Quality foreign education in pandemic times


  • Branded
  • Monday, 03 Aug 2020

The majestic Putrajaya Lake presents students with a fabulous view while studying at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia

THE Covid-19 pandemic has to be the first widespread pandemic in the modern era to have disrupted progress at all levels across the entire globe.

It has impacted economies around the world, crippled most thriving industries and even killed off businesses that depend on the physical presence of customers.

As schools and campuses are particularly vulnerable when there is a rise in epidemics, it comes as no surprise that these establishments were directed to cease operations to stem the spread of Covid-19.

But education, if stopped for too long, can show negative social and economic effects in society in the long run and can be deemed an essential. It is however an unfortunate but unavoidable consequence during times of emergencies.

In fact, some agencies or organisations are arguing that education should be considered an essential service.

An article calling for teaching to be considered an essential service written by the Global Partnership for Education chief executive officer Alice Albright and Education International general secretary David Edwards, makes the case for education to resume as soon as possible.

They wrote: “The longer schools are closed, the harder it is for children to stay engaged and the greater the risk that the poorest and most marginalised will drop out altogether.

“This has lifelong consequences: The World Bank estimates that the cost of lost learning for this generation of students may already exceed US$10tril in lost future earnings.”

And now that Malaysia is in the fourth month since the movement control order was declared by the Government and although we are experiencing a gradual opening of schools and higher learning institutions, the fear of contracting the virus still lingers.

With many countries such as the UK still combatting the pandemic, Malaysian students who plan to pursue their tertiary education abroad would have to defer their plans indefinitely.

Although this spells bad news, it also ushers in many other alternative opportunities – one of which is studying in a locally based foreign institution like Heriot Watt University Malaysia.

World’s first Mechanics Institute

Established as the world’s first Mechanics Institute in 1821 in Edinburgh, Scotland, Heriot Watt University has since garnered a prodigious history, as it is highly ranked across key university league tables.

Recently it was placed among the top 300 universities worldwide by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020,314th in the world, 38th in the UK and seventh in Scotland by the QS World University Rankings 2020. It is also the 35th in the UK and sixth in Scotland by the Complete University Guide 2020, among others.

The university has an expansive global outlook that is demonstrated by its longstanding dedication towards providing the highest standards in education to students around the world.

The university is thus poised to be an excellent choice for those who aim to study overseas, but whose plans were upset by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 1.9ha lakeside Heriot-Watt University Malaysia campus provides a gateway to the university’s many international campuses around the world.

Study and see the world

As early as the 1990s, Heriot-Watt pioneered a distance-learning programme that allowed students all over the world to study for a Heriot-Watt University degree.

In 2004, the university branched out of the UK with a Dubai campus, the first overseas campus in the Dubai International Academic City and by 2011, it opened its first purpose-built campus.

Then in 2014, the university spearheaded a purpose-built Malaysian campus – Heriot-Watt University Malaysia (HWUM) – in Putrajaya, to cater to the rising intake of international students that hail from the Asian region.

In order to make this 1.9ha state-of-the-art lakeside campus the first “green campus” in the country, about £35mil was invested in the development.

HWUM’s well-equipped library is one of the many resources avenues for students.

HWUM offers foundation courses, undergraduate and postgraduate-level programmes in Accounting, Actuarial Science, Business, Construction Management, Data Science, Energy, Engineering, Enterprise, Finance, Human Resource Management, Marketing, Project Management, Psychology, Quantity Surveying and Renewable Energy.

Even now, a HWUM student can revisit the wish of studying overseas and fulfil that dream, as the university guarantees flexible campus transfers to its Dubai or the main one in Edinburgh whenever the current situation improves.

With its truly global campuses, the academics function as a team and deliver the same courses with the same content across all campuses, therefore enabling students to be able to travel and study without interruptions.

All Heriot Watt University campuses the world over now follow the newly implemented Responsive Blended Learning, a flexible approach that lets students begin their academic year on schedule, wherever they are in the world.

The academic year would begin with high-quality online support and learning, appropriate for times like these. However as health and wellbeing conditions improve, more face-to-face activity will be integrated back into the programmes at all its campuses.

Students who had planned to study locally would still benefit from the university’s global outlook as they can still teach, learn and socialise with students from around the world.

Cutting-edge learning methods

HWUM has also integrated technology that allows students to track their progress real-time, via analytics. They have direct access to their own performance and where they stand so they can better manage their study activities.

Similarly, most of HWUM’s learning activities are online, making it easier for students to take full control. All these data are secure and non-intrusive.

In 2017, HWUM introduced the Positive Education approach to nurture purposeful, impactful, professional and resilient individuals through holistic development.

This takes the form of two extracurricular activities, the EmPOWER programme, which encourages students to hone their soft skills and a youth transformation programme called Fit For Future, which forms part of the freshman orientation and helps students identify and achieve their full potential in their creativity, innovation, critical thinking and communication.

The Fit For Future programme has made great strides online in the last two foundation intakes.

A visit to the Malaysian campus in person will let you discover HWUM’s flexible pathways that are made available to you during these troubling times.

As HWUM’s on-campus Open Day is back in full swing this August 15 and 16, albeit with physical distancing measures, you are invited to come view the exhibition, speak with academics, attend academic talks and tour the campus in Putrajaya.

For more information on the programmes, about the flexible campus transfers and to tour the campus virtually in 360°, go to www.hw.edu.my.

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