06 June 2008

Follow-up: Japan and Malaysia to establish a joint university of technology

On 4 February 2008 the Japan HEO Blog ran an article on the proposed Malaysia-Japan International University of Technology.

(See: Japan and Malaysia to establish a joint university of technology )

Here is a follow-up to that story--the latest news from Bernama, Malaysia's official news agency. PM Abdullah was on a recent visit to Japan and on 24 May announced that Japan will provide yen loans and teachers.

Although this is reported to be a new development, this would actually seem to be something more like a disappointing step back on the Japanese side. Before, the talk had been of co-administration and funding, not just loans.

It is going to take hundreds of millions of dollars and a stable endowment to establish a new international university of technology. But accpeting such a burden might have little appeal in Japan because most Japanese students would be ill-prepared and reluctant to enroll in such an institution. It must be very difficult within the Japanese government, bogged down for over a decade in troubled finances, to justify the necessary financial commitment.

This proposed university would seem to be more the vision of Malaysia's former long-serving PM, Dr. Mahathir. It most likely would take someone with his independence, vision and stature to get back on track the project to create the Malaysia-Japan International University of Technology.

Such a revival of effort is well worth thinking about. There is an enormous potential for benefits to both countries. First, Japan's higher education sector could learn how to internationalize its approach to administration and business operations by having a presence overseas. Second, it would allow the Japan's higher education sector, facing a somewhat bleak future with an aging population and stagnant enrollments, to tap into a much more youthful country for higher education. Or make that 'countries', since industries in China, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia, as well as Malaysia, suffer from shortages of scientists and engineers. A new international university of technology could serve all these countries. Finally, it would also help make Malaysia the true higher education hub of S. and S.E. Asia instead of the land-scare city-state of Singapore.

Perhaps the biggest problem is that the current government of Japan is unpopular. It lacks a foreign policy beyond appeasement of US strategic interests in Asia. And right now the Fukuda cabinet's main concern is its own political survival.

Link to the full article and an excerpt below:


excerpt >>Japan Offers Yen Loan For New University

From Mikhail Raj Abdullah

TOKYO, May 24 (Bernama) -- Japan is to offer a yen loan to Malaysia to finance the setting up of the Malaysia-Japan International University of Technology, Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said here Friday.

He said Tokyo was also prepared to loan adequate teaching manpower to Malaysia to put the university, which was planned several years ago, into operation.

Speaking to reporters after bilateral talks with Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda of Japan here, Abdullah said officials of both countries would meet to discuss the details.<< end of excerpt

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