October 16, 2015, by David Greenaway
15th Anniversary of The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus
2015 marks the 15th Anniversary of The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus. At the 15th Anniversary Dinner, held in Kuala Lumpur in September 2015, I gave the following address celebrating this significant milestone in the University’s history.
Your Royal Highnesses, distinguished guests, colleagues and friends: a very warm welcome to this evening’s celebration of accomplishment, achievement and partnership. It is uplifting to see so many here tonight, and I thank you all.
Your Royal Highnesses, you honour us with your presence at this special celebration.
On this same Saturday in September in 2010, I delivered an address at a dinner, also in Kuala Lumpur, to mark the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC). That seems like yesterday. Yet, here we are, celebrating our 15th birthday.
UNMC was the product of an auspicious alignment of ambitions. In the late 1990s the Malaysian Government laid out in its Vision 2020 Strategy, an ambition to be the hub for international higher education in South East Asia. At the same time, the University of Nottingham was developing a strategy to internationalise in a bold and innovative way, not just by bringing talented international students to the UK (including many Malaysians, more than 600 currently) but by also by embedding a Nottingham education in another part of the world.
With the strong support of Government and determination and commitment of the partners, UNMC opened its doors to its first 78 students in September 2000 in the old MISC building here in Kuala Lumpur. From that modest beginning, we have grown to a multi-faculty University of 5,000 students on our own iconic purpose built Campus in Semenyih; we are delivering high quality undergraduate and postgraduate programmes; we have internationally competitive research capacity; and our staff and students give much to the communities around us. We are delivering on our commitment to be elite but inclusive.
That we have become a key player in Malaysia’s higher education sector in just 15 years is testimony to the strength of the partnership between the University of Nottingham and Boustead Berhad, and the support Government has given us. But above all, it is testimony to the quality of our students and the sustained industry and commitment of our staff.
It is absolutely right that we do what we are doing this evening, celebrating our past. But, it is even more important that we plan our future. And that future, under the leadership of Professor Christine Ennew and her team, looks very promising, for many reasons.
First, Universities are places of transformation; enduring institutions, central to creating and sustaining social capital. So our commitment is long term, and our perspective is long term.
Second, we are at the heart of ASEAN, which were it a single entity, would be the seventh largest economy in the world. That offers exciting opportunities for regional leadership in talent development and innovation here at the heart of the 21st century’s most important continent.
Third, our research talent can address key challenges facing Malaysia and the region, like tropical environmental sustainability, sustainable food security, and Islamic business and finance;
And finally, we are part of a truly global University and our presence in Malaysia, China and the UK means that together we can help find solutions to this generation’s grand challenges, like food security, energy sustainability and harnessing the astonishing potential offered by new technology, all of which are global challenges.
UNMC sets the standard for innovation in global higher education and you cannot innovate without taking risks. When I made my 10th anniversary address, I spoke about the risks we all took: the Malaysian Government took a risk on an untried educational model; our partners took a risk on financial sustainability; the University of Nottingham took a reputational risk with a global brand. And I know that Government, our partners and the University of Nottingham all feel fully vindicated in having taken those risks, we have created a special place with special people.
But the biggest risk of all was taken by our first cohorts of students. They were risking their future. And you cannot have a University without students. So, I want to conclude by thanking those early generations of our students, now our alumni, for taking that risk, for trusting us to deliver what we said we would deliver. You above all should feel proud of what you started, and what UNMC has become.
Professor Sir David Greenaway