About University of Nottingham
Nottingham is ranked very credibly by both The Times Good University Guide 2006 (12th) and the Guardian University Guide (15th) for universities in the United Kingdom (UK). Hence, it is probably the best university from UK to set up either a franchise programme or a local campus in Malaysia. In accordance to my analysis of local twinning programmes with UK universities, the next best institutions are Northumbria and Oxford Brookes, ranked 48th and 53rd respectively by the Times Guide.
Nottingham describes itself as a "research-led", with work carried out at the university winning two Nobel Prizes in 2003. The university received a record GBP82 million in research contracts in 2003-4, placing it among the top four universities in terms of private funding.
In terms of the assessment of teaching quality, it is ranked best in classics and ancient history, economics, manufacturing engineering, politics and psychology. In terms courses which are popular with many Malaysian students, it is ranked:
- 7th for Accounting & Finance
- 4th for Architecture
- 16th for Biological Sciences
- 6th for Business Studies
- 12th for Chemical Engineering
- 4th for Civil Engineering
- 19th for Computer Science
- 6th for Economics
- 19th for Electrical & Electronic Engineering
- 7th for Law
- 7th for Mechanical Engineering
The Local Campus
The University of Nottingham is no doubt a quality institution and the only question is whether the local campus is reflective of such qualities. According to the Malaysian campus website:
The Malaysia Campus is a full and integral part of The University of Nottingham, UK and offers students the Nottingham experience in a Asean setting. It is a global institution serving an international community of students and yet is firmly rooted in all that is distinctive about UK education - innovative teaching and assessment methods, which encourage independent, creative thinking. Quality standards are also among the best in the world.In previous replies to the emails from students and readers, I've asked them to perform further checks on the local campus, particularly on the following information to help them make their decision. I have since obtained further information on some of these questions, and I've highlighted them accordingly below.
- Obtain confirmation that the degree certification is from University of Nottingham itself, and not from the "Malaysia Campus".
This, apparently is the case for certain Australian universities with a presence in Malaysia. In a written reply from the university, I've received confirmation that
that the University of Nottingham degree certificates do not classify the student as originating from the Malaysia Campus and is exactly the same as received by students in Nottingham. However, should there be any requests for references etc, if the degree was done in Malaysia, then all references would come from the Malaysia Campus.
- Obtain confirmation that the entry standards to the local campus is exactly the same as that of the UK campus.
Entry standards is typically a very accurate measure of the type of environment the university is seeking to promote. If the entry standards for the local campus is lower, you can safely deduce that the university is probably more interested in commercial returns than protecting it's quality. The degradation of entry standards have negatively affected many of the graduates from what I would regard as formerly reputable Australian universities.
In an interview with the Sun, Professor Brian Atkins, the vice-president of the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus has confirmed and emphasised that
[t]he main challenge is we have to develop the campus here without any negative impact on the reputation internationally. This means we can't and are not, substantially changing our courses to suit the local market. The entrance standards are the same, the level of English required to get on the course is identical. Academically, we want to maintain exactly the same standards.
- Find out from the University, the number of lecturers appointed from the UK campus versus locally appointed lecturers.
With all due respect to local lecturers, a healthy ratio of UK campus lecturers will demonstrate the university's willingness to defend the quality of its teaching and courses. There are colleges which claims and advertises to have lecturers from the main campus, but these lecturers are flown in to give only 2-3 lectures a year.
The Malaysia campus website has emphasised that "the majority of the senior academic staff are appointed from The University of Nottingham, UK. High calibre academic staff are also recruited from Malaysia and internationally."
Professor Brian Atkins also added that:
We have senior positions from the university here, me, and in all the schools, is a senior person from the university. This is to ensure what we do here is the same as what we do in Nottingham, UK. I've worked for Nottingham University for 30 over years. A colleague who's dean of engineering has been in Nottingham for over 20 years. Now we're down here. The venture here is thought to be so important that we are sending staff out from Nottingham, UK, to head the various units here.
- Obtain confirmation that the examinations and the award of degrees are standardised to ensure that there are no future discrimination in terms of the campus which a student graduates from.
In the same letter of reply from the Malaysia Campus, it was highlighted that
The students do not sit for the same exams, however all exam papers, both form the Malaysia Campus and the UK Campuses go to the same exam council to ensure equality of standards. Further, answer scripts are also sent to the UK.This is fair enough, as sitting for the same examination will involve major logistical complications. However, having the examination papers marked by the same exam council will give greater confidence to the quality standards.
- Check the state of facilities in the local campus, to ensure that they are of sufficient standards and qualities. Compare these facilities with other colleges. The campus is located in Semeyih. I've not seen it myself, but please visit the campus yourself to get a better feel of things.
Once again quoting Professor Atkins:
We've just invested RM110 million in this campus. It's designed to mirror the attributes of the main campus in Nottingham which is it's got space, not a city centre office block, except that it's warmer!
The facilities we can now offer are at least as good as those in the UK because virtually all the facilities are new. And we've got accommodation for 636 students on campus, and a kilometre down the road, for another 150.
...students can go for either one or two semesters in the UK. You can't be there during the first year, and you can't be there for the graduating year. So, if you're in a three-year course, it's the second year, or if it's a four-year course, it's the second or third year. They would pay Malaysian fees.Conclusion
Purely from the information that has been made available, and assuming their accuracy, the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus doesn't look like a bad choice. Nevertheless, there's never harm for the student to perform additional double-checking. My recommendation is, if you are a student looking to pursue further tertiary education at private colleges without going overseas, University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus will be the best bet (over say, the twinning programmes highlighted here).
However, if you are top student i.e., aggregates of less than 10 in SPM and at least 2-3As for your STPM or 'A' Levels, there's never harm doing yourself a favour by applying to the top 5 universities in the UK or the top 10 in the United States. Read blog post here on applications to Oxbridge in the UK. The worst case scenario is you get rejected and you can then evaluate the best options locally.
For more information about the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, browse their website, review their prospectus and read the full interview with Professor Brian Atkins. Also, check out this page for more information on available scholarships