Oct. 9, 1997
KALAMAZOO -- For the first time in 20 years, Western Michigan University is offering students in another country the opportunity to complete a degree entirely on their home turf.
The University will begin offering its master of business administration degree in Malaysia in spring 1998. Malaysian students will be required to successfully complete 36 credit hours (12 classes) of postgraduate business courses presented on the campus of Sunway College near the capital city of Kuala Lumpur.
This is the first time since the 1970s, when the University offered graduate education degree programs in Greece and Guam, that international students will be able to complete their WMU degrees without traveling to the United States. But it's also the wave of the future for WMU, according to Dr. Timothy Light, provost and vice president for academic affairs.
"We need to increasingly look at bringing our degree programs to the students, rather than asking the students to come to us," he said. "This is especially true in certain areas where we have a niche, such as a special degree program that is a good fit or a special group of students with whom we have a connection."
Malaysia and Sunway College are natural choices for the WMU MBA, he said. WMU has been educating students from Malaysia since the 1970s and, since 1987, has offered a "twinning program" at Sunway. Some 1,500 Malaysian students have participated in that program, taking their first two years of WMU-designed courses at Sunway and then transferring to WMU for their final two years to complete their degree. Currently, WMU offers five undergraduate degree courses in the twinning program, including one in business administration.
This semester, WMU enrolls 670 Malaysian students. That is the largest group of international students on campus in Kalamazoo and the largest Malaysian student community in the United States.
Dr. Howard J. Dooley, WMU's executive director of international affairs, noted that the time is ripe in Malaysia for the MBA, an internationally recognized management qualification.
"Our program is a response to a request from Sunway College to offer an MBA to help meet Malaysia's need for skilled business administrators," he said. "In Malaysia, an annual growth rate of 8 percent since 1988 has doubled the size of the economy and created a tremendous demand for highly qualified managers."
Dooley and other University officials from the Office of International Affairs and the Haworth College of Business have been negotiating the agreement for the past two years. The college is among a select 25 percent of U.S. business schools that are accredited at both the undergraduate and graduate levels by the AACSB-The International Association for Management Education.
"This will be the first time a U.S. university will offer an AACSB-accredited MBA program in partnership with a private institution of higher education in Malaysia," said Dr. James W. Schmotter, dean of the Haworth College of Business. "Successful students in Malaysia will be awarded the same WMU MBA, with the same high quality, as students who take the course in Kalamazoo."
He said that recruiting in Malaysia will begin immediately, with an initial target class of at least 25 students. The 12 classes that constitute the MBA degree program will be taught by Haworth College of Business faculty members and Malaysian instructors approved by WMU starting in May 1998.
WMU faculty members will travel to Malaysia during spring and summer sessions (May through August) in 1998 and 1999. They will teach a total of eight classes, each in one-month stints. The Malaysian faculty members will teach the remaining four classes during the fall and winter semesters (September through April).
While this is the first time the Haworth College of Business has offered its MBA overseas, it's not the first time the program has gone "on the road." Through WMU's Division of Continuing Education, the college has offered the program at regional centers in Grand Rapids and St. Joseph as well as by satellite or compressed video at 15 other locations around the state of Michigan. The program currently enrolls 800 students.
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