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Saturday March 28, 2009

Limkokwing spreading its wings globally

Limkokwing University, with its distinctive logo of white letters against a black background, comes to mind when one talks about creativity and design education.

Limkokwing the brand is not only famous in the education industry but also a big name in the world of advertising and communications.

Limkokwing the man is Tan Sri Lim Kok Wing, the founder and president of Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, the official name of the institution.

“Yes, I use my name for the institute. You will ask why,” he tells this reporter.

The journey to the creation of Limkokwing University started in 1990 when Lim established an unconventional college with focus on developing the creative thinking of its students.

Tan Sri Lim Kok Wing says the university is looking to open a campus in the United States

Lim recalls that several “generic type” names were tested for his college but the research company he hired also suggested for Lim to test his name.

“When the results came back, the research company said, Why don’t you use your name because people already know you?. And that’s how we got started,” he tells StarBizWeek.

As for the black and white corporate colours, he says: “I noticed many friends who are writers or artists like to wear either black or white. If you pay attention to it, you will see that too.”

In 1992, Limkokwing Institute of Creative Technology took in its pioneer batch of 200 students and the number of intakes grew from year to year.

Between 2001 and 2003, Limkokwing Institute received several industry excellence awards from entities such as the International Trade and Industry Ministry and the Education Ministry. In early 2003, it was granted university college status and a year later, launched its campus in Cyberjaya.

Today, at its Cyberjaya campus, Limkokwing University has 9,000 students, of whom 65% are foreigners from 135 countries. “We are not huge but we are the most globalised university in the country,” Lim notes.

Lately, if you glance through the advertisements in the newspapers or drive on highways in the Klang Valley, you may notice huge advertisements on Limkokwing London.

Yes, Limkokwing University has spread its wings overseas to other parts of Asia, Africa and Europe.

Lim says it was his intention to train more talented people for the design and advertising industry when he first set up Limkokwing Institute.

This was because he found there were very few capable people in the sector when he was appointed president of the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Malaysia (4As) many years ago.

“When I was the 4As president, I started training people for the industry. And I said to myself, When I have the time, I will set up a training centre. When I started it, it was only for Malaysians,” he says.

After opening the Cyberjaya campus, Lim went on to bring Malaysian education overseas, setting up the country’s first full-fledged offshore university in May 2007 in Goborone, the capital of Botswana, in Africa.

In October 2007, Limkokwing University opened a campus in London. Last year, it set up two more campuses in Botswana and another in Lesotho, Africa.

In Asia, it has a campus each in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and Bali, Indonesia, and a strategic partnership with two China’s elite institutions – Tsinghua University and Peking University – in Beijing.

With the opening of more overseas campuses, Limkokwong University recently introduced the concept of Global Classroom where students can transfer to as many countries as they want so that they can experience the cultures of different campuses.

“We will create more universities on our own and establish more partnerships worldwide,” Lim says.

He plans to open another campus in Indonesia and more campuses in Africa, and has started to explore the United States.

Globally, Limkokwing University now has 25,000 students from 144 countries.

“I hope that within 10 years, we will reach one million students. You can’t have one million on campus but you can have one million students if you have a lot of them doing online courses,” he adds.

Limkokwing University has faculties in multimedia creativity, design innovation, architecture and the built environment, communications, media and broadcasting, business management and globalisation, information and communications technology, as well as sound and music design.

It plans to launch new programmes, including online and mobile, within two years.

“Now, we are designing mobile content programmes, video production on mobile and so on. We are preparing our students to migrate from computer to mobile phone,” Lim says, adding that in the future, all one needs is a mobile phone to do business anywhere in the world.

You will not even need a laptop, he reckons. “So, we are preparing for that day,” he says.

Limkokwing University has four intakes per year with an average of 500 students per intake.

“We have been growing steadily. This year, we will still grow despite the current (tough) economic situation.

“The downturn has not affected us so far. But if the global recession prolongs, it will affect student intake. They will stay home,” he says.


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