The University of Reading Malaysia (UoRM) and Henley Business School Malaysia was officially inaugurated today by The British High Commissioner to Malaysia, Vicki Treadell CMG, MVO.
More than 400 guests, staff and students attended the formal opening ceremony in the University's state-of-the-art purpose-built complex in EduCity, Iskandar - part of an initial £13m (80m MYR) investment from Reading to date. At the ceremony, the University awarded honorary degrees to the High Commissioner and Ong See Lian – the first non-British President of The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and a Reading graduate.
Designed by international design practice Scott Brownrigg, UoRM is the University of Reading’s first multidisciplinary overseas campus. Based upon a simple forum approach, buildings are arranged around a covered heart space, blurring the edges between buildings and landscape, light and shade, students and staff, formal and informal, learning and social aspects of life.
The two main blocks are of simple practical construction, which are then over-clad with an open screen metal cladding, providing an element of solar shading, which together with the over-sailing roof, are a unifying and elegant element to the overall concept. The unified simplicity of the overall design concept maintains connectivity between all areas of the buildings, whilst ensuring simple flexibility and adaptability for the future as teaching requirements evolve.
A strong environmental message has been incorporated into the design, which responds to the different and challenging climatic conditions, local construction techniques and cultural sensitivities. The innovative design was also shortlisted in the World Architecture Festival Awards in 2013.
The new facilities will educate up to 3,000 students and include a wide range of faculties. The first foundation and undergraduate courses in business, finance, psychology, real estate and quantity surveying started last September, with Henley Business School’s MBA starting this month. All courses are fully University of Reading degrees, equal to the tough standards set in the UK but at half the equivalent tuition fees. All students are guaranteed the option to study from a term up to one year of their degree in Reading, while UK-based students can transfer to study in Malaysia.
The vibrant student village at EduCity offers halls of residence, catering, and excellent sports facilities making it one of the most advanced university sites in South East Asia.
Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor at University of Reading, said: “This is a momentous day for the University of Reading and Henley Business School. We are celebrating our 90th anniversary this year and Henley's 70th - but this is an ambitious and clear statement of intent for the future. This magnificent, state-of-the-art campus means we can project our world-leading research and teaching across Asia, while offering our students and staff with outstanding opportunities to study and work abroad."
Professor Tony Downes, Provost, University of Reading Malaysia, said: "The 21st century will be the 'Asian Century' and this is a long-term investment in Malaysia's economy, society and people. Our first-class teaching and research means we are giving graduates the knowledge, skills and experience they need to excel. We are engaging with industry, education and public policy partners across the country, as well as tapping into our very strong, engaged alumni base in Malaysia and across the region - all to equip the next generation in their chosen field. We want to play a key role in supporting Malaysia reach its very ambitious targets to attract 250,000 international students by 2025. We are offering the best of both worlds – a UK degree from the brand new campus in EduCity in one of Asia’s most dynamic countries. We are meeting the demand English-speaking degrees for students who want to study closer to home – tempted by lower fees, living expenses and travel costs."
Her Excellency Vicki Treadell said: "The education sector has been a great success story for Britain in Malaysia. We want to build further on that. We have just launched our "Education is GREAT" campaign with a series of initiatives that will enhance the education partnership between Britain and Malaysia. UK education is getting increasingly accessible with the offer of transnational education where one can pursue a British qualification outside Britain. Over 58,000 individuals are studying for a British qualification in Malaysia, making Malaysia Britain's largest market for transnational education. University of Reading Malaysia is the latest of five British universities with campus here in Malaysia, and I am pleased to see it playing a role in delivering education excellence."