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New Option For Pursuing Medical Course Locally

Last update: 07/11/2012
By Hazlinda Hamzah

NUSAJAYA, Nov 7 (Bernama) -- Many parents wish to see their children taking up medical or related courses in local public universities but this wish is hampered by the lack of adequate seats.

A case in point being that of Norli (not her full name) from Johor Baharu, whose daughter wanted to pursue dentistry after obtaining excellent CGPA (Cumulative Grade Point Average) in a science matriculation programme at a local university.

But competition was stiff. Finally, Norli's daughter had to settle for a biology course at a Klang Valley university.

Norli's daughter is among the many Malaysian students who want to pursue professional courses like medicine and dentistry but limited availability of seats in local public universities prevent them from doing so.

However, foreign universities have begun setting up branch campuses in the country and among them is NUMed Malaysia, a branch campus of Newcastle University, United Kingdom.


"NUMed Malaysia is Newscastle University's first branch campus outside the United Kingdom," says Prof Reginald K Jordan, NUMed's provost and CEO.

He says the university picked Malaysia for its first international branch campus due to the country's stability and increasing acceptance as the region's education hub.

After more than 175 years, Newcastle University is ready to spread its wings and Malaysia is the university's choice for its first branch campus outside the United Kingdom.

"Before the setting up of NUMed Malaysia, the university had studied the possibility of opening its branch campus in India and China, as well as in the Gulf nations.

"However, investing in these countries is riskier, as compared to Malaysia," explains Prof Jordan to Bernama.


NUMed Malaysia is located over an area of 6.0 hectares in EduCity, Nusajaya near Kota Iskandar. The university's main campus is located in Newcastle upon Tyne in the northeast of England. It was set up in 1834 as a medical and surgery school.

NUMed Malaysia offers the Bachelor's in Medicine and Surgery (MBBS) at its Johor campus.

There are now 20 Mara-sponsored students studying medicine at Newcastle University's main campus in England. They are now in their fourth year and will complete their final year in Malaysia.

"NUMed Malaysia is the first university to operate in EduCity," says Prof Jordan.


One of the Mara-sponsored students is Ahmad Zaid Jasmin, 23. He is now in NUMed Malaysia's campus in EduCity.

"It is indeed more challenging to study overseas but my experience in studying medicine in UK has been rewarding. We are able to meet all challenges with perseverance and determination," says Ahmad Zaid.

According to a survey by Times Higher Education, Newcastle University is among the world's best 150 universities.

The university has collaborated with its counterparts in the United States and other nations, including Singapore.


"The campus site in Nusajaya is definitely cheaper than other options in Singapore," says Prof Jordan.

Nusajaya's location, being close enough to Singapore, is crucial as Singapore is the hub of information technology in the region which can be fully exploited, according to him.

The ratio of students to staff at NUMed Malaysia is at 4:1, an encouraging figure in terms of student-staff relations. The university plans to admit 180 students each year with the objective of having 1,000 students after five years.

At NUMed, students are exposed to clinical studies since the start of their studies.

Johor Baharu-born Teh Jin Zhe, 20, chooses to pursue medicine as he has a preference for biological sciences. He is a medical undergraduate at NUMed Malaysia campus.

Before 2011, NUMed students needed to be in Newcastle for two years before returning to Johor to finish the final three years of their medical course.

"Since 2011, the students have been able to fully pursue the medical course here which has become a cost-saving option," Teh says.


Last September, 119 students were registered for the new academic session in NUMed Malaysia.

The students came from all over the nation, including those sponsored by Mara and the Public Service Department (JPA).

Mara has sponsored 50 students over the past four years while the JPA has funded 31 students for the first time this year. From next year, NUmed Malaysia will offer the science matriculation programme. The masters and PhD programmes will follow suit.

"Only 20 students were admitted when NUMed Malaysia began offering its medical course in Nusajaya. They were taken to the United Kingdom first."

"In 2010, another 40 started their course in the United Kingdom and since 2011, the course has been fully held at the EduCity campus with almost 60 students," says Prof Jordan.

The student population at NUMed Malaysia is 229.

NUMed Malaysia has 12 lecturers from the United Kingdom while the other members of the academic staff are Malaysians. A number of them work in Johor Baharu hospitals, including the Sultan Ismail Hospital.