Malaysia Dateline

Can a Japanese University be built in Malaysia ?

A university runs on six revenues. They include tuition fees, state or government support, medical hospitals, research spin offs, fees collected from the use of various facilities and philanthropy.

Almost all universities in the United States function on the above models. Since Japan is a close adjunct of the United States, the colleges and universities in Japan tend to mimic the same model.

But there is a problem. Japan is aging faster than any industrialized countries in the world, including Germany and Scandinavia. While Kyoto alone has more than 1200 colleges and universities surrounding the city and the suburbs, not all all of them can do well.

In this this sense, the financial and institutional crisis faced by US universities are equally felt in Japan. That means almost 90 per cent of the universities in Japan, if they are not firing on all six cylinders above—-can and do fail. Not now.

But in the next two decades, if not sooner. By inviting a Japanese university to operate in Putrajaya, Khalid Samad is doing the right thing. The Minister of Federal Territories and Labuan is encouraging Japan or Japanese universities to spread its wings.

Waseda University, which has granted an honorary doctorate to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad, in 2007, may yet be keen to advise Malaysia on how to attract a Japanese university to run in Kuala Lumpur.

But President Kumata of Waseda University has just retired from his role as the President. The new president of Mr Tanaka. While the latter is keen on Waseda expanding abroad, he hasn’t settled into the job to be able to do that. Thus, it will be some time to go before Waseda can physically explore the idea of building a university.

One of the largest education groups in Japan, also known as Ohshu Gakuen Education Group, might in turn be keen in building a secondary Japanese school in Malaysia that caters to students from the age of 11-18. Ohshu Gakuen has a junior and high school in Hiroshima, and it has also expanded to Auckland, New Zealand before.

As an IB accredited college with a Japanese curriculum, that focuses on the use of English and Japanese to teach science, mathematics, world history and Japanese literature, Ohshu Gakuen Education Group deserves a proper hearing on what they can do in Malaysia.

Will they be able to work with MARA, or, potentially, other Malay or Malaysian colleges in Malaysia too ?
These are all ideas that are worth some serious pursuits, both in the Prime Minister’s office and the various ministries that formed the government.

As things are, Teikyo University, which is a private university, has established itself in Malaysia. But not many Malaysian students have heard of Teikyo University before. If more students in MARA and without get to know about it, the interest in Japanese studies can begin in a place like Teikyo, potentially in the Ambang Jepun program in University of Malaya.

Be that as it may, the Ministry of Education in Japan, too, has to be proactive in encouraging Japanese universities to operate abroad. Right now, some of the Japanese universities in Japan that have started using English as a medium of instruction has primarily included Sophia University, International Christian University, the Graduate School of Asian Pacific Studies in Waseda University, and International University of Japan. One night include the Global Business Program in Japan too, or, better known as GLOBIS.

The Graduate Institute of International Policy Studies (GRIPS) and University of Tsukuba have excellent programs in global political economy. The latter is backed and sponsored by World Bank too.

If Malaysia and Japan can work with Asian Development Bank or World Bank, there is every likelihood that Japan and Malaysia can jointly create a solid university too. Some of the courses can be virtual or based on online learning methods.

If Malaysia has broad band international speed, Malaysia can be a top one of the leading cross roads of advanced International educations, based on a combo of Japanese and Malaysian curriculum.