AS one of the top-ranked universities in the United Kingdom, University of Reading is well known for its academic excellence and multidisciplinary research efforts.
Established in 1926 and having opened its first state-of-the-art multi-disciplinary branch campus in Educity, Iskandar Puteri, Johor, in 2015, the university has an international reputation for outstanding teaching and research.
Now, its recently appointed vice-chancellor, Professor Robert Van de Noort, plans to add another accomplishment to the university’s credentials – to be recognised as one of the greenest universities in the UK.
“When I say greenest, it is not just about the campus, aesthetically, or the sustainable efforts revolving the institution, but paving the way in green research such as in climate change and environmental management.
“As we gain more insight through the research, we are also able to give back to the community by helping them adapt to these environmental changes, so it is helping the Earth while at the same time empowering the community, ” Van de Noort told The Star after the Provost Scholars Recognition Ceremony held at University of Reading Malaysia (UoRM) here.
The university’s Whiteknights campus had been voted seven years in a row as one of the best green spaces in the UK for its 130ha of beautiful parkland by the Green Flag People’s Choice Awards.
The university has also achieved its 35% carbon reduction target in 2016 and has now set a new target at 45% reduction of carbon emissions by 2021. However, Van De Noort’s foresight for the future of the university runs much further than green built environment and sustainable practices.
‘We are very happy with what we have done here at the Malaysian campus and will continue to look into opportunities to bring more quality programmes to the students in this region, ’ said Van De Noort.
“We want to be the forerunner in research where the findings can be used to create awareness in the community, which in turns helps them make better lifestyle choices which impact the world positively where climate change is concerned.
“There are vast opportunities in agriculture and food production to be more environmentally sustainable and this is what we want to educate our students and society about, ” he explained.
On the future plans of the university, Van De Noort said the administration always kept an open mind with the programmes offered to ensure it was being carried out according to the industry’s demand.
He said, for example, at UoRM, the new law programme which started in September had a encouraging response from the public, with a first intake of 21 students.
“We have no plans to open up new campuses whether in Malaysia or elsewhere, but over time we will look to expand the portfolio of programmes we have on our campuses and grow our existing transnational education partnerships such as the one we have in China and South Africa.
“We are very happy with what we have done here at the Malaysian campus and will continue to look into opportunities to bring more quality programmes to the students in this region, ” he added.
Van De Noort, who assumed the vice-chancellor position six months ago, said the university was also looking at other ways to contribute back to society, such as the possibility of introducing a law clinic where students could gain experience and at the same time, provide a platform for the community to seek help and advice.
During the Provost Scholars Recognition Ceremony, a total of 17 students were presented with recognition plaques.
The scholars are high achieving foundation and undergraduate students who received scholarships covering 100% of their programme fees.
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