Ennew takes charge of Malaysia campus ambitions
IN a little under three months' time, Christine Ennew will move to Kuala Lumpur to become provost of the University of Nottingham's Malaysia campus. Prof Ennew is professor of marketing at the University of Nottingham Business School and was closely involved with the setting up of the Malaysia campus 12 years ago.
The 4,500 students who attend the campus come from countries across the Middle East and Asia, with different ethnic and religious backgrounds.
UNMC (University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus) is now well established and is about to embark on the next phase of its growth. It plans to have 5,500 students by 2015, eventually rising to 6,500.
"We are building more accommodation and are in a really strong position," said Prof Ennew.
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The environment in Malaysia is changing as the country's economy grows and strengthens. Other UK universities have now seen the opportunities in Asia and are following Nottingham's example. Newcastle University has set up a medical school, Southampton has launched an engineering school.
Malaysia has a well-developed private, higher education sector and Nottingham has to work hard to attract students.
"When I first went out to Malaysia, it was the parents, not the children, who approached the university," recalls Prof Ennew.
"Competition will change quite dramatically but UNMC is now much more mature and we have to build on the research we do with business.
"It really is the next stage of development. We have grown the teaching base, we have grown the student community. What we want to do now is invest more in the student experience on campus but also look at how we grow the work we do with business and the research that we do.
"In the case of business, it is not just working with Malaysian businesses but working with Malaysian businesses that might be looking at the UK or UK businesses that might be looking at Malaysia."
Prof Ennew says areas of interest include bio-medical sciences, where it has expertise in drug discovery, especially ethnopharmacology, that is the use of plants by ethnic groups. It also studies rain forest plants as sources of compounds which can provide the basis for developing new drugs.
"It is collaborative work. We have people in Malaysia who are able to access indigenous communities and find out what the plants are that have traditionally been used to treat various conditions.
"Screening provides a way of finding potential candidate plants which we can take back to our researchers to understand their composition. Refinement can take place at our Nottingham campus. There is genuine collaboration across the campuses, with each bringing complementary skills and assets.
"This is an area which is very attractive in Malaysia because there is a biodiversity resource to support and justify."
The area of post harvest technology and particularly the preservation of fruit and vegetable crops to last longer between harvesting and market while preserving their nutritional value is of interest to university researchers.
"This is about developing edible coatings for fruit and vegetables and is based on gum Arabic," explains Prof Ennew.
The engineering faculty in Malaysia is as big as Nottingham in terms of the number of students.
"There is a huge appetite for the acquisition of engineering skills and knowledge and there are great research teams looking at areas such as what to do with the residues of palm oil.
"There is also research around oil and gas pipe lines, solar energy and energy storage, particularly the development of small and highly efficient batteries."
Malaysia gives academics in Nottingham access to unique research sites.
Prof Ennew expects to remain in Kuala Lumpur for three years.