect enrolments in Singapore, renowned for attracting international students?
MCM: Marlborough College offers quality holistic education that prepares pupils for a global and fast-changing life. We aim to attract pupils from Malaysia, Singapore and elsewhere in the region and beyond.
iP: Can Singapore benefit from the setting up of Iskandar’s EduCity? How so?
MCM: Singapore and the Iskandar education markets are complementary as Singapore's education institutions benefit from EduCity via opportunities for joint seminars, student exchanges and faculty collaboration between institutions in EduCity in Singapore. If EduCity attracts more institutions and students, this region as a whole will benefit from a more vibrant education landscape.