THE AL al-Bayt university in Jordan has applied to set up a branch campus in Kuantan, West Malaysia.
About 800 Malaysian students study at the university in Jordan. Its degrees are recognised by Malaysia, the United States and several countries in Europe.
Al al-Bayt, which has a twinning programme with the Institute Kemajuan Ikhtisas Pahang (IKIP) in Kuantan, hopes to set up the campus this year, subject to approval by the Malaysian education ministry. All the noises coming from the ministry are that the application is being favourably viewed.
Omar Shudeifat, university deputy president, was confident that Al al-Bayt would be successful in its application following a meeting with senior education ministry officials in Kuala Lumpur. "We are developing a good understanding with the education ministry and the Jordanian government," he said.
If successful in its application the branch would aim to take in students from Brunei, Singapore and Indonesia as well as Malaysia.
Students would be required to master Arabic, which will be the main medium of instruction in most subjects.
The university is a member of the Islamic Universities Consortium and an application had been made to set up two more branches in the United States.
Draft plans favour a tie-up between Al al-Bayt and IKIP - formerly a Pahang Foundation-sponsored institute - to coordinate and manage the branch campus.
The branch would be located in Kuantan on the east coast of the Malaysian peninsula but other states are being contacted to find out if they are interested in creating another site.
This year 400 students will be enrolled on the twinning programme with IKIP, compared with 200 students in 1996. Student applications reached more than 1,000 last year and are expected to be even higher this year.
IKIP, which has grown from 22 students in 1992 to 2,000 today, is planning to turn itself into a private university by 2000.