THERE was a vision to have six key sectors incorporated when the Iskandar Malaysia project was first launched – healthcare, leisure and tourism, financial services, logistics, creative sector and education.
Educity was created to fulfil the education portfolio of this development project, says Iskandar Investment Berhad (IIB) president and chief executive officer Datuk Khairil Anwar Ahmad.
He says the next step was to decide which educational institutions will be part of Educity.
“But we wanted the chosen institutions to become a ‘feeder’ of talent for the various sectors of Iskandar Malaysia,” he adds.
Not only did they want higher learning institutions to produce talented graduates in those fields (of healthcare, leisure and tourism, financial services, logistics and creative sector), they also had to be among the best in the world for those sectors, he explains.
That was how Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia became the first foreign university to open a branch back in 2011.
“I thought we could supplement the other disciplines by bringing in faculties from other, top performing, universities,” he adds.
Since then, another six higher learning institutes have opened branches in Educity – University of Southampton Malaysia Campus, University of Reading Malaysia, Multimedia University, Raffles University Iskandar, Netherlands Maritime Institute of Technology and Kolej MDIS Malaysia - have opened campuses on the 1.21 square kilometres (300-acre) land.
There are also two international schools – Marlborough College Malaysia and Raffles American School.
Khairil says The Management Development Institute of Singapore will open its doors in the middle of 2018.
“So, we have different universities from different parts of the world offering courses in one location.
“The multi-varsity concept with universities from different parts of the world is what makes Educity one-of-a-kind.”
Although they envisioned graduates from these universities working in Iskandar Malaysia to grow and develop it to become the most developed region in the south of the peninsular, the graduates are in no way confined to working just within Iskandar Malaysia, he points out.
“The more learned and educated talent that comes out of Educity, the better it is for Iskandar Malaysia and for the region.
“It also gives students in the region the opportunity to get an international education.”
“The quality of the institutions here is the same as the home country and these are not franchised programmes,” he says, stressing that these are full-fledged branch campuses of the respective universities.
Students here also pay less in terms of fees and cost of living, compared to studying at the main campus overseas, says Khairil.
He adds that IIB has been working with its sister companies to create more jobs in Iskandar Puteri (within Iskandar Malaysia).
“More employment opportunities are being created, so that is good news for the universities. They can tell their graduates that there are jobs coming up in this area.”
“PEMANDU also recognises Educity as one of their Entry Point Projects (EPP) for the Economic Transformation Programme,” he adds.
Khairil says that all the institutions use the same shared services which include a stadium and student accommodation, among others.
Their Student Village can accommodate up to 745 students and houses students from all the institutions and it is a “very multicultural and multi-varsity concept.”
“In fact, in 2016, we found out that British students studying in Reading UK wanted to spend a year in the Malaysia campus,” he adds.
He says these students felt that it would give them a more global experience to spend time abroad but still be able to study in their own university.
On top of the student accommodation, there is the EduCity Sports Complex which houses a 6,000-seat main stadium with a full-size football pitch, athletics track, and a 488-seat Aquatic Centre with an eight-lane Olympic-sized swimming pool.
There is also 1,500-seat Indoor Arena has multi-purpose courts that can be used for basketball, badminton, netball, floorball, futsal and table tennis games, and a gymnasium.
“oBikes have also been provided on the grounds of the shared facilities and even at the various institutions to promote a low carbon environment on campus.
“At quite an affordable rate students may now travel short distances within campus on bicycles,” he adds.
The oBike is Malaysia’s first and largest dockless smart bikesharing company that allows commuters to travel via bicycles.
There are plans to enhance the amenities and facilities for the students within Educity including building more student accommodation and improving on wifi connectivity, he continues.
“We really hope that Educity becomes the preferred destination for higher education in the region and that people will recognise Educity as a brand for good quality, affordable education,” Khairil says regarding the long term plans for Educity.
“I believe Educity has a lot of potential, I believe we’re offering quality courses, I believe we have a good DNA for education because of the diversity and location but we can always improve.”