Reconnecting with alumni


  • Education
  • Sunday, 30 Apr 2017

Guests helping themselves to some food during the event.

THE University of Kent has 16 subjects ranked in the latest edition of the QS World University Rankings by Subject.

The World University Rankings by Subject, compiled by QS Quacquarelli Symonds which produces the annual QS World University Rankings, highlights the world’s top universities for the study of 46 different subjects – the A to Z of university performance evaluation.

Deputy vice-chancellor (education) Prof April McMahon said the institution was also ranked in the The Times Higher Education Alma Mater Index (Global Executives) 2017.

The Alma Mater Index ranks universities by the number of their graduates who are chief executive officers of the world’s largest companies.

Prof McMahon was speaking about the university’s recent successes during its alumni reunion event held last Tuesday.

“The university has approximately 1,400 alumni in Malaysia and about 250 Malaysian students currently studying at its campus in Canterbury, who are registered on a wide range of programmes of study.

“As a university, we think there is a real virtue in having an international outlook as a university.

Johari (in purple), Prof McMahon (in beige) and Prof Vickerman (in blue tie) mingle with other guests at the alumni event.
Johari (in purple), Prof McMahon (in beige) and Prof Vickerman (in blue tie) mingle with other guests at the alumni event.

“About 40% of our staff and researchers as well as 27% of our student body are from outside the United Kingdom.

“We do feel that there is a genuine international community (in the varsity) and there is a real welcome for students and staff from all around the world,” she said.

Prof McMahon said the alumni provides the varsity with invaluable support by organising events and supporting new students among a host of other things.

She said in June last year, the University of Kent signed a memorandum of understanding with Universiti Malaya (UM), one of its partner universities. UM will help Kent develop a collaboration across a number of areas.

The varsity also has an agreement with Sunway University.

“The agreement with Sunway allows its students to study the first part of their degree here and the second part in our School of Mathematics, Statistics and Actuarial Science,” she added.

The varsity also has links with Taylor’s University and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.

Joining the varsity last September, Prof McMahon’s goal is to visit the University of Kent’s partner varsities.

“Nothing compares to a face to face conversation as well as reconnecting with the alumni community.

Describing Malaysians as friendly, Prof McMahon said: “It’s a place where we know we have a real engagement with our alumni community, so, the long term goal is to keep our alumni feeling that they still belong to the Kent family.”

She said that as the deputy vice-chancellor, she teaches although not as much.

“When you are in a leadership role, it is difficult to be in the same place at the same time every week. So, I tend to do more guest classes but I am supervising some undergraduate dissertations this year,” she said, adding that her interest is in English Language and Linguistics.

Prior to joining Kent, she worked in other institutions such as the University of Cambridge, University of Sheffield and Aberystwyth University, Wales.

Prof McMahon said her duties include exploring new partnerships.

“It is important for universities to be global and to work together because no university is big enough these days to do things on its own.

“Everybody recognises the virtues of partnerships, so that is important for us too.”

Organised since 2011, more than 140 people including alumni and colleagues from partner universities and other organisations attended the alumni event at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur.

Also present was University of Kent Malaysia Alumni Association president Datuk Johari Razak.

“Alumni dinners are always a happy occasion to catch up with old friends and talk about old times.

“I have seen changes - when I was in Kent, there were only about 10 students from Malaysia.

“Now, there are about 250 students and maybe in 10 years from now, there will be 400 students.

“Nothing stands still. Times bring about changes,” said Johari who graduated with a Law degree from Kent in 1975.

Yeoh Xin Huey, 24, completed her undergraduate studies in actuarial science and a master’s in applied actuarial science at the university.

Yeoh described the campus as one of a kind, saying that students and faculty members were always willing to help.

After finishing her studies, Lum Yin Fong, 24, had the opportunity to work at the Walt Disney Company in London for a year.

“I studied accounting and finance with a year of industry exposure.

“It was a good experience, which taught me how to live independently,” she said, adding that she is still in touch with her friends from Kent.

Also present at the alumni dinner was dean for Europe Prof Roger Vickerman.

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