Global perspectives in academic pursuits

Liu (left) and Li (right) with their mentor, UTAR’s Faculty of Business and Finance Dean, Assoc Prof Dr Au Yong Hui Nee.Liu (left) and Li (right) with their mentor, UTAR’s Faculty of Business and Finance Dean, Assoc Prof Dr Au Yong Hui Nee.

TWO exceptional scholars, Li Yaoyu and Liu Zhaolan, have travelled far from their native China in pursuit of academic excellence in Malaysia.

Hailing from Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics (JUFE), China, these international students have embarked on a journey to broaden their intellectual horizons by pursuing the Master of Philosophy programme at University Tunky Abdul Rahman (UTAR)’s Faculty of Business and Finance (FBF).

Broadening horizons

Motivated by a desire to explore new research methodologies and educational environments, Li sought opportunities in the Malaysian setting.

Despite having never ventured abroad before, she had always been curious about Malaysian culture, and considers herself fortunate to have the opportunity to pursue her master's degree at UTAR’s FBF.

“I also hope to discuss different issues with scholars in different social environmental contexts, since the master’s degree system and curriculum here are very different,” she adds.

Studying abroad in Malaysia has provided Li with the opportunity to broaden her worldview and discover a variety of learning and research opportunities, explore new fields of interest and expand her range of capabilities as a researcher.

“I will probably have more tolerance towards academic fields that I have never been exposed to in my future study and even life, which will lead me to focus more on my strength and creativity, and subsequently be more imaginative in my study and research,” she notes.

Expanding horizons nevertheless comes with a fair share of cultural and linguistic challenges. Li found Malaysian culture intriguing and sought to discover more, especially in the academic aspect, despite facing a language barrier.

“My cultural tolerance is relatively strong. Besides, the academic and cultural differences between Malaysia and China are not particularly large, so I understand and respect them.

“I think the potential challenge of conducting research in Malaysia is the language. It is a bit difficult because most literature and books are in English. However, this is also a process of improving language skills, and I can gradually adapt to it,” says Li.

Global adaptability

Liu, on the other hand, was captivated by the academic and cultural diversity present among Malaysians.

As a student deeply interested in investment, financial markets, and capital operations, Liu was particularly drawn to UTAR's master's programme in business and finance.

She wanted to gain an in-depth understanding of areas such as marketing and consumer behaviour, as well as supply chain management on an international level – making the programme a perfect fit for her aspirations.

“The mix of ideas from diverse cultural backgrounds at UTAR not only attracted me, but also allowed me to experience the beauty of cross-cultural exchanges in the academic world.

“At the same time, FBF generally includes international business courses, allowing me to broaden my global perspective by understanding the global business environment, international marketing strategies, and multinational enterprise management,” says Liu.

Studying in the global environment serves as a way to broaden Liu’s range of skills, and achieve her career aspiration to become a university academic.

“Studying abroad is beneficial for people like me whose long-term career goal is to become a university academic. I can learn advanced academic methods and scientific research skills, and apply them to future academic practices to strengthen education quality and impact.

“At the same time, I can develop global vision and cross-communication skills, which help me to adapt to the educational environments and mingle with student groups from diverse economies and regions,” adds Liu.

Liu notes that she was met with culture shock, language barriers, and diverse academic styles. Despite that, she flourished as she learned to assimilate local cultures and languages into her academic journey at UTAR.

“I tried to learn more about Malaysian cultures and values as a show of respect to the locals. During my research attachment period, I participated in various cultural events by UTAR such as the Deepavali celebration and the Chinese New Year celebration.

“I got to experience different customs and ways of celebrating various festivals, allowing me to learn about other cultures. I also became a member of a gym near UTAR, meeting new friends and learning a lot of fitness knowledge,” Liu says.

Fostering open-mindedness, empathy, mutual understanding, critical thinking, and cross-cultural learning may very well be a catalyst to ignite a spark for new passions and opportunities.

Some may find it interesting, and others may find it perplexing; it is nonetheless an inspiring process for the two students who are away from their homeland.

UTAR offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in areas including Accountancy, Actuarial Science, Applied Mathematics, Arts, Chinese Studies, Malaysia Studies, Business and Economics, Biotechnology, Engineering and Build Environment, Information and Communication Technology, Life and Physical Sciences, Medicine and Health Sciences, Media and Journalism, Education and General Studies, and Agriculture and Food Science.

The university also engages in the provision and conduct of research, consultation, management and leadership training, and other related educational services at its Sungai Long and Kampar Campuses in Malaysia.

Visit UTAR’s Open Day on June 1-2, 8-9 and 15-16 from 9am to 5pm at both Kampar and Sungai Long campuses. For more information, please visit or call 05-468 8888 (Kampar Campus), 03-9086 0288 (Sungai Long Campus).

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