TERTIARY institutions play a pivotal role in training the resources to help place the country on the global map of scientific breakthroughs.
One such institution is the Asian Institute of Medicine, Science and Technology (AIMST) which commenced its matriculation programmes in 2001 and its degree programmes in mid-March last year.
Established by the Maju Institute of Educational Development, the educational arm of the MIC, the private college met a stumbling block after its medical degree programme was halted as it had not obtained accreditation from the National Accreditation Board (LAN). Following an appeal, the programme was approved.
Back on track, big plans are underway for this institution, which has its interim campus in Sungai Petani, Kedah.
The institute is building a RM600mil campus in Semeling at the foothill of Gunung Jerai, Kedah, by middle of next year.
The 93ha campus with a 7,000-student capacity will house hostels, staff quarters, an administrative block, lecture halls, a sports stadium and an experimental theatre. There will also be a student complex with facilities, such as a bank, post office, bookshop, computer store and gymnasium. Work on the project is underway.
After the move, the interim campus in its rented premises will function as a branch to offer matriculation and other foundation courses, including the pre-medical programme, short courses and English classes.
AIMST offers degree programmes in medicine, biotechnology, computer science and information technology. Their respective curricula are mostly drawn from Britain’s University of Bristol.
Public hospitals in Alor Star, Sungai Petani, Sik, Yan and Jitra have been approved by the Health Ministry as teaching hospitals for the institute’s medical students.
The 80-strong teaching staff at AIMST will expand to some 350 by 2007, according to a staff projection report.
AIMST Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr V.G. Kumar Das says he is “working steadfastly to lay a solid foundation for AIMST as a high quality, research-based tertiary institution offering niche programmes, besides having strong and strategic links with the industry and overseas centres of excellence.
“It is our intention to produce graduates who possess not only high technical skills but analytical and communicative skills.
“With English being the medium of instruction here, AIMST will spare no effort in providing a solid foundation for those who are weak in it.”
Apart from English, he says, students will also have to take other compulsory modules designed to foster the growth of personal values. These include courses that promote motivation, creativity, civic consciousness, cultural appreciation and respect for diversity.
The institute plans to start re-cruiting foreign students from the Middle East, India and China this year, Prof Kumar adds.
What students say
Medical student K. Sakthiaseelan says he was offered a place in a public university to study biology, but opted to do medicine at AIMST instead.
”I have no regrets. The lecturers here are so friendly that there’s no generation gap between us,” says the 22-year-old who hails from Ipoh.
Penang-born Benjamin Chow, 20, left his expatriate parents in Shanghai to pursue a medical degree at the institute. He aspires to be a paediatrician.
Matriculation student V. Balamurugan, 18, says there is less distraction studying in a small town like Sungai Petani.
“Although I come from busy Kuala Lumpur, I am used to life here where I go from hostel to campus and back to hostel every day,” he adds.