Royal Vision for Oxford University’s Southeast Asian Studies Centre

19 March 2019

His Royal Highness Sultan Nazrin Shah, the Deputy King of Malaysia, has detailed the vision for a new world-leading Centre for Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Oxford.

HRH The Sultan was speaking at a celebration dinner in support of the new Centre attended by the Chancellor of Oxford University, Lord Patten of Barnes and Professor Sarah Whatmore, Head of the University’s Division of Social Sciences.

Speaking at the dinner in Kuala Lumpur His Royal Highness gave further details of the new academic Centre, which was launched at Oxford’s historic Sheldonian Theatre last October and of which he is patron. The Centre will be part of the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies, creating a dedicated focus for research and teaching excellence in academic study of the ASEAN countries.

Sultan Nazrin, who serves as Chancellor of the University of Malaya and is himself a political economist and active scholar, said: “I hope that the Centre will not only produce outstanding research, but also communicate it to the world. I want both Oxford graduates and the general public to learn more about the excellent research of leading scholars from the region, giving people an insight into how human experience might be theorised and understood from Southeast Asia’s vantage point.”

Oxford University’s Chancellor and the former Governor of Hong Kong, Lord Patten of Barnes, thanked HRH the Sultan for his work as sponsor on the project. Lord Patten said: ““There could not be anyone better and more qualified to do this. We are particularly delighted, because this is such an important project for us. We want to create the best centre for studying, researching and teaching about Southeast Asia, not just in Britain, but in Europe. Southeast Asia is probably the most significant archipelago in the world with a hugely important part to play in the 21st century. Its challenges range from environmental sustainability, to issues of regional governance. We look forward to collaborating with the universities and businesses in the region in creating a centre which is equal to the exciting tasks which lie ahead.”

The Centre for Southeast Asian Studies is expected to create research and teaching opportunities to be shared across several departments including Geography and the Environment, Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, Politics and International Relations, Development Studies, and History. The aim is for it to be fully established in the next two to three years

Oxford has been rated overall number one in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for three successive years. Oxford is also top-ranked globally for the Social Sciences. Establishing Southeast Asian Studies as an area of dedicated focus will further strengthen the University’s research and global reach.

For further information, or pictures of the event, please contact Stephen Rouse, Oxford University News and Information Office on +44 (0)1865 280533 or

Note to Editors:

HRH Sultan Nazrin Shah has served as Co-Chair of the United Nations High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing, as well as Malaysia’s Special Envoy for Interfaith and Inter-Civilisational Dialogue at the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC). He is also Patron of the Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre; Fellow of the Chancellor’s Court of Benefactors at the University of Oxford; Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies; Honorary Fellow of Worcester College, Oxford, and of Magdalene College and St Edmund’s College, both Cambridge. An Oxford graduate in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (BA Hons), he also holds higher degrees in Public Administration (Masters) and Political Economy and Government (PhD) from Harvard University

His Royal Highness is the author of Charting the Economy (OUP, 2017) and has published academic papers on the history and the economy of Malaysia.