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Studying in University of New South Wales

The University of New South Wales (UNSW)

UNSW commemorated 60 years of extraordinary achievement in 2009.

UNSW is renowned for the quality of its graduates and its commitment to new and creative approaches to education and research. Its motto - Scientia Manu et Mente ("Knowledge by Hand and Mind") - encapsulates the University's central philosophy of balancing the practical and the scholarly.

UNSW is a founding member of the prestigious Group of Eight research intensive universities in Australia and a member of the Universitas 21 international consortium.

Brandon Chin, Sandakan, Sabah
Bachelor of Architectural Studies, 2nd year

Brandon Chin's appreciation of the Sydney Opera House goes way beyond the usual tourist snaps shots as the sun sets over Sydney Harbour.

To the 21-year old Malaysian Architectural Studies student at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), the building is not only an example of fine design lines in its iconic "sails", but a technical and engineering triumph.

"The Opera House is my favourite building in Sydney. It was a new innovative idea -- so it was a purely theoretical structure -- but when they built it those ideas actually worked', he says.

Brandon's fascination with design goes back to a childhood spent drawing and making models of boats and buildings in the small provincial city of Sandakan in Sabah.

Despite rapid changes to design technology, he still likes the feel of a pencil or pen in his hand, and often puts downs ideas on paper before transferring them to a computer.

In Sandakan, Brandon would look around at the uniform, functional buildings constructed off plan by property developers. He realised there was not a single Architectural firm based in his home town.

Now in the second year of his Architectural Studies degree at UNSW, Brandon is keen to translate his ideas into real structures which don't just function well, but create a special feeling for people. Ultimately, he'd like to design a people friendly airport, he says, but at this early stage "this is still a dream."

Brandon chose to study in Australia because of its proximity to Malaysia and the support of relatives in Sydney and he chose UNSW because of its flexible, internationally-focused, well-regarded degree.

Two years ago, UNSW's five year Architecture program was split into a three-year Bachelor of Architectural Studies degree followed by a two-year Master of Architecture degree by coursework, allowing students to gain work or travel experience in between if they choose.

"I liked that idea of flexibility," Brandon says.

His favourite part of his course are the core "Design Studio" modules which bring 12 students and a tutor together to work "hands-on" in developing their design ideas in a studio setting, rather than a conventional classroom.

"We can sketch, model, or work with whatever materials or tools we like. We critique each others work with the support of the tutor. This is really important in terms of learning about design," he says.

When Brandon first arrived in Sydney it was something of a shock. He'd visited Australia once before as a very young child but had few recollections to go on. Coming from a much smaller city, Sydney initially seemed overwhelming.

"It was a real culture shock but now I am really enjoying it. Actually the lifestyle is quite relaxed," he says.

"In terms of learning I've found that in Australia students need to talk a lot and to express their ideas, not just rely on text books, which I think is positive."

Ultimately, Brandon is aiming for a qualification which will equip him with the skills to work anywhere in the world.

All degrees offered by UNSW's Built Environment Faculty are based on international course material and oriented towards global advances in their fields. In addition, Australian architectural qualifications are widely recognised around the world.

"I would like to get some work experience in Australia, before going back to Malaysia," he says.

Malaysian student enrolments at UNSW increased significantly over the past year, and the University has a vibrant Malaysian student association which runs regular social events to keep students connected. In addition, UNSW has a comprehensive range of support services for all international students, from academic writing workshops to group weekends away exploring nearby scenic attractions.

Meiyi Lin, 22, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah,
Bachelor of Science (Biotechnology), Golden Jubilee Scholarship

As a child growing up in Malaysia, Meiyi Lin was curious enough about science to experiment on herself. To test whether her pencils really were 'non toxic' she bit off a small piece and ate it.

Now in her final year of a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Meiyi laughs at her first childhood 'research project'. Today, her adult vision of a scientific career is a sophisticated combination of expertise in biotechnology and business acumen.

In the flexible Bachelor of Science degree at UNSW, Meiyi has been introduced to a wide range of the practical applications of biological processes for human benefit, in the fast growing field of biotechnology. At the same time she has been able to pick electives from UNSW's prestigious Australian School of Business.

'I have been able to get a feel of all types of biotechnology which is really useful. And as I want to specialise in commercialisation it's a real benefit to be able to pick up relevant business studies outside my own faculty,' says the 22-year-old.

The understanding and manipulation of biological processes is revolutionising many industries worldwide with applications ranging from the extraction of precious metals and the development of new vaccines and biomedical materials for medical applications to novel food processing methods. Globally, the biotechnology industry is growing at over 14 per cent a year and Malaysia is one of the Asian nations at the forefront of a regional boom.

Meiyi grew up in Kota Kinabalu in Sabah. Although she had always hoped to study overseas, she wasn't sure how she'd even make it happen. Meiyi was already away from home studying in Kuala Lumpur when a representative of UNSW came to speak on campus at the college she was then attending. Once she realised that by maintaining first or second ranking in her science diploma program she could qualify for a Golden Jubilee Scholarship to study at UNSW, she was determined to do well.

The scholarship gave Meiyi entry into second year of the Bachelor of Science degree.

I had never been to Sydney or Australia. So, I expected to be homesick and to experience culture shock. I prepared myself for the worst,' she says laughing.

The reality, however, was a pleasant surprise.

'People were really friendly, there is a Malaysian student association which has activities every weekend, so there is always something to do if you want to join in,' she says.

What she particularly likes is that studying at a major research university such as UNSW means her lecturers are experts in their own right.

'When you are taught by people who are doing their own research they are really passionate about their field and that makes the lectures so interesting.'

She is also enjoying the 'international mix' of students and staff at UNSW.

Even Australians come from all over the world and I have so many different people in my classes, so you get to learn about so many different cultures,' she says.

Nowadays I say 'no worries' and love eating salads like an Australian, but although Sydney is a Western city it has plenty of Asian culture to offer too.'

The Golden Jubilee scholarship program was established in 1999, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the UNSW to assist outstanding diploma students and cement the strong historic ties between UNSW and the region. UNSW was the first university in Australia to accept international students from the early 1950s, many of whom were from Malaysia and Singapore.

Every year some 20 students are selected from students who have maintained first or second place in their courses at or the programs at partner colleges in Malaysia and Singapore.

Malaysian student enrolments at UNSW increased significantly over the past year, with cutting edge science options like biotechnology, nanotechnology, food science and technology, medical science and materials science and engineering becoming increasingly popular.

UNSW is one of Australia's leading teaching and research universities and boasts state-of-the art laboratory facilities including, for example, a unique cell culture facility that uses genetically engineered cells to produce antibodies against cancer.

In 2009, UNSW was judged by the Australian Government as the top university nationwide for quality learning and teaching, with maximum scores for excellence in science, business, law, economics, engineering, computing and architecture.

Tian Sing Ng, PhD candidate in the Faculty of Engineering

When Malaysian student, Tian Sing Ng, first dreamed of becoming a civil engineer he imagined building giant structures like bridges and high rise buildings. Now, he's working on solving one of the world's most pressing environmental problems using the tiny, ultra-fine particles of 'fly ash', the waste left over from coal-fired power stations.

Tian, a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), is part of an innovative research team working on an environmentally-friendly alternative to concrete and cement for the construction industry.

The team is turning fly ash and other pollutants like ash and slag from industrial blast furnaces into a new 'geopolymer concrete', solving two environmental problems at a time.

Cement and concrete is one of the world's dirtiest industries, generating up to ten per cent of total global emissions. Every tonne of cement manufactured releases one tonne of carbon dioxide and global cement production is now running at the equivalent of one cubic metre per person per year.

The 24-year-old from the west coast Malaysian town of Seremban now laughs at how much his understanding of the potential of civil engineering has grown since his early high school ambitions.

'I liked maths, physics and other sciences and I was good at them, so I thought about constructing big buildings and bridges,' he says.

After two years studying for a diploma in civil engineering at Malaysia's INTI College, Tian found himself at the top of his class and eligible for UNSW's Golden Jubilee Scholarship program, which assists outstanding students from Malaysia and Singapore.

Tian transferred into the final two years of a Bachelor of Civil Engineering at UNSW in Sydney and graduated with the University medal. After about 18 months working in an Australian civil engineering consulting firm on dams, one of engineering's most challenging structures, Tian came back to UNSW on a PhD scholarship to turn his attention to research.

'Dams are very interesting because of the immense pressure the structure is under from the water they hold, so we need to understand very precisely how different materials perform under pressure,' he says.

'By substituting fly-ash waste for cement to make a more environmentally friendly concrete we are also looking very precisely at structural behaviour and performance.

'We know it is possible to make concrete out of 100 per cent fly ash, but how does it perform, does it perform well enough for construction?'

Tian says he chose to come to UNSW rather than considering Britain because Australia offers a high quality education and a multi-cultural community environment, relatively close to home.

I had been to Perth once as a child, but Sydney was completely new to me. But, because of the multi-cultural environment the transition was quite easy.

I found the education system here encourages students to think critically and to work both in teams and independently,' he says.

UNSW is well known for the environmental applications of its research and is the long standing world leader in solar power technology. UNSW is also playing an international role in developing solutions for fly-ash pollution from coal fire power stations, which clogs waterways and contaminates the air. Another UNSW fly ash research project has recently been commercialised in China, where the world's first 100% fly ash bricks, pavers and aggregates are coming off the production line as a new range of light-weight, high performance 'green' building materials. UNSW hosts Australia's largest Faculty of Engineering, which is regularly ranked number 1 nationally.

The Golden Jubilee scholarship program was established in 1999, the 50th anniversary of the founding of UNSW, to assist outstanding diploma students from Malaysia and Singapore and to cement the strong historic ties between UNSW and Asia. UNSW was the first university in Australia to accept international students from the early 1950s, many of whom were from from Malaysia and Singapore.

Every year some 20 students are selected from applicants who have maintained first or second place in their programs at Malaysia's University of Technology Mara (UiTM), HELP University College, INTI College, SEGI College (formerly Prime College) and Taylor's College (Built Environment and Engineering only) and Singapore's Nanyang, Ngee Ann, Singapore, Temasek and Republic Polytechnics.

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