KUALA LUMPUR: Masterskill Education Group Bhd (MEGB), which has obtained shareholders' approval to rename the group as Asiamet Education Group Bhd, is cautiously optimistic of its one-year turnaround plan. Executive director Datuk R Palan said it will look at cost efficiency and offer programmes that are in demand to boost student enrollment at its Asia Metropolitan University (AMU) campuses. "We'd like to turn around the business operationally, not in terms of properties or assets being sold off (one-off gain)," he told a press conference after its AGM and EGM here last Friday. He said AMU will continue to have a focus on medicine, pharmacy, physiotherapy, allied sciences and management courses. "In the past, there was an intense focus on nursing but that has been on a downtrend and decline. While we're trying to continue to see how best we can retain the knowledge on nursing, that's not the priority now. "We just have to recognise the fact that it's not going to be sustainable focusing on nursing. We'd like to engage with partnerships with the industry, such as with hospitals and have a small presence in nursing," said Palan. MEGB has been in the red since 2012 as it faced steep decline in student enrolments and revenues, leading to huge losses that have been attributed to overdependence on nursing programmes and reduction in National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loans. Palan, who is also chairman and CEO of SMRT Holdings Bhd, had last year partnered private equity firm Creador to acquire MEGB from former major shareholder and executive director Siva Kumar M. Jeyapalan and are attempting to restore respect and quality to the university, as well as to turn around MEGB's operations. "We believe education is a recession-proof industry. Whatever the situation, people will still invest in education," said Palan. It is targeting a 35% growth in students this year, from the current 2,087 students across its campuses in the country. "We need to turn around operationally, which means (having) good programmes, good faculties and students," he said, adding that it will invest in hiring the best faculty. Earlier at the EGM, shareholders also approved the sale of its property assets in Petaling Jaya and Masai, Johor to Brilland Property Sdn Bhd, a company controlled by Siva Kumar, for RM79.7 million cash. Palan said the group has six more properties to dispose of, which will be carried out via a tender process.