PENANG Medical College (PMC) has been awarded foreign university branch campus status by the Higher Education Ministry.
It will now be known as the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and University College Dublin (UCD) Malaysia Campus – or “RCSI & UCD Malaysia Campus” (RUMC) for short.
RUMC president and CEO Prof Stephen Doughty said the new name evolved in discussion with the ministry.
PMC, which was set up in 1996, is wholly owned by the RCSI and UCD. More recent additional programmes (at Foundation and Masters levels) have built on the previous focus of undergraduate medicine.
The requirements, he added, for foreign university branch campus upgrading centred on criteria such as the percentage of international students and ensuring that all programmes are quality assured by the “home institutions”.
Asked if there will be more focus on research-driven activities, Prof Doughty said there is an active research portfolio already.
“We are now eligible to apply for Malaysian grants through the MyGrants portal, but we will also be looking to secure European Union funds for research and develop international collaborations as well as partnering Malaysian institutions. PMC has hosted a Clinical Research Centre for undertaking clinical trials research – that activity is currently under review for further development in the new institution under new governance arrangements,” he said.
Higher Education director-general Datin Paduka Dr Siti Hamisah Tapsir congratulated PMC on being upgraded to become the 10th foreign university branch campus in Malaysia. She said RUMC will need to focus on research activities, besides learning and teaching.
Prof Doughty said students spend two-and-a-half-years at RCSI or UCD in Dublin, Ireland for the pre-clinical years and another two-and-a-half-years in PMC and its teaching hospitals in and around Penang for their clinical training years prior to graduation.
“Our arrangement proves very successful as it allows students to have the overseas exposure to medical education but they get their clinical exposure in Malaysia, meaning that they are better prepared for house officer roles after they graduate. We take in roughly 120 medical students per year. We have foundation intakes of around 50 students and a Master’s student population of around 20 in any given year,” he added.
The students do their clinical training in a number of hospitals and local clinics, but the main partner hospitals are Penang Hospital, Seberang Jaya Hospital and Taiping Hospital. Nearly 1,600 doctors have graduated since the first convocation ceremony was held in 2001, he added.
UCD president Prof Andrew J Deeks said PMC has provided high-quality medical training to thousands of Malaysian doctors.
“UCD is proud that our longstanding special relationship with Malaysia has resulted in RUMC becoming the first Irish institution to receive foreign university branch campus status,” he said.
RCSI president Prof John Hyland said this approval for PMC is a testament to the quality of the medical programme delivered in Dublin and Malaysia, its talented academic staff and the PMC graduates who are leading improvements in healthcare for their patients in Malaysia and beyond.
National University of Ireland chancellor Dr Maurice Manning said: “As the first Irish foreign university branch campus in Malaysia, this achievement provides a fitting recognition of more than two decades of successful cooperation between Malaysian and Irish higher education institutions.”
“This important status is a significant honour for RCSI and UCD, as two globally recognised National University of Ireland institutions, and of the dedicated faculty and staff of PMC,” he said.
President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins said: “It is my sincere wish that PMC will continue to thrive and promote the highest standards in education for the benefit of the health, empowerment and wellbeing of all.” He is also patron of PMC.