Official Opening of Limkokwing London

Addressed by Tan Sri Lim at Limkokwing University, London
1 October 2007

May I begin by thanking each and everyone for coming to share this occasion with us, for honouring us with your presence.

In particular I am grateful to our Prime Minister who has flown in from New York after attending the UN General Assembly just to be with us.

Yang Amat Berhormat, your presence has made this occasion that much more meaningful. Your support will inspire us to do what must be done to ensure a successful Malaysian university here in the UK.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Right from the start of his administration, the Prime Minister has promoted human capital development as a major thrust of his mission to drive Malaysia towards the goals of vision 2020.

To the Prime Minister, building a better Malaysia begins with developing better Malaysians.

He has introduced programmes to empower Malaysians with competencies that will enable them to move in tandem with a fast changing, more challenging world.

He has encouraged the globalisation of Malaysian education so as to benchmark the standards of Malaysian institutions with the best in the world.

The establishment of this university in London owes much to the Prime Minister′s constant encouragement and unstinting support. That he is here today speaks volumes of his support.

The Prime Minister will be pleased to know that we have made some progress since he to encourage us to be among the best in the world when he came to open our campus in Kuala Lumpur exactly 3 years ago.

Since then we have set up campuses in 6 countries and increased our student population to 16,000. These young people have joined us from more than 130 countries including the United Kingdom.

Now, we are in Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Beijing, Phnom Penh, Gaborone and London.

Now we are Asian, African and European all at once in the way we think, in the way we see and do things.

We will set up campuses in countries where we can make a difference, where we can make a contribution.

We have plans to be in 20 more countries within the next 5 years.

We have built up a collegial network of more than 160 universities spread over 70 countries in support of our “Global Classroom” concept. It must be one of the largest university networks in the world.

We receive more than 2 million visitors from more than 150 countries every month to our website, making it one of the most popular university sites in the world.

The Prime Minister will see that in doing what we do, we are not doing too badly.

Ladies and Gentlemen

The establishment of Limkokwing in London marks a pioneering endeavour to integrate Asian, African and Western values, traditions, creativity and technology in education; one that will broaden the cultural and intellectual learning experience of the student, one that will open minds to new ideas and perception.

According to the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, we are the first Malaysian, first Asian and first Commonwealth country′s university to establish a university campus in the UK.

We are the first Malaysian, first Asian and the first Commonwealth country′s university to deliver Malaysian degrees in the UK.

And we are the first Malaysian, first Asian and the first Commonwealth country′s university to offer double degree programmes in collaboration with British partner universities.

This augurs well for the strengthening of the bond that exists between Malaysia and the UK in the field of higher education.

That relationship was built over many, many years; from the time when Malaysia came under British rule until its independence in 1957 and it is continuing today. Large numbers of Malaysian students still come to the UK for their higher education.

Malaysia, meanwhile, has moved on to become a pioneer and innovator in the area of transnational education. It was the first country to introduce twinning programmes in collaboration with foreign universities, many of them British.

It is now one of the world′s important education destinations, with some 50,000 foreign students, from more than 150 countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Our journey to London has taken us 16 years. That′s how long we have been established in Kuala Lumpur, where we have created a campus that many have described as one of the most innovative in the world.

When we designed it, we were seeking to create a learning environment that was inspiring and empowering; where creativity is actively promoted and celebrated.

Today we stand as the only creativity–driven university in the region. It is also the most multicultural. 60% of our 8,000 students in Kuala Lumpur are foreigners who have come from more than a 100 countries.

We wanted to create a two–way traffic in education between Asia and the world. Not one way, with the students heading west but two–way with students heading east too.

We believed it was important to reverse the flow because an education with a western bias is no longer sufficient in the world today.

In today′s reality with eastern economies such as Japan, China, Korea and India challenging the western economies for global dominance, strictly western–centric education is no longer sufficient even for people living in the west.

Ladies and Gentlemen

It was Kipling the writer who wrote in 1889 and I quote, “East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet.”

That observation, in so many ways, remains true today. The East and West are poles apart, two vastly different civilisations.

However, regardless of their differences, the East and the West are forever sealed as two sides of the same coin.

Bridging the two sides of the coin is a major reason for Limkokwing University to be in London.

If you know only one side of the world but not the other, you will spend your lives knowing only half the story, seeing only half the picture and missing out on half the opportunities.

The people in the West must want to know why the East is rising so rapidly and how this shift in the balance of economic power is going to impact on their countries and their future.

To those living in the East, the ways of the West are very important because this region is home to the world′s richest nations and the world′s most innovative economies. These countries dictate whether economies around the world expand or decline.

The increasing connectivity of economies and the convergence of ways of life across the world is the clearest result of the globalisation phenomenon.

Our presence in London is part of this advancing globalisation.

And the globalisation of education is a trend that is gaining acceptance in the UK. There is increasing discussion in this country about the need for change, for re–inventing universities, re–inventing academics and re–inventing the graduates.

To some of us, there should not be a “one–size–fits–all” response to the provision of education.

That is because the world has many different people who come from very different cultural backgrounds and whose nations are at many different stages of development. Their needs are different, so the means must be tailored differently to meet those different needs.

The Africans, for instance, are very talented people. They are world–class in the many areas of human endeavours that they excel in. So why are African countries among the poorest in the world?

Would it be because the systems left behind by those who colonised them are unsuitable for their societies, and unable to meet their particular needs?

Perhaps, our being here, doing what we are doing, we may have helped a little to open up minds to new perspectives and opportunities.

The Times described our arrival in London, and I quote, "a wake–up call for UK universities about the harsh realities of globalisation."

The Guardian referred to our presence in London, and I quote, "just one example of many challenges facing British higher education."

Ladies and Gentlemen

That apart, I think our message has been quite well received.

In just six months, students from more than 30 countries have enrolled to join this campus.

Our London camus may now be small but it will play a big role in our global objective.

London is one of the great learning cities in the world. It is well–known for its creative vibrancy. It is the most powerful financial centre in the world and a “command–centre” for the global economy.

It will provide the Western experience that is important to reinforce the international education which our students will receive.

By reaching out to the world from London, we will help develop human capital crucial to the transformation of communities and industries in developing countries.

Because of what we do, Malaysian education has become more widely recognised.

In doing what we do, we are helping to promote the Malaysian brand of education around the world.

By strengthening the global profile of Malaysian education, we are playing our part in bringing more students from more countries to study in Malaysia.

By reaching out to the world at large, we are helping to bring nearer Malaysia′s goal of becoming a major destination for international education.

By reaching out to other developing countries we are working in support of our Prime Minister′s own vision of Malaysia becoming a major force in capacity building for the developing world.

The Prime Minister can rest assured that this university will work alongside him every step of the way until that vision is accomplished.