The need for the establishment of an institution of higher learning for the Malays was first brought up at the Malay Rulers’ Durbar (Mesyuarat Raja-raja Melayu) in 1903. Za’ba, a renowned Malay scholar, wrote about the setting up of such an establishment in the Lembaga Melayu (Malay Board), a Malay newspaper in 1917.
Serious discussions and debates on it with Bahasa Melayu as the medium of instruction began in 1923 when Abdul Kadir Adabi, another Malay scholar submitted a memorandum suggesting the setting up of such an institution to the DYMM Sultan of Kelantan. Unfortunately the suggestion was not given its due because of various factors and especially pressures from the colonial powers. The idea remained on the shelf and only resurrected after the country attained its independence in 1957.
The move to have a national university gained momentum during the 10 years after independence. This culminated with the setting up of a steering committee by a group of Malays scholars in 1968 to seriously work towards the setting up of such an institution. Various discussion groups as well as forums were held to garner support from the people and the authorities for the establishment of such a university to lend greater respectability to Bahasa Melayu through its usage as the medium of instruction in all fields of study and knowledge.
All the efforts and passion of the group of nationalists paid off when Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) was founded on 18 May 1970. The first batch of undergraduate students was registered and enrolled in the first three faculties set up; the Faculty of Science, Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Islamic Studies in May 1970.
UKM has since seen tremendous growth in being able to provide an increasing number of places of learning for the people as well undertaking research in various disciplines and fields of study. It now has 12 faculties, a Graduate School of Business (GSB-UKM), as well as 14 research institutes. UKM has also set up the UKM Holdings Sdn. Bhd, operating as a commercial entity to benefit from all the expertise it has while also generating income for the University.
UKM Holdings Sdn. Bhd was founded in 2001 to coordinate the administration of the various sub-entities under its management, namely the Centre of Educational Expansion (PKP), UKM Kesihatan Sdn. Bhd., UKM Pakarunding Sdn. Bhd., UKM Perunding Kejuruteraan dan Arkitek Sdn. Bhd., Akademi Latihan Kebersihan dan Keselamatan Makanan (ALKEM), Food Quality Research Unit (Unipeq), Puri Pujangga and Talent Enhancement Academy.
The university’s main campus in Bangi, Selangor Darul Ehsan spans an area of 1,096.29 hectares approximately 35 kilometres from Kuala Lumpur. The campus is situated in a valley surrounded by hills and green areas, providing a serene and conducive environment for learning and knowledge exploration. The faculties and institutes housed in the main campus are the Faculty of Economics and Business, Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, Faculty of Islamic Studies, Faculty of Science and Technology, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Faculty of Law, Faculty of Education, Faculty of Technology and Information Sciences, Graduate School of Business (GSB-UKM), Institute of Malay World and Civilisation (ATMA), Institute of Environment and Development (LESTARI), Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS), Institute of Occidental Studies (IKON), Institute of Space Science (ANGKASA), Institute of Microengineering and Nanoelectronics (IMEN), Institute of Systems Biology (INBIOSIS), Institute of Solar Research (SERI), Fuel Cell Institute (SEL FUEL), Institute of Islamic Hadhari (HADHARI), Institute of West Asian Studies (IKRAB), Institute of Ethnic Studies (KITA), Institute of South East Asian Disaster Prevention Research UKM (SEADPRI-UKM), Centre of Graduate Management, Centre of General Studies, Students Development Centre and other centres of service.
In addition UKM also has a 20 hectares medical campus in Jalan Raja Muda Abdul Aziz, Kuala Lumpur which houses the Faculty of Medicine (Pre-clinical), Faculty of Allied Health Sciences, Faculty of Dentistry and Faculty of Pharmacy. UKM Medical Centre (UKMMC), which is located in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur cover an area of 22.3 hectares, is to meet the needs of medical services education as well as medical research. UKMMC consists of a hospital, the Faculty of Medicine and the Institute of Medical Molecular Research (UMBI).
In its 39 years of existence, UKM has produced a total of 131,259 graduates consisting of 113,975 first degree holders, 15,895 masters graduates and 1,389 PhDs. This is from more than 103 undergraduate and 170 postgraduate programmes offered. There is also an increasing number of foreign students studying at the university lending credence to international acceptance of its various fields of study and research. Currently a total of 2,415 international students from 55 countries are enrolled at the university.
Based on its record of excellence in multi-discipline researches in the past three decades, UKM has been chosen as one of the four research universities in Malaysia in 2006. That recognition has gained further ground when the Malaysia Genome Institute (MGI) and the International Institute of Global Health, United Nations University were set up at the university. Its areas of research were further consolidated and enhanced with the identification of eight niche areas; Challenges to Nation Building, Sustainable Territorial Development, Renewable Energy, Health and Medical Technology, Climate Change, Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials, Biological Diversity in Biotechnology Development and ICT: Content Informatics.
UKM is also the recipient of the Prime Minister’s Quality Award 2006, a recognition of its excellent achievements in the academic and management fields. With these strong foundations, UKM aims at not just sustaining but also enhancing its level of excellence via its 2000-2020 (PS2020) Strategic Plan in line with its slogan, ‘Inspiring Hopes, Nurturing The Future’. All these developments has brought about greater confidence among its staff to continue upgrading their capabilities while enhancing their talents in a conducive, healthy and supportive environment as provided by the university.
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