A successful partnership turns 15

WORKING with the right partner, one which has the same goals and vision is a recipe for mutual success.

Celebrating its 15th anniversary, the Sunway-Lancaster partnership is one of the most successful transnational higher educational partnerships in the world.

Sunway University and Lancaster University first entered into a partnership back in 2006, with the ambition of enabling Sunway University students to receive a Lancaster degree alongside their Sunway degree.

Only at Sunway University, you can pay for one programme and receive two degrees; one from Sunway University and Lancaster University.

Now boasting over 8,000 alumni, the partnership has grown from humble beginnings, with just six students in the first graduating cohort in 2008 - a journey that in many ways parallels that of Sunway City itself, which has grown from a wasteland to the thriving city it is today.

Students at Sunway University have the opportunity to study at Lancaster University UK campus through its 1+2 transfer, study abroad and summer programmes where applicable.

One of the outstanding elements of the Sunway-Lancaster partnership is not just its scale, but also the strength and depth of the partnership.

This was one of the key factors in Lancaster University – consistently ranked in the top 10 UK universities and the top 140 globally – being named as International University of the Year by the Times and the Sunday Times Good University Guide in 2020.

Sunway University provost Prof Peter Heard shares: “Having worked in the UK for many years before joining Sunway University, I have had the opportunity to see, from both sides, the differing nature of international higher educational partnerships, and the partnership with Lancaster is certainly the strongest and most well developed I have seen.

“The first thing that struck me when I arrived in Sunway was how different things were. Sunway and Lancaster staff were in everyday contact, discussing the content or programmes, teaching and learning strategies and sharing best practice, including joint staff development programmes.

“In 2012 our two universities signed a new memorandum, extending not just the partnership duration but also greatly expanding its nature to include postgraduate programmes and joint research collaborations.

“Research is important because the best academic staff want to do research and students benefit from not only being taught by research-active staff, but also from participating in research projects and learning about the very latest advancements in the field,” he says.

Sunway staff who did not yet have doctoral degrees were given the opportunity to undertake PhDs at Lancaster University, further strengthening those early research collaborations, and Masters by research students could undertake jointly supervised projects and receive jointly awarded qualifications.

Buoyed by the successes of the partnership, a new agreement was signed in 2017, extending the partnership for a further 10 years. This also further extended the range of collaborations and saw the establishment of a joint research institute, the Future Cities Research Institute.

The Rt Hon Alan Milburn and Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Jeffrey Cheah at opening of FCRIThe Rt Hon Alan Milburn and Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Jeffrey Cheah at opening of FCRI

“Far from being diminished by the outbreak of Covid-19, through the partnership we have sought new ways of working collectively to ensure we adapt quickly and effectively to support our students in these challenging times,” says Prof Heard.

“The pandemic has accelerated the use of technology in teaching and learning, and opened up new and exciting avenues for collaboration and sharing. Together with Lancaster we are actively looking at how we can maximise the opportunities to better support our students.

Most educational partnerships never reach the heights of the Sunway-Lancaster partnership. So, as we reflect on 15 years of collaboration, I believe there is much to be proud of and celebrate, which we hope to do in person just as soon it is possible and much to look forward to over the coming years.”

Lancaster University vice chancellor Prof Andy Schofield comments: “We are very proud of our partnership with Sunway University. We have worked together fruitfully for 15 years and our partnership has achieved much in the area of teaching and learning, which we aim to grow and develop further.

“We are also building our research collaborations through joint staff appointments, research projects and research funding bids. Sunway and Lancaster have established a joint research institute dealing with the future of cities.

“This exciting initiative will build on Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah’s visionary work in the field of sustainability, further enhancing and strengthening the partnership.”

Find out more about available programmes at Sunway University here.

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