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.

Study in Taiwan

The 2018 Taiwan Scholarship and Huayu Enrichment Scholarship (HES) are now open for application until March 31. Offered by Taiwan’s Ministry of Education, Malaysian students who want to further their studies in Taiwan are encouraged to send in their applications.

The Taiwan Scholarship encourages outstanding Malaysian students to pursue their undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Taiwan. The scholarship awards students NT$40,000 (RM5,323) each semester to cover tuition and miscellaneous expenses. Undergraduate students will also be offered a monthly stipend of NT$15,000 (RM1,996), while postgraduate students get NT$20,000 per month (RM2,661).

To facilitate the New Southbound Policy, the number of Taiwan Scholarships available for Malaysians has increased from 20 to 35.

The HES is offered to Mandarin learners including beginners for study at any accredited Mandarin Language Centre in a university or college in Taiwan. Recipients will be awarded a monthly stipend of NT$25,000 (RM3,327). These Huayu Enrichment courses include summer term durations (June to July, or July to August), or short-term classes which may last from three months to a year.

Interested applicants can submit their scholarship application forms to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Malaysia with other required documents. Information on the scholarships and application forms can be retrieved at http:// www.taiwanembassy.org/my_en/cat/8. html. For further details, call the Education Division at 03-2162 3228, 03-2161 4439 ext 184/185, or email malaysia@mail.moe.gov.tw

Redefining e-commerce

The e-commerce industry in Malaysia has seen massive growth with close to 2,000 small businesses inculcating e-commerce trading onto their platforms. These businesses face the challenges of utilising e-commerce through internet technology, fully benefiting from the tools that are available, including training talents.

Alibaba Group vice-president Brian Wong believes talents are best trained through universities and in November 2017, Alibaba Business School signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with University Utara Malaysia (UUM). The collaboration involves two programmes – the Global E-Commerce Talent (GET) “Train the Trainers” and Youth E-Commerce Program (YEP).

GET is Alibaba Business School’s first partnership with a public Malaysian university. It targets to train 100 educators by the end of this year and has already seen the graduation of 50 educators from six universities. YEP, on the other hand, has seen 30 students from various public higher education institutions engage in an experiential learning trip to Alibaba Business School in Hangzhou.

“China today is one of the most dynamic in terms of its e-commerce landscape and advanced in how it has leveraged on technology. The lessons learned from China can be shared in Southeast Asia, especially in Malaysia. It will provide an idea for entrepreneurs, governments and talents to think about what they can take from China’s experiences, which aspects are relevant to their country and society which will help to accelerate their learning and transformation,”Wong said.

“The reason we chose Malaysia is because it has plans on a macro level. There are two things that require talents to drive the government’s initiatives. One is the Digital Free Trade Zone which facilitates trade for small businesses in Malaysia which will build infrastructures to promote the use of e-commerce in small businesses.

“The other is Malaysia’s strategic e-commerce roadmap which involves multiple elements to transform its economy into a digital economy. To achieve this, you not only have to work from the top down, but from the bottom up. You have to develop talents starting at a young age, and Malaysia has been forward-looking in how it views its priorities, directions and trends in the economy,” Wong added.

There are four components to e-commerce: e-commerce, payment, logistics and big data. In e-commerce as a percentage of total retail, Malaysia scores 5% while China hits close to 16%. This highlights the potential Malaysia has, given that its mobile penetration rate is higher compared to the rest of Southeast Asia.

All Malaysia needs to do now is to figure out how to use the mobile phone not only for communication, but to purchase and pay for products. In China, this is already the scenario and part of the reason is the advent of Alibaba. In the early days, the company made big efforts to educate small businesses on e-commerce and it became a part of everyday marketing tools.

“Because Malaysian companies develop better infrastructures to sell their products, they don’t see a need to go outside normal channels. But now as things and consumer habits change, the need arises for businesses to become more tech-savvy,” Wong said.

In terms of payment, even though credit card penetration is higher in Malaysia than in China, China has surpassed all countries in the world and is now the largest users of digital payments or mobile transactions.

“People have become accustomed to mobile payments because of e-commerce; simply because a digital payment system through an internet-enabled device is needed. This is something which grew very quickly in China, and is something that needs to be developed in Malaysia and that translates to banking systems and infrastructures needing to facilitate that – which is starting to happen,”Wong said.

“The third aspect is logistics and I think Malaysia’s infrastructure is quite strong. What you need now is to create logistics that can enable fast delivery of products, and all of that lies in motion. So how can you improve this infrastructure? A change in behaviour is what Malaysia needs to focus on in order to realise its dream of a new economy paradigm,” he added.

Moving forward, the collaboration between Alibaba Business School and Malaysia has spawned two other components in the pipeline.

One is a government workshop called the Economy Workshop where the school plans to bring government officials to Hangzhou to learn the role the government has to play in nurturing the development of e-commerce and how ecosystems can help the government provide better access to job and wealth creations and opportunities.

The other programme which will be launched at the end of this month is the E-Founders Fellowship programme. The two week programme will gather top entrepreneurs from Southeast Asia who are building e-commerce infrastructures in their own countries, and expose them to e-commerce innovations from China and around the world that has enabled growth and deemed successful.

“There are lots of opportunities to build the infrastructure of the Malaysian economy and we hope local businesses will get started on it. We want to share our experience and provide some elements to consider as opposed to you doing it from scratch or in the dark,” Wong said.

For students, Wong’s advice is to enquire among universities if they provide e-commerce programmes as Alibaba Business School will continue to work with local universities to offer Alibaba training programmes and facilitate certification.

These programmes will teach individuals to use specific e-commerce platforms so much so, on graduation students have an edge in finding employment because they have the required expertise to operate e-commerce platforms.

First-hand experience
To share her experience on the Global E-commerce Talent (GET) “Train the Trainers” programme is Dr Nor Haniza Mohamad who is a principal lecturer at Politeknik Ibrahim Sultan Johor.

“It was a really amazing and challenging experience. Amazing as we were exposed to a complex and sophisticated world-class platform, and challenging because we had to absorb vast amounts of knowledge. The programme has given me a perspective of e-commerce in Malaysia and the huge potential it has to grow which will benefit local businesses in cross-border trading.

“We were first exposed to the overview of the e-commerce industry in Malaysia, China and the world. Then we went on to understand the characteristics of the Alibaba platform; elements incorporated for its sellers and buyers. Later we learned about selling strategies; how we could sell our products online and how we can make our products visible through keywords and search principles,” she said.

Nor Haniza believes the GET programme has helped her get exposure to further help her students to understand the full spectrum of e-commerce platforms. She said students will greatly benefit from the knowledge she has gained, allowing them to actively participate in the e-commerce industry and start their own personal entrepreneurship endeavours.