The Asian Women’s Learning University (AWLU) project, in partnership with
Smith College, plans to start an international liberal arts women’s
university in Malaysia in 2015 As such, they visited Wawasan Open University
recently to learn from its experience.
On hand to welcome the delegation of 13 academics from the AWLU project,
Singapore and Smith College, US were Wawasan Education Foundation chairman
Dato’ Seri Stephen Yeap, Chairman of WOU’s Board of Governors Tan Sri
Emeritus Prof Gajaraj Dhanarajan, and Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) Prof
Dato’ Dr Ho Sinn Chye.
Prof Ho gave a brief introduction of WOU while Prof Dhanarajan related the
history, procedures, as well as the vision behind the setting-up of the
A few of the team members from AWLU and Smith College took turns to share
their own experiences in liberal arts and in teaching the different subjects
during the one-hour dialogue with representatives from WOU.
Khoo Hoon Eng, founding Board Member and Director of AWLU Project, Singapore
said that Smith College is their academic planning partner to start an
international liberal arts women’s university in Malaysia. She said they
have already found a suitable site in Penang and are in the process of
“The model for the university is fully residential, face-to-face, four-year
curriculum. When I say liberal arts, this also means sciences and possibly
engineering. The students will take classes for courses in their major and
then anything that they like,” she stated, adding that AWLU project has a
partnership agreement with Smith College for three years.
Khoo said that they plan to have two semesters a year, but entry will be
only once a year in August. The initial batch in 2015 will only have 100 and
the intake is to be increased to 500 students a year from across Asia. There
will be 2000 students in the hostel at any one time.
Carol T Christ, the President of Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts
said that her college has some 3,000 students ranging from 27-55 years and
they take courses in arts and engineering. “We are very excited with our
partnership with AWLU to create a women’s university in Asia to bring ideals
of liberal arts education to this part of Asia.”
Prof Dhanarajan, in replying to queries, talked about the university’s
operations, tuition fees, age of students, and the challenge of delivering
education in English to the current younger segment of population.
Among the delegation were professors of music, biology and economics from
Smith College. Also present at the dialogue were Assistant Vice Chancellor
(Academic Support) Prof Mohandas Menon, School of Foundation and Liberal
Studies (SFLS) acting dean Dr S Nagarajan and senior lecturer Jasmine