University of Wollongong to make its presence felt in Penang

THE University of Wollongong (UOW) from Australia, one of the world’s top 250 universities, is buying a majority share in KDU Penang University College which is in the process of building a new campus in Batu Kawan.

This share buyout is subject to the approval by the Ministry of Education.

According to KDU Penang University College deputy vice-chancellor (Academic & Research) Dr Brian C. Imrie, the new campus is expected to be operational by end of the year, also pending the Ministry’s green light.

He said UOW had signed a share acquisition agreement with Paramount Holdings on Nov 19 last year to acquire 65% of KDU Penang University College, 65% of KDU University College in Utropolis Glenmarie (Shah Alam, Selangor) and 70% of KDU College in Damansara Jaya (Petaling Jaya, Selangor).

“In addition, the agreement provides for full acquisition of these institutions in the years to come on a willing buyer willing seller basis. In the meantime, we will still be known as KDU.

“It is transforming to be of international standard subject to approval by the Ministry to become part of the University of Wollongong.

“We’re very optimistic that our application will be approved,” Imrie told reporters after Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow had officiated the “Evolve Final Year Exhibition 2019” by KDU students at Jetty 35 in Weld Quay.

Imrie added that if everything goes through, they would be offering Wollongong University programmes at the new campus, probably commencing from 2020. The current KDU Penang University College at Anson Road in Penang will remain as the main campus.

Imrie believes that the University of Wollongong is the right partner for KDU.

“The Ministry is exploring what contribution Wollongong can offer the country. This is a leading institution of higher learning in the world. It will elevate the KDU colleges into a family of universities among the best in the world.

“Of course, the Ministry will be focused on the best possible outcome for current students and to building a higher education capability in Malaysia.

“I think Wollongong is the right partner because they have the experience in building international campus. They have 25 years of experience in Dubai; about six years ago they purchased the Hong Kong City University College and branded it as UOW College Hong Kong. We expect a similar sort of success with Wollongong coming in.”

Imrie added that the campus in Batu Kawan would be opened in two stages – with a capacity of 3,000 students for the first stage and 2,000 students for the second stage.

“We expect the entrance of UOW to strengthen Penang as an edu-tourism destination, because less than one percent of the 105,000 foreign students in private higher education institutions in Malaysia in 2017 are in Penang,” he said.

UOW, which is about 80km south of Sydney, has more than 34,000 students, of whom some 7,500 are studying outside Australia. Their students have access to study abroad and student exchange partnership with 180 universities in 44 countries.

Chow said the state government has been briefed by Paramount Holdings on the matter.

“We welcome this piece of very good news that the University of Wollongong is entering into a key strategic partnership with a leading Penang university college. I think it’s the first foreign-owned institution in Penang,” said Chow.

“Definitely it’s a very positive development. And we look forward to the opening of this branch campus. It will probably be at the end of the year. It’s near Ikea.”

Story by K.H. Ong
Pix by Adleena Rahayu Ahmad Radzi
Video by Chan Kok Kuan