Japan varsities eye Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Japan’s Educa­tion Ministry has amended its policy to allow for its universities to set up branch campuses overseas, and Malaysia will likely be the first country to have a Tsukuba Univer­sity branch.

Japanese Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Makio Miyagawa (pic) said as a policy, Japanese universities had never established any overseas branch campuses before, but this was changed recently following a request from Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“Our Ministry of Education decided to meet the request from Tun Dr Mahathir and has already amended its regulations,” he told Bernama.

Dr Miyagawa added that the response among various Japanese universities had been fairly positive so far.

But the most positive was Tsu­kuba University, he said.

“The state-owned university is one of Japan’s oldest and has also produced Nobel Prize laureates,” he said.

He said one issue which had to be tackled concerned the university’s status as an institution which operates with substantial government subsidies.

Fees at the state-owned universities are reasonable and offer equal opportunities to the best and brightest from both rich and poor families.

“Tsukuba University is eager to set up a branch campus in Malaysia, but it needs the support of the private or public sector in Malaysia to provide land and facilities,” he said.

There is also uncertainty over how many Malaysian or South-East Asian students will be allowed to enter the university and whe­ther scholarships will be available if fees are increased.

According to Dr Miyagawa, setting up the campus required collaboration with the Malaysian government.

He said at least 16,000 Malaysians had studied in Japan aided by government scholarships, but there were far more Malaysians who had studied there on their own.

He said he had met many of the alumni who had contributed diligently to nation building in Malaysia.

“This gives us in Japan a great pleasure and honour.

“Malaysia has already grown up and developed from a resource-dependent economy to a service-centred and technology-driven economy,” he said.