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They need passports to go to schoolIskandar Educity has 100 students from S’pore who cross Second Link each day By Jane Ng16 September 2012 More than 100 children from Singapore travel to Johor daily to go to school in Malaysia’s new education hub, Iskandar Educity.They include Singaporeans as well as children of expatriates based in Singapore.Some families have also moved to Johor so the children can be closer to school, and the parents commute to Singapore for work.The education centre in the Nusajaya township, just across the Second Link in Tuas, has a cluster of schools of various levels, from pre-school to university.Three have Singapore operators - the Management Development Institute of Singapore, Raffles University Iskandar and Raffles American School.Others include Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia, the Netherlands Maritime Institute of Technology and the University of Southampton.Marlborough College Malaysia, which opened two weeks ago, is a branch of Britain’s well-known Marlborough College, which counts Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, among its alumni.Principal Robert Pick said half of its 350 students aged between four and 15 commute daily from Singapore. He declined to give the breakdown, but said expatriates outnumbered Singaporeans.The children are picked up by a fleet of buses from their homes in Singapore from 7am to make the commute to Malaysia via the Second Link.They are “fast-tracked” across the border using a Malaysian Automated Clearance System pass that does not require their passports to be stamped, and the children do not have to get off the buses.The journey takes about 40 to 50 minutes on a good day and over an hour if there is heavy traffic.The school declined to give contacts of Singaporean parents, and those approached by The Sunday Times did not want to be interviewed.But one British expatriate who commutes daily with her three children is Ms Joanna Ackerly, an events manager at the college. She drives her three children aged six, eight and 10 from their home in central Singapore to Johor and back every day.She said she was attracted to Marlborough’s small class size of 18 pupils, academic reputation and holistic philosophy, as well as its sprawling campus.The long twice-a-day commutes were better than she expected, she said.To save on travelling time, some parents have moved to Johor.Ms Daphne Ashford-Smith, 35, a partner in a wealth management company who lived in Singapore for eight years, moved to Johor last month with her husband, managing director Robert Smith, 34, and their two daughters aged 41/2 and 18 months.The couple commute daily to Singapore for work, while elder daughter Tahliah attends Marlborough College. The younger daughter is in a childcare centre near Mrs Ashford-Smith’s workplace.They decided to place Tahliah in Marlborough because she could not get a place at the international school of their choice in Singapore.“Tahliah had been on the waiting list for two years and they had no space for her until 2014 at the earliest. We had also tried to look at other schools but found that they also had long waiting lists or were simply not aligned with our requirements,” she said.She visited Marlborough College and liked the emphasis on extra-curricular activities.“We would never find the time to take Tahliah to any classes ourselves. They have been offering the children opportunities to try different classes and decide which they like,” she said.Other schools in the Iskandar area have also drawn Singapore students.Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia launched its Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery degree course in 2009 and moved into its new campus last year.Its 120 undergraduates include a handful of Singaporeans. When the new term begins at the end of the month, a few more will be among the intake of 100.
Singaporean Adiel Haqiq Hussien, 23, enrolled in the five-year medical course after completing his national service last year, and starts his second year at the end of the month.He said he chose the university’s Johor campus over several others in Britain because the tuition and accommodation costs were considerably lower.He stays on campus during term time. His parents, a doctor and a housewife, live in Johor and his siblings study in Singapore.Another school in Iskandar which opened recently, Raffles American School, now has just nine students, two of whom are Singaporean siblings aged 11 and 14.Their family moved to Johor, said school superintendent Rob Mockrish. The school can take in 120 for now and will eventually have boarding facilities for 450 students.Raffles University Iskandar and the Netherlands Maritime Institute of Technology now have only Malaysian students but plan to take in international students next year.
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