In a survey of 196 employers in Malaysia conducted by employment research firm Talentbank in 2020, the majority of respondents said that local fresh graduates are not ready for the workforce. This is shocking, considering the amount of time and money spent on securing a diploma or a degree. In fairness though, it is not a phenomenon unique to Malaysia alone. Too often, academic institutions are seemingly divorced from industry, which leads to a situation where theoretical knowledge is prioritised over real world applicable skills. One institute of higher learning in Malaysia is bucking the trend however, by ensuring that – through industry immersed education – it is able to ensure that its students gain meaningful employment. This is the story of Kings University College.
Kings University College in its present form was founded by its Managing Director Murugan Veloo and his business partner and started off as a small entity offering diploma courses.
Later on, Kings College shifted to its own campus at a prime area right in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.
It was during this time that the global economy ground to a near halt because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But rather than let the crisis negatively affect business, Murugan Veloo realised that the situation opened up
“I saw that there was a demand for education during COVID, as many people were laid off and had to upskill and reskill themselves.
Of course, during that time, institutes of higher learning could not have students attend classes physically. Fortunately, we had already moved all our learning materials online and we were ready to accept new students,” he revealed.
And with that, Kings College’s business grew three times as much as before. And Kings soon became a trusted and respected name
in the higher education sector in Malaysia. A position which was later reinforced in May this year when it received University College status, thus resulting in the name change to Kings University College.
Kings University College students with their certificates after attending a culinary microcredential course.
Students and the instructor at a professional English course in Kings University College. One of Kings University College’s unique selling points is its focus on ensuring that its students are equipped with the necessary skills that will enable them to enter the workforce with ease upon graduation.
The Man Behind Kings
Of course, Kings University College’s growth can be attributed to the dynamism, drive and leadership of Murugan Veloo. He is now the youngest university college owner in the country.
Interestingly enough, for a man who is
making such an impact in the education sector, Murugan’s entry into the industry could be regarded as somewhat fortuitous. As he told International Business Review, it was never his intention to pursue a career in education, and his journey seemed more fated than planned.
Growing up as the third of four children in a small town in Kedah to financially struggling parents, Murugan was told from a young age that the best way to escape from poverty was through education. “We believed at that time,
if you could get into a public university, then your life is set up,” he explained.
Spurred on by his parents, whom he credits as the major inspirations and role models in his life, Murugan studied hard and managed to secure a place in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) to study psychology.
However, upon graduating, Murugan found himself facing a major roadblock. It was the time of the Asian Financial Crisis and a recession was underway, making it near impossible for him to pursue a career in psychology. After some time looking for a job, he finally secured one as an administrative assistant in a local college.
And that was how his journey through the education industry began.
While getting a job in a college was the first step towards becoming an education entrepreneur, Murugan Veloo revealed that this was only possible because he kept to heart the words his father used to say.
“My father used to tell us to observe what the owners of the business we are working for, are doing and learn to run the business like the owner,” Murugan explained. And that was what he did during his time working the college. Rather than just focus on his individual silo or responsibility, he observed all other departments in the college functioned, and those lessons have paid off greatly.
Murugan’s Rules of Business
While Murugan Veloo may be considered as an accidental entrepreneur, he had always been encouraged by his mother to go into business. And when it comes to running his business, Murugan has two rules of thumb.
The first is to be his own man. In other words, he does not seek to emulate what other successful entrepreneurs are doing. This does not come from a position of arrogance but because he realises that their pathways and destinations are different from his. And so, rather than copy someone else whose vision does not correlate with his, he prefers to pursue his own path.
The next rule of thumb, he explained, is that the business model must be unique. As he
said to International Business Review, “My motto is that if you do not have a disruptive business model, then you should not pursue it. Take a Risk and Be Different! And this is what Kings University College is. It is not like other traditional universities. We are not in
the education business. We are in the people business.”
Being in the people business means that Kings University College is focused on students’ experience by giving them a lifestyle, customised education and a promising future. In Murugan Veloo’s words, “Education becomes a lifestyle”. And this is something that Kings University College offers throughout all its courses – from the Foundation level for school leavers to its degree and post graduate programmes.
The Future is Here, But We are Not in It
Education, an ever-evolving realm, has undergone a remarkable transformation, particularly in recent times. “The transition from traditional brick-and-mortar classrooms of the pre-Google era to online platforms and the integration of technology into teaching and learning have marked a significant shift in the way knowledge is imparted. However, despite these advancements, the current education system still clings to a pre-generated AI approach, failing to tap into the full potential
of AI tools like ChatGPT,” Murugan Veloo said.
Kings University College has envisioned AI integrated education by infusing AI tools like ChatGPT into the curriculum and taking steps towards personalised and adaptive learning.
This will give a holistic education experience where the students not only gain subject knowledge but also develop essential skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and creativity. This not only augments the learning experience but also prepares students for
a world where AI will play an increasingly
Furthermore, student demands have changed and the current trend is towards fast-tracked studies, flexibility, and specialised skills that
will enable them to quickly start earning. So much so, that there is a higher tendency of school leavers not pursing higher education.
As Murugan Veloo said, “Our competitors are not other universities. It is Grab and Uber that we are losing our students to.”
Kings University College has therefore come up with a new framework which addresses the needs and demands of gig workers. Students will start with high end TVET courses which have apprenticeships at industry-run incubators, leading to diplomas and multiple micro-credentials as well as industry certification. They will start earning within the first six months of their studies, and will also graduate with experience thus paving the way for them to secure a senior-level position with a premium salary. They will also have the opportunity to continue their studies to obtain undergraduate or post-graduate degrees while they are employed.
Kings University College receiving university college status from the Minister of Higher Education Malaysia, YB Dato’ Seri Khaled Nordin.
Industry is Part of Us
Nothing encapsulates Kings University College’s partnership with industry better than the upcoming Education Innovation Hub that is currently being developed. Spanning four acres, this Hub will combine learning spaces with industry-run incubators, thereby providing students with hands-on work experiences doing apprenticeships in the incubators while also enjoying the benefits of industry-led education.
Another way in which Kings University College is unique as mentioned earlier is that it does not subscribed to a strict set system of courses. For instance, traditionally a person who studies Information Technology will only take modules in Information Technology. This is not the case in Kings University College, where students can choose to take modules that are not related
to their final degree or diploma through
Elaborating on this, Murugan revealed, “A student who is taking IT can also take up a course in hospitality management. And this exposes them to different disciplines and sometimes they find that they prefer the other course or they have an aptitude
Aside from its degree and diploma programmes, Kings University College also offers micro-credentialing courses, which are bite-sized modules which help boost the student’s capabilities and capacities in a focused area. These include modules in cyber security, AI, Data Analytic, IoT, Cloud Computing, hospitality, early childhood and so on.
In many ways, Kings University College’s focus on multi-modular education can be traced back to Murugan Veloo’s own life experiences – having shifted from studying psychology to being an entrepreneur in the education field. He understands the importance of spreading out one’s horizons and is now giving students the opportunity to explore avenues beyond
There is no doubt that the methodology employed by Kings University College is providing the solution to the problem of graduate employability which we had discussed earlier.
In fact, during an event held in August this year, the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education recognised Kings University College as a key partner in providing high -end technical and vocational education and training (TVET) students, with opportunities to pursue higher education.
Students and faculty of Kings University College during the Graduation Ceremony in 2022.
Murugan Veloo minced no words when he said that one of the biggest problems we have in Malaysian higher education is that the universities and colleges are not producing the right graduates – graduates who know what industries want and are ready to work. And this leads to an unfortunate situation where these graduates need to be ‘upskilled’. Kings University College is ensuring that this is no longer the case. And that is why it can be rightfully called the Model of the Future of Education.