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As the new pro vice-chancellor of Monash University Malaysia, Professor Merilyn Liddell will lead the campus into new fields of teaching, research and regional engagement. KAREN STICHTENOTH reports.
The appointment of Professor Merilyn Liddell - a family medicine expert and professor of general practice education at Monash University - as the new pro vice-chancellor for Monash's Malaysia campus heralds an exciting new phase in the university's development.
|Professor Merilyn Liddell (left) will build on the strengths of Monash University Malaysia.
The Malaysia campus was the first of Monash's campuses to be set up outside Australia. Its first intake of students was in July 1998. Currently located alongside the Sunway College campus in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, it will be relocated to a larger stand-alone campus to be built nearby in 2006.
While in Malaysia, Professor Liddell will oversee the construction of the new campus. Demand for places is expected to see the student population increase from about 2000 today to around 6000 once the new campus becomes operational.
Professor Liddell sees her role as building on the university's strengths and, as the organisation matures, to ensure it remains vibrant and continues to grow.
"Although the Malaysia campus is already highly regarded in that country, one of my aims is to increase the profile of Monash in the region and see the university develop as a regional educational hub," she says.
This is something Professor Liddell is well qualified to do. During her time at Monash, she has played a key role in promoting medical education, particularly in the area of communication - a key component of Monash's medical curriculum. Her achievements were formally acknowledged in 1998 when she was honoured with a vice-chancellor's award for distinguished teaching.
In 1999-2000, Professor Liddell spent 20 months as director of Monash Medical Education at the Malaysia campus, where she gained a valuable insight into the Malaysian higher education system.
Upon her return to Australia, she established a special program to introduce Bumiputra Malay scholarship students to the study of medicine in Australia. The three-month residential program assists students with their educational and cultural transition prior to entering the five-year medical course at Monash.
This year, Monash became eligible to compete for research funding in Malaysia - an option only previously available to local public universities, and something Professor Liddell plans to actively pursue.
"Research is important from an educational perspective, but also in terms of integration with the community," she says.
"The university recently won an award from the Malaysian Government for research - the only international university to do so."
The Malaysia campus has already become known inter-nationally for its research into Islamic banking and in September hosted a European conference on the topic at the Monash Centre in Prato, Italy.
There are also plans to attract more students from overseas, including Australia. At present, some 16 per cent of enrolments are international students, mainly from the Asian region, and Australian students are beginning to see the benefit of spending a semester or two on an Asian campus.
"Malaysia is a very vibrant Asian country and the diversity of culture is one of its strengths. It would be great to see that demonstrated on campus."
Action: Monash University Malaysia offers courses in arts and communications, business, information technology, engineering and science. For more information visit the Monash University Malaysia website.