"Malaysia is aiming for a certain ratio of patient to doctors. They saw NUMed as not only an investment in health but also an investment in their economy. They needed a highly reputable university and we were lucky to be invited," stated professor Chris Brink, vice-chancellor of Newcastle University.
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Currently, the country has one doctor for every 600 people and the government hopes to increase that ratio to one for every 400 by 2020.
But professor Riambau cautions that the benefits for IBC host countries will be more social than economic. For example, he hopes Yale's presence in Singapore will inspire more Asians to pursue liberal arts, an area of study that usually lags behind science and maths in the region.
Hosting an IBC also improves prospects for low-income youths who are unable to travel abroad for a Western education. Schools like NUMed often receive government scholarships targeted at those students.
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"Having more foreign universities in the country opens up more opportunities to many Malaysian students, especially those with financial constraints. In addition, more options means greater competition among education providers. Competition breeds improvement, which in turn will benefit us in the future," NUMed student Ka Liang said.