A New Zealand experience

The annual New Zealand Asean Scholarship (NZAS) was initiated in 2012. Eighteen Malaysians have benefited from it. Managed by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), Malaysia is allocated two scholarships each year. This year, Ahmad Sufi Mokhtar and Wan Atikah Wan Azalah made the cut.

Funded by the New Zealand Programme, under the New Zealand government’s international aid and development register, the scholarship is open to those interested in pursuing either a Postgraduate Certificate (six months), Postgraduate Diploma (one year), Masters Degree (one or two years), or PhD (up to 3.5 years).

“MFAT offers scholarships to those who are interested in studying subjects that can improve the social aspect and economy of their country. The ministry determines the priority sectors that support this development. Applicants who can demonstrate that their proposed study is connected to any of these priority sectors are more likely to be selected,” said New Zealand High Commissioner to Malaysia Dr John Subritzky.

“There were five priority sectors for Malaysia last year – agriculture development, renewable energy, disaster risk management, public sector management or governance, and private sector development,” he said.

A total of 262 applications were received in 2017 of which Ahmad and Wan Atikah were selected. Both have been given the opportunity to pursue their Masters in Engineering Project Management and Master of Energy respectively. In this article, Ahmad shares his reason to study in New Zealand and of his experiences.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Kuantan, Pahang, but my family has been residing in Gombak for quite some time. I graduated from the International Islamic University of Malaysia in 2009 with a Bachelor of Mechatronics Engineering (Hons). I have been working for eight years in manufacturing in the automotive and aerospace industries specifically.

Why New Zealand?
I have been working as an engineer dealing with mainly technical aspects in the field. As I moved up the seniority ladder, I felt it was necessary that I enhance my project manage-ment skills and knowledge, hence, the reason to pursue a formal education related to my field of work, to develop and improve myself.

Why I chose to study in New Zealand is because of its reputation as one of the best, as an education provider in the world, based on the recent QS ranking where all of its universities were listed in the top 3% in the world. Moreover, I was offered the scholarship.

How did you find out about the scholarship and what was the application process like?
I learnt of this scholarship through a link on Facebook. The application was convenient as everything was done online. It took about eight months to fulfil all the requirements and phases of the application.

Apart from meeting the qualifications and experience, MFAT was looking for a candidate wanting to pursue a subject of study related to the development needs of our country.

I was really surprised and grateful when I found out that I was selected as one of the preferred candidates. Part of the application process included convincing the interviewers that I would be able to make a positive difference by contributing to Malaysia after completing my course.

What made you want to pursue a Masters in Engineering Project Management?
It is described as a programme that develops the skills and knowledge of an engineer in terms of project management skills and knowledge. It is also tailored to enhance and further develop the career of an engineer to higher positions as in a project manager or other management roles. The programme also constitutes coursework subjects as well as a final project that requires detailed research. All these met my aspirations.

How do you see this programme specifically helping you move forward?
I look at it as a stepping stone in my career. It will help equip me with the right business know-how and project management skills for a 21st century modern-day engineering company besides helping expand my network as I meet and engage with students across various fields of engineering from other countries around the world.

What are your future plans, once you complete the programme?
In between exploring New Zealand while studying, I hope to make a positive difference and give back to society and Malaysia by deploying what I have learned while here. I can see myself sharing my knowledge on subjects related to my field of study, perhaps joining seminars or workshops where I can share my ideas, discoveries and realisations and contribute to the development of Malaysia in some way.

Penang Medical College receives university status

IT was a proud day today for Penang Medical College (PMC) attaining “Foreign University Branch Campus” status by the Malaysian Higher Education Ministry (MOHE).

The 10th in Malaysia to receive this honour and award, PMC is now called the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and University College Dublin (UCD) Malaysia Campus or RCSI & UCD Malaysia Campus, RUMC for short.

A milestone achieved for PMC, established 20 years ago as provider of the nation’s first registrable medical degree from a Malaysian private higher education institution, and wholly owned by two Irish institutions; degrees are awarded by the National University of Ireland and are globally recognised.

President of Ireland and patron of PMC Michael D Higgins had this to say: “As president of Ireland, may I send my congratulations to all those who have worked so hard to achieve this accolade for the College, and it is my sincere wish that Penang Medical College will continue to thrive and promote the highest standards in education for the benefit of the health, empowerment and wellbeing of all”.

Instrumental in establishing Irish-Malaysian education links in the region is Irish ambassador to Malaysia Eamon Hickey who commented that this accolade is evidence of the growing relationship between Ireland and Malaysia and he hopes to see an increase in students shuttling between the two countries as RUMC grows and develops.

Nearly 1,600 medical doctors have graduated from PMC with globally recognised medical degrees of the National University of Ireland (NUI). Now with RUMC, no doubt this will help push Malaysia up the ranks as a provider of quality medical education.

RUMC president and CEO Prof Stephen Doughty said, “The upgraded university is in the midst of developing a suite of programmes to accommodate the human capital needs of the medical sector in Malaysia. Having developed high-quality Irish education over more than 20 years and contributed to the demand for Irish-trained doctors in Malaysia, now is an ideal time to offer other programmes at degree, masters and doctoral levels.”

The announcement was surely cause for a great celebration for all those at RUMC, not forgetting Irish education. Locally, the institution has achieved its mission to contribute to patients and society through excellence in education, learning and research and to benefit healthcare.

For more information, visit www.pmc.edu.my or follow Facebook @pmcpenang

An official ceremony will be held to mark this achievement, the first of many RUMC milestones moving forward.