Local varsities told to set up exchange programmes with New Zealand  

The Borneo Post - Saturday, 07 June 2003

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KUCHING: Local universities should set up exchange programmes with New Zealand universities to enhance the learning experiences of students from both nations.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr George Chan said local institutions of higher learning could provide certain courses to enable New Zealand students to spend and study part of their semester in Sarawak.

"Likewise our students could go down to New Zealand to do one or two semesters there," he told reporters after officiating at the opening of the NZ Centre here yesterday.

He said this kind of collaboration would benefit universities of both nations as this would offer their students an experience that was otherwise only obtainable through studying at one university at a time.

Dr Chan, who is also Minister of Finance and Public Utilities and Minister of Industrial Development, pointed out that the exchange programmes would not just enrich the students' experience, but also serve to enhance the relationship between the two nations.

"There are some students who want to study in more than one universities so offering this kind of exchange programme would attract them to study there," he said.

He said the same could be offered in postgraduate studies, allowing students of both nations to experience what each other's country had to offer.

Dr Chan said Sarawak, which comparatively had the highest number of graduates who had studied overseas, was able to attract international students such as from China, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines to its privately run university campuses like Curtin and Swinburne Institute of Technology.

He said an estimated 13,000 Malaysians had been educated in New Zealand, and many of them now occupied senior positions in business, professional posts and government administration.

"The opportunities are there," he said, adding that all that had to be done was to set up those collaboration and cooperation between Sarawak and New Zealand universities.

On the New Zealand Centre, Dr Chan was optimistic that it would actively promote education links with New Zealand besides improving trade and business links between Malaysia and New Zealand, particularly Sarawak.

"For many years, New Zealand has not been well represented in Sarawak, particularly in the field of education," he said.

"It is with this in mind that the NZ Centre was set up".