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Asia e University Pushing Malaysia's Higher Education Agenda Forward

6 April 2011 (TIOS Daily Digest) - Private sector education in Malaysia has traditionally played a key role in supporting the delivery in education initiatives in the country and with education set to play a key role in the next decade of growth the story is no different.

The government has targeted a total GNI contribution of RM60.7 billion by 2020 from a starting point of RM27.1 billion in 2009. As public sector growth is expected to be limited, this goal will require a substantial contribution from the private sector.

TIOS Group interviewed Professor Dato’ Dr. Ansary Ahmed, CEO of Asia e University, in April to discuss the substantial contribution his organization is making to raise the international profile of Malaysia as an education hub.

Asia e University was established in 2009 on the request of the Asia Cooperation Dialog primarily for the development human capital in Asia. The university allows students to study full time, study online or fuse the two study modes as best fits the student.

The university has looked at the common trends across Asia in terms of culture, practices and businesses and has sought to leverage the strength of those linkages to bring the Asian growth story to education.

“We have developed programs which we think are relevant for the people of Asia,” said Dr. Ansary in an interview with TIOS Group.

However, Dr. Ansary sees education as borderless and has not limited growth potential to Asia.

“We believe that education is borderless - that learning is borderless - and we should be engaged as much in the non-Asia country as we are in the Asia country. We are well positioned in terms of the Asian market but the question now is: how can we bring this story, this experience to other parts of the world?” said Dr. Ansary.

Asia e University will be vital to Malaysia’s positioning as an education hub. Malaysia is currently the 11th largest exporter of education globally thanks to its strong value-for-money proposition and innovative transnational programmes, such as those offered by Asia e University. However, the rise of education hubs such as China, Singapore, Thailand and Qatar threatens Malaysia’s position globally and increases the importance of universities like Asia e University.

Malaysia currently has three major players in the online education space namely, Asia e University, Wawasan University and Open University. These leaders have helped to provide Malaysia with a strong starting base to develop a gateway into the regional market.

Distance learning, particularly online diplomas and tertiary degrees, is a globally booming market. Asia has seen an average growth rate of 12 percent year-over-year in the past 10 years and this trend is expected to continue as countries push to raise enrolment at the post-secondary level. While multiple countries in the region have pushed to establish their own education hubs no single university has as of yet succeeded at building a dominant global presence leaving the door open for Malaysian players.

“As a multinational institution we are well position to complete globally,” said Dr. Ansary adding, “as a country, we are now number 11 as a destination for higher education in the world with something like 75,000 students from around the world here in Malaysia and the target is for us to become number 6 by 2015. To get there we will need to more than double our student numbers.”

Asia e University is pushing the Malaysia position forward as a global provider and hub for higher education and with contributions from universities such as Asia e University in terms of in bound student as well as outbound distance learning programs, those targets may well be firmly within reach.

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