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UK universities expand in Asia

The UK-based University of Southampton plans to open a branch campus for engineering in Malaysia this year. Southampton, a member of the research-intensive Russell Group, says it expects 60 students when the campus opens in October.

Students in the mechanical engineering program would spend the first two years in Malaysia before moving to the UK to finish their study. This would allow Malaysian students to graduate with a Southampton degree at 60 per cent of the cost of studying wholly in the UK, according to John McBride, chief executive of the new branch campus.

“The programmes of study are, as far as possible, the same as those of our UK-based provision, and lead to the award of the same degrees.” Professor McBride said. Malaysian students would pay 80,000 Malaysian Ringgit ($A25000) for the first two years, rising to 29,600 British Pounds ($A44000) for the last two years. However, scholarships reducing these fees would be available.

Graduates would emerge with professional accreditation in both the UK and Malaysia. The second half of the degree in the UK would involve working on design or research projects, often involving industry. Southampton says it has a world-leading wind tunnel complex used by many F1 motor racing teams since the 1980s.

“We supply more aerodynamicists to the F1 industry than any other university in the world,” the university says in a prospectus for the Malaysia campus. The campus is part of the EduCity Iskandar Malaysia complex in Malaysia’s economic zone in southern Johor.

The EduCity complex also hosts a medical campus of the UK-based Newcastle University, which opened last November with 80 students, and the Netherlands Maritime Institute of Technology. In 2008 Southampton appointed Don Nutbeam, provost at the University of Sydney, as its vice-chancellor. Meanwhile, the University of Central Lancashire says it will be the first UK institution to establish a full campus in Thailand, the BBC has reported.

The campus, being developed with Thai-based entrepreneur Sitichai Charoenkajonkul, is to open in Bangkok in 2014. And the University of Nottingham has announced it will hire another 30 engineering academics for its “Sino-foreign collaborative university” in Ningbo, China. Nottingham was the first to open such an entity with the backing of Chinese authorities in 2004. It teaches in English.

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