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Thursday, September 2, 2010

EduCity projects target for completion by 2011

JOHOR BARU: Education@Iskandar Sdn Bhd (EISB) plans to complete the ongoing education-related projects and facilities at EduCity in Nusajaya, Iskandar Malaysia next year.

Khairil Anwar Ahmad with a model of the sports complex in EduCity@Nusajaya, Iskandar Malaysia in Johor

Chief executive officer Khairil Anwar Ahmad said it was vital to have them ready by then to ensure the respective institutions would be able to operate at their premises as scheduled.

The projects are the Newcastle University of Medicine (NUMed) and the Netherlands Maritime Institute of Technology (NMIT) campuses, a 12-storey apartment block of students hostel and a sports complex.

The RM300mil NUMed campus on 5.26ha is scheduled for completion next May, followed by the RM30mil MNIT campus on 2.83ha, the apartment block on 3.24ha (phase one) and the sports complex on 11.54ha by the end of 2011.

“At the same time, we’ll continue with our ongoing efforts to attract international educational institutions to set up their branch campuses at EduCity,’’ he told StarBiz.

Khairil said the company had signed agreements with Singapore-based Raffles Education Corp Ltd (REC) and the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS), Singapore’s oldest non-profit professional institute for lifelong learning to set up faculties there.

The company and REC will jointly develop and build Raffles University on 26ha in EduCity.

He said apart from REC and MDIS, the company had recently signed a memorandum of understanding with an American cinematic art school to set up a creative school at EduCity.

It would be a partnership between the American school and a local private university.

Khairil said the EduCity creative school would focus on cinematography courses such as film production, script writing, editing, stage design, music, special effect makeup, wardrobe and costume design.

“The school will complement the Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studio (PIMS) in Nusajaya scheduled to open by early 2013,’’ he said.

Khazanah Nasional Bhd is investing RM400mil to build the region’s biggest independently-owned studio together with renowned international film production company Pinewood Shepperton plc.

Khazanah’s wholly-owned unit Beserah Venture Sdn Bhd will be involved in the project.

Pinewood has over 75 years of filming history and was involved in over 1,500 productions including international blockbusters like the James Bond and Harry Potter series, Batman Begins and The Da Vinci Code.

The NMIT, Khairil said, would start at its temporary campus in Menara Kotaraya here with the first intake of about 150 students of SPM school leavers next March.

He said the institute would start taking students from the region in the second year onwards when it moved to its permanent campus in EduCity by 2012. It has the capacity to enrol up to 2,500 students.

Khairl said NMIT courses are International Maritime Organisation accredited and its graduates could be employed by any international shipping company.

The institute will offer diploma, degree and master programmes in marine transport, shipping seafaring, maritime and logistics management.

NMIT is a collaboration between Maritiem Instituut Willem Barentsz, Maritiem Instituut de Ruyter and Maritime Intel Sdn Bhd (MISB), the operating company of NMIT. Malaysian and Dutch partners jointly own MISB.

“We are now negotiating with a top British engineering university for an engineering faculty and have also started looking at hospitality and business schools,’’ said Khairil.

He said if everything went well, the construction of the engineering faculty would probably start next year.

For the hospitality school, the company was keen to have the Australian vocational schools curriculum.

Khairil said the Australian hospitality school model would be able to produce workforce better suited for Iskandar Malaysia’s leisure and tourism sector.

He said courses offered were related to day-to-day operations such as customer relations, front office management, culinary, banquet, spas personnel, food and beverage staff and outdoor activities.

Khairil said the opening of Legoland Malaysia Theme Park, the Indoor Theme Park@Puteri Harbour and other leisure attractions in Iskandar would create job opportunities for the hospitality students.

The 123.42ha EduCity is being developed to be the leading knowledge hub in the region catering to the schooling needs of local and foreign students.

“By having foreign universities set up their campuses in EduCity, local universities and industries have much to gain from their presence,’’ he said.

Khairil said it would encourage them to share their expertise by working and collaborating with local public and private universities through joint-research opportunities and academician and student exchange programmes.

ISB is a wholly-owned unit of Iskandar Investment Bhd, which in turn is 60% owned by Khazanah, while the Employees Provident Fund and Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor each has 20% equity.

By The Star

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