Sunday October 15, 2006
Selling Asia in London
It has been the norm to study British programmes in Malaysia. But Tan Sri Lim Kok Wing has decided to do just the reverse, setting up a campus in London to offer Malaysian degrees. He talks to LEANNE GOH and TAN EE LOO about this “calculated risk”.
PURSUE a Malaysian degree in London? Is this for real? The advertisements for Limkokwing London's new campus caught the attention of even those who rarely look at ads.
Something new, something different and certainly something of a calculated risk. And such thinking out of the box could only have come from someone like Tan Sri Lim Kok Wing.
After lying low for about one-and-a-half years due to health problems related to his eyes, he resumed his travels abroad and came back brimming with ideas.
Lim admits that while response to Limkokwing London has been “very warm” so far – there are already about 100 takers for its March intake – there are many sceptics out there who think he's got the formula wrong this time.
“People ask me why an Asian degree in London and I explain that we get the best of both worlds, East and West, in this setting.
“I know it will take some convincing to get parents to spend thousands of pounds to get a Malaysian degree when there are many other British universities and colleges in the UK.
“But we have international students from 90 countries studying in our campus in Malaysia. If they came to our country to have a quality education, why wouldn’t they want to go study at Limkokwing London? Why wouldn't they buy us there when they buy us here?” he says.
In three short months, the seed of an idea has germinated into a fledgling campus with a prestigious address in Piccadilly. Lim says he and his team have done their homework and are confident their London campus, apart from attracting local and international students from its Cyberjaya campus, will draw students from Europe who want a taste of Asia. In fact, so optimistic are they that they estimate an intake of close to 1,000 students next year.
“The whole world wants to go to London. Just studying or working there is a great experience. This is where you get a concentration of ideas in one place, the branding, packaging, sound, smell, look, form, texture, architecture, marketing, ideas, creativity...,what more in central London where we are located.”
If Limkokwing has already established ties with institutions in more than 10 countries where students can spend a semester each in a different continent, why the need to set up physical campuses in London and Botswana?
“Timing. We see more and more universities being set up, with each state wanting its own university, and the existing ones increasing their intakes. So where are the students going to come from to fill all these places?
“The writing is on the wall. The local fight is getting harder and harder. So we have to go out and set up campuses elsewhere to get the students. And setting up in London gives us a unique position.”
Lim says that while “London will be a challenge”, the campus in Botswana, a Southern African country with a population of 1.7 million, has the blessing of its government.
“The opportunity came along and we were able to set up the campus in consultation with the government and everything was done very quickly.
“We've had 450 government-sponsored students from the country at our campus in Cyberjaya over the past few years and the returning graduates have been a good testament to our programmes.”
He says the Limkokwing campus will be part of a consortium to house, among others, an innovative centre, hotel and diamond centre.
“The Government of Botswana is working towards its vision 2016 and we see ourselves as playing a role in providing quality education to empower the people there to achieve their national goal.”
“We can assist in the area of creativity and design in relation to tourism, handicraft and diamonds which Botswana is famous.”
The creative entrepreneur says that the campus in Botswana would be able to recruit not just from the country that is the largest exporter of diamonds in the world but also from its immediate neighbours South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
A guru of branding, Lim will no doubt be able to package his new campuses to appeal to students, whether in Malaysia or Botswana. It will, however, be an uphill task in London and Europe where he is relatively unknown.
Will people buy into this Malaysian brand? Says Lim with a laugh: “Well, this is the time to test Malaysia’s reputation.”
RM61,000 a year
1.What are the programmes available at Limkokwing London?
The campus will provide a wide range of programmes, ranging from pre-university studies, diploma, degree to post-graduate studies as well as language courses.
A variety of degree qualifications will be available in the areas of business, IT, design, and communications and multimedia.
2. Is Limkokwing London recognised/accredited?
It is in the process of obtaining accreditation from the British Accreditation Council (BAC) and the Department of Further Education Studies (DFES).
3. How much does it cost to study there?
The cost of tuition fees, board and food per year is estimated at RM61,000. As for tuition fees for a degree programme, Malaysian students will pay £5,000 (RM34,187) per year (two semesters) while international students £6,500 (RM44,510).
4. What about getting visas?
Limkokwing will facilitate the visa applications for both Malaysian and international students. Malaysians will not have any problems getting a visa. Standard applications usually require at least 2-3 weeks for processing.
5. Where will students live in London?
There are two types of accommodation available – hostel or homestay programme.
University hostel accommodation at the Paragon Halls is about 30 to 40 minutes from central London by tube. Single study bedrooms cost £100 (RM685) per week while studio apartments cost £143 (RM978).
While the cost of staying with host families may be slightly higher at £140 (RM958) per week, the advantage is that it comes with two meals per day.
6. Will students be able to work in London while studying?
Students are allowed to work part-time, up to 20 hours per week, and can expect to earn about £8 (RM55) per hour.