Friday, May 27, 2011


How to spot a lecturer at Limkokwing, the newest university in Swaziland: they’re dressed from head to toe in black.

And so are their colleagues at Limkokwing in Lesotho ....and Botswana ... and in Malaysia where the university is based ... and in every campus that it has across the world.

Tan Sri Dato Lim Kok Wing, the owner and founder of the university, likes to think of his university as a bit of a cult. And like all cult leaders, he’s a bit bonkers too.

So why does he make his staff dress in black? He says he wants to build Limkokwing as a ‘brand’. Most of us thought the best way to ‘sell’ universities was to do high quality teaching and research and offer top quality courses.

But not at Limkokwing: it’s about your shirt and trousers.

Lim Kok Wing told the Star newspaper in Malaysia, It is a conscious effort to build the brand. Black traditionally is seen as a colour for mourning in some cultures, but these days you can see that black has become very fashionable, especially among the young. I use black as a team builder and as a result, we are known for wearing black. It has become part of the branding and our brand personality.’

Limkokwing University has been under fire in Botswana and Lesotho for the poor quality of its teaching staff and courses. So what does Lim Kok Wing do when there are complaints about quality?

‘We take immediate action and it starts by gathering facts to ascertain the validity of the complaints. I hold regular talks with all lecturers to instil my philosophy of what we must do to ensure our students do well in their studies. It is my belief that no student should fail,’ he told the Star.

‘If there are failures, then it is we who have failed them. I encourage all our lecturers to be good to students, to be kind and respectful because students have given us the opportunity to build this university. There is no university where there are no students.’

That gibberish must be music to the ears of students. Even the dullest and laziest will pass their courses, because teachers will be too scared to fail them.

Employers take note also. You won’t be able to judge whether a graduate from Limkokwing deserves their degree or they just got one for signing up for courses.

And lastly, here’s how Lim Kok Wing says he helps his academic staff to improve themselves and the quality of their teaching.

‘The university ecosystem revolves around creativity and innovation. It is the same in all the campuses we have set up in three continents. Creativity is such that those involved will seek better solutions and better quality.

‘Therefore, it is a challenge for anyone working with the university. Not everyone makes it.

‘Those with the right mindset respond and find they can build themselves to a higher level.

‘Those that don’t, could not get out of the comfort zones they have built into their minds.

‘Lecturers must empower themselves to meet the standards set by their students.’

The Swazi Government has committed about E16 million (US$2 million) a year to the university. Lim Kok Wing must be laughing all the way to the bank.

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