The proclamations were not at all modest, with the article headlined: "Major boost for higher education: Going big (Ivy) League".
This is the news that Malaysian parents have been waiting to hear: Malaysia is going to be home to a top-class medical university and business management institution, modelled on the famous Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.If it is true that Wharton is indeed coming to set up campus in Malaysia, that'll be great news. However, the fact is "the Government planned to set up a business management institute" (so it's a locally owned institution) and "the business management institution will involve a tie-up with Wharton Business School of University of Pennsylvania".
Besides providing more places for locals otherwise forced to venture abroad, these two institutions will also give the country’s ambitions of becoming a regional education hub a major fillip. It also signals a move by the administration to aggressively chase tie-ups with brand- name foreign universities.
Unfortunately, the nature of this "tie-up" is not elaborated in greater detail. Any tie-ups with an institution such as Wharton will be good for Malaysia. But before we go jumping about with joy ("what parents have been waiting for..."), shouldn't we at least obtain the necessary details of what this "tie-up" is about? Will it be about an annual one-month exchage of 2 academics? Or will it be the endorsement of the local certificates by Wharton?
The above announcement is made by our "Special Envoy to Higher Education Ministry", Datuk Seri Effendi Nawawi. There is also an interview with him available here, which don't provide any further details with regards to the "tie-up". At the same time, he continued to hint at some form of collaboration between our local universities and Cambridge University without providing any additional details.
These "tie ups" with the big name schools are in no doubt positive steps, albeit we have yet to determine, how exactly "big" the steps are. What is certain however, is that they don't yet deserve a screaming headline that Malaysia is going "Big (Ivy) League", and parents will need to with hold they joy for a while longer.
I'll follow with the promised examination of Singapore policy on attracting the world's top universities for comparative purposes in the next post.