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A research student from Bengaluru recounts her experiences in the National University of Malaysia.

Ayesha Firdose in UKM Campus at Bangi.

By A Staff Writer

Malaysia with its luxuriant greenery could be a dream destination for any student wanting not just a scenic campus, but also a really vibrant research environment. Ayesha Firdose who landed in the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in February this year, had no idea what the nation had to offer her. But seven months into her research, she finds the country pleasant, people amiable and environment adorable.
Ayesha is pursuing her Ph.D. in Microbiology at the National University of Malaysia or Universiti Kenbangsaan Malaysia(UKM) at Bangi, 35 kms south of Kuala Lumpur. UKM is one of the five research universities in the country. It was ranked 259th in the world by QS World University Rankings in 2014. It is ranked 98th place in the 100 best new universities established within the last 50 years in the world.
Ayesha had completed her M.Sc. course with 92% marks from Mount Carmel College for Women in Bengaluru in June this year. She received a scholarship for overseas study from Karnataka Minority Development Corporation (KMDC). Talent Promotion Trust too chipped in helping her with funds for several formalities prior to travel. Her topic is “Biodegradation of Palmoil Mill effluents”. According to her, bio-oxygen demand (BoD) from raw effluents is very high as the effluents when released from palmoil refineries carry particulate matter at 40,000 ppm. It is useful to know that palm is the chief crop of Malaysia and the nation produces nearly 13 million tons of palmolien oil annually. Here she speaks to Islamic Voice on her experiences in Malaysia. Excerpts:
What aspects of education in the Malaysian University appealed to you most?
There are quite a few aspects which impressed me. Firstly, it is the dynamic atmosphere at UKM which provides opportunities for building significant academic and social links with people from different backgrounds. UKM promotes collaborative learning which is a very good platform to learn and understand the academics and research at global level. One of my personal favorites is the student exchange programs offered by the UKM which according to me not only exposes students to different community and cultural perspectives, but also helps in building a strong personality, self-confidence, accommodative nature, competitive spirit and global awareness. Secondly, UKM has excellent facilities for the students which include free shuttle around the campus, free medical center, multi-cuisine restaurants, massive library, shopping stores, bank, stadium etc. which cut down a lot of outward travelling costs and saves students time and energy. Food within the campus costs half of what it might cost outside.
Last but not the least, the campus itself is gorgeous, with greenery all around, it is very well maintained. Being a PhD student far away from home, peace of mind is very important to me for staying focused and the atmosphere inside relaxes and rejuvenates my mind.
How do you find the country and the people?
The country is immensely beautiful with lush green highlands and water bodies ever brimming with freshwater. Everything from the streets to the offices, schools, public places etc. is very clean, maintained really well and highly organized. There are places for visit which are simply jaw-dropping coupled with amazing architecture and infrastructure. Malaysia is a melting pot of cultures as it takes in all that entire Asia has to offer. The population is mélange of Malays who are called Bhumiputra (original inhabitants), Chinese who are very enterprising and people of Indian origin, basically Tamilians. There is wide variety of food and I don’t think any foreigner would have any kind of food related problem in Malaysia. People are very friendly, helpful and welcoming.
How expensive is education and living as a student from India there?
One of the most prominent reasons for choosing Malaysia for my PhD was the reasonable expenses at UKM in comparison to Universities I had applied in other countries. Although it is a little expensive for me being a student from India, but it surely is fairly inexpensive compared to the other foreign universities. This is also due to the fact that the UKM is a public university and charges considerably lower tuition and hostel fee for students in relation to other privately
owned universities. All in all, it is highly advisable to keep yourself away from loans and opt for universities in countries like Malaysia and Singapore as these are developing at a faster pace and you would not have a tough time thinking and arranging the finances.
(Ayesha Firdose can be reached at [email protected])