Foreign university hopes to plug local brain drain
Newcastle University has set up a branch in EduCity, Iskandar Johor offering UK Primary Medical Qualification at a fraction of the price of studying abroad. Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia (NUMed) is run by its top staff from Newcastle University in UK, most of them alumni themselves.
Graduates of NUMed will graduate with MBBS degrees conferred by Newcastle University UK and will be eligible for provisional registration as a doctor with both the Malaysian Medical Council and the UK General Medical Council.
If you think that NUMed is like any other university that has opened a branch in Malaysia, you are wrong. It is a nonprofit university; its revenue goes back into medical research, development and education. With history, prestige and heritage like Newcastle University UK, making a profit is part of the education but not the ultimate goal.
"It is more for reputational gain, increasing the profile of the university. NUMed provides opportunities for Malaysians to obtain a Newcastle University UK degree without having to study abroad. Each year the intake in Newcastle University UK is limited to 25 international students. Now, the same world-class quality education is made available to students at a more affordable fee with approximately 60 per cent of the cost of studying in the UK," said Professor Reginald Jordan, chief executive officer and Provost of NUMed.
NUMed started operations in 2009, with its first batch of students starting out in Newcastle University UK while the Malaysian campus was under construction. Currently, there are first-year, second-year, third-year and fourth-year students and the university expects its first graduates by 2014. There are about 100 students in NUMed now, including international students. The lecturer to student ratio is 1:4.
"We are looking at a modest but sustainable growth and we have invested US$180 million on the infrastructure. Our lease is a minimum of 30 years so NUMed is here to stay," said Professor Jordan.
The issue of brain drain has been plaguing Malaysia in recent years and NUMed hopes to help curb the problem. Professor Jordan has more than 30 years of experience in medical education, serving as the Director of Medical Studies and Head of Immunology at Newcastle University UK.
"What brain drain is the loss of bright young people away from the country but what NUMed seeks to do is to attract experts and specialists to come work in NUMed. We are here to assist and help - not here to teach people how to do it but to enrich both Malaysians and UK specialists, melding the best of both worlds. We learn from each other, pooling medical know-how with shared aims of capacity building and contributing to the health economy," said Professor Jordan.
Serving as a Dean for International Medical Education for Newcastle University UK, he also handled international student affairs and is well-versed with the brain drain issue.
"There are three ways how NUMed can help reduce the brain drain. Firstly, the medical students who study in their home country usually stay on and practise there. This is seen from the history of Newcastle University UK. The second way is by providing quality staff. A third of Numed's faculty is from Newcastle University UK with two thirds of internationally known specialists coming in. Finally, Numed is working with the Ministry of Health, public hospitals and clinics to treat patients. We have four years of relationship with the hospitals and clinics near NUMed and we have worked with government service specialists to train junior doctors."