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Exclusive Interview with Mr R.B. Pick

Jan 2013. For the 3rd In Conversation exclusive interview series, we have Mr R.B. Pick, Master of Marlborough College Malaysia, i.e. the first overseas campus of Marlborough College in the UK.'s Team has contacted and prepared a 12-question interview for Mr Pick to share his thoughts with us recently. Here are excerpts of the interview with the friendly Mr Pick:

rbp    marlborough-college-malaysia


1) We would like our viewers to know you better. Would you mind to share with us somethings about your background and your current role in Iskandar Malaysia?

I am the current Master of Marlborough College Malaysia (MCM), having been a House Master at Marlborough College, England for 32 years. I am married to Ali and have two daughters.

2) On 23rd August 1843 Marlborough College in the UK opened its doors to welcome its first cohort of pupils. Almost 169 years to the day, the first overseas campus of Marlborough College has opened in Iskandar Malaysia. We are very honoured and proud to have Marlborough College Malaysia in Iskandar. Could you share with us why Iskandar has been selected?

Iskandar offered by far the best proposal of all those considered. In Iskandar, we have a partner who believes in the education we are providing rather than its own financial gain. We have a government who sees us as an asset to their rapidly developing region.

3) On 27th August 2012, Marlborough College Malaysia, the first overseas campus of leading independent, co-educational day and boarding school, Marlborough College UK, has opened its doors to welcome 350 founding pupils. Could you update us on the profiles of these students and academic staffs involved? What are the plans in place to ensure the school to grow to a maximum capacity of 1,350 by 2018?

Almost half the children are day pupils who travel to Malaysia from Singapore. Some arrive with their parents and many take advantage of the fleet of busses which collect the children from their homes and fast-track them across the border.

Some families have relocated to Johor so that their children can be closer to the school and their parents commute to Singapore for work.

In the Senior School, approximately 40% of the pupils are boarders comprising of pupils from Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and as far afield as Britain, Bangladesh, China, Denmark, Australia and Japan.

The remaining population are Malaysian residents.

There are currently over 30 different nationalities at the school.

There are approximately 50 teachers at the school, the majority of whom are expatriate.

Most MCM teachers have either taught at Marlborough College UK, at a British International School or at a British Curriculum school in the UK.

The majority of the non-teaching staff at the school is Malaysian.

The school will grow incrementally towards full capacity in 2018.

For the academic year 2013 – 2014 we are adding one new class per year group. Places for the forthcoming academic year 2013- 2014 are limited with some year groups being full.  

4) We understand that there are students who commute daily from Singapore to study in Marlborough College Malaysia. How is the day like for this group of students? What are the plans and measures from Marlborough College Malaysia and Iskandar Malaysia to ensure the students have a pleasant and seamless daily crossing border experience?

Approximately half our pupils come across the border from Singapore each day. Some are driven by their parents, the remainder travel in a Marlborough College Malaysia mini-bus. There are two adults on the bus with the children who take good care of the passports. The children are picked up from their homes and arrive at the school in good time for the start of the school day at 8.30am.

The school day ends at 4.45pm when the children return home.

The school has been well supported by both the Malaysian and Singaporean immigration departments and continually looks for ways to improve the journey time. All pupils carry the MACS pass (Malaysia Automated Clearance System) which fast tracks them through the border and ensures their passports do not require stamping.

5) What are the latest developments taking place in Marlborough College Malaysia and what can be expected by 2013 and beyond?

Marlborough College Malaysia’s first phase build was completed in August 2012. During years 1 – 3, we will expand pupil numbers from 350 – 800.

Phase 2 building development will take place in 2014/15.

The school will reach capacity by 2018.

6) We hope to see more collaborations and exchange programmes between Marlborough College Malaysia and local schools in Iskandar Malaysia. Such cross-schools programmes will ensure foreign students and academic staffs to have a better understanding on local culture, heritage and history. Such diverse experiences will surely benefits to the students and academic staffs. Could you share with us any plans from Marlborough College Malaysia towards this direction?

We believe that cross cultural exchanges for pupils and teachers will be a valuable and exciting part of the curriculum at Marlborough College Malaysia.

We have already formed sporting links with schools in Johor and an association with SK Sungai Melayu (Primary School), the focus of our Outreach Programme. Our plans for the New Year include supporting an orphanage based in Johor.

7) Iskandar Malaysia turns 7 this year! You have been with Marlborough College Malaysia since its inception. Could you share with us your experience in marketing the school then and now?

We have held a series of information sessions and Open Days at the school and find we are attracting parents who are familiar with the school and who wish to buy into the education that we offer.

8) Few private and international schools will be ready in various parts of Iskandar Malaysia especially in Bandar Seri Alam in next few years. Raffles American School’s permanent campus will be ready in 2014 as well and is located opposite to Marlborough College Malaysia’s campus. What is your view on increasing options to parents and students in term of international or private schools in Iskandar? What makes Marlborough College Malaysia remain in the forefront in the competition in education industry?

Parents and pupils need options as one school will not suit everybody. Having choices is the basis of democracy and Iskandar Malaysia should be no different to anywhere else in a democratic country.

However, it is important that the market does not become saturated with international or private schools in Iskandar, as this will lead to non-financially viable institutions, which would result in them having a short term presence in the region. It is a delicate balancing act and it is vital that the master planners for the region are aware of this and react according to demand and not simply the desire to sell further plots of land.

MCM will remain as one option for parents. We will provide what we hope will be an attractive educational package to prospective parents based on an all-round holistic education, backed by our sister school in England with 170 years of history and experience behind it.

9) In less than 30 words, how would you promote Iskandar Malaysia to our potential students and their parents?

I can only speak for Marlborough College Malaysia and invite you to come and have a look at what we offer to our pupils. If you would like to attend to our Open Day at the School on Saturday 19th January, please register your interest at

10) Where is your favourite hang-out place in Iskandar Malaysia and why?

My new home, The Master’s Lodge at Marlborough College or at Horizon Hills, Golf Club.

11) Which part of Iskandar Malaysia you’re staying?

I’m living on the school campus in Nusajaya.

12) Could you share with us your aspirations and resolutions for 2013 from Iskandar Malaysia and personal’s perspectives?

My aspirations are to make Marlborough College Malaysia a beacon of academic excellence.

For more details on Marlborough College Malaysia, please visit

Marlborough College Malaysia Campus Tour:


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