Malaysia is not a country I cover often, but perhaps I should. Unlike many countries the Malaysian economy has grown steadily and at the same time the country has slowly but steadily improved education system. Until recently Malaysia’s medical education was modelled on the British undergraduate system where students start 5 year courses aged about 18 or 19. However this is set to change with the opening of a new medical school by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The new venture is a partnership between the Malaysian government, Johns Hopkins Medicine International and local company Academic Medical Centre Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Chase Perdana Sdn Bhd.
The fundamental difference in the US approach to medical education is that it is delivered in a post graduate setting – in this instance using the Johns Hopkins Genes to Society curriculum (all teaching will be in English). The new schools initial intake will be 100 students of who it is expected 75 will be Malaysian and 25 international students.
The new venture will be known as Perdana University Graduate School of Medicine, and it will offer Malaysia’s first four-year graduate medical program. As part of this project Perdana University Hospital a 600 bed facility fully integrated private teaching hospital will be constructed alone with related research labs on a 130 acre site outside Kuala Lumpur. A major driver behind the venture is Dr. Mohan Swam the Executive Chairman of Chase Perdana Sdn Bhd. Dr Swam who trained as a doctor in India (under the British medical system) said, ‘When I was in medical school, we used to memorize things without really understanding the concepts. The American system trains doctors to think more independently.’ He also believes the Johns Hopkins approach is more results oriented and has a greater emphasis on research.
While this may not seem a huge story, I think it’s important, because it’s another example of just how globally competitive the higher education market is, and why the UK will need to innovate far more if it wants to retain its long standing presence in the education systems of countries like Malaysia.