A fifteenth anniversary is a milestone in anyone’s book, and building a university from scratch - and seeing it grow from strength to strength - is certainly worth celebrating.
Starting with just 411 undergraduate students in eight bachelor degree programmes, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) opened its Petaling Jaya campus doors on Aug 13, 2002.
“UTAR is now a reputable premier university with some 26,000 students enrolled. It has produced over 50,000 graduates and offers 110 programmes,” said UTAR president Prof Datuk Dr Chuah Hean Teik during the 15th anniversary celebrations at its Sungai Long branch campus on Thursday.
Teaching and research excellence is what the university strives for.
“With our 29 research centres and graduate research network, we collaborate with international researchers on various projects,” he said.
Prof Chuah said UTAR has charted many firsts and progressed with numerous accomplishments.
Under the 2013 Rating System for Malaysian Higher Education Institutions (SETARA), UTAR obtained Tier 5 or excellent status. In the same year, its Engineering and Health Science programmes were rated Tier 5 and Tier 4 under the D-SETARA.
In 2015, Prof Chuah said UTAR consolidated its Klang Valley campuses to its Sungai Long Campus.
UTAR entered the Times Higher Education (THE) Young University Rankings 2017 for the first time and was ranked in the 101st to 150th band together with Universiti Putra Malaysia and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.
It also made it into the Top 120 bracket of THE’s Asia Universities ranking 2017. UTAR was awarded self-accreditation status by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency in March this year.
“Such recognition does not only strengthen our position as an educational institution in the country but also the region and even the world.
“It also reflects the dedication and commitment of the people who want to see UTAR succeed and jointly made success a reality for the university,” he said.
Prof Chuah said UTAR’s aspirations for the future includes a hospital in Kampar that will serve the local and nearby communities with support from its Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.
“The university sees a great future for healthcare, traditional and complementary medicine, elder care and specialised services,” he added.
MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, who launched the event, described UTAR as a “dream come true”.
He thanked the university’s founder Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik, saying that it was heartening to see him still contributing to UTAR and leading several charity projects.
“To some people, 15 years seems young for a university but it is now considered as one of the reputable leading universities in Malaysia,” he said.
UTAR, he added, will be graduating 2,451 students next week and they will be joining the more than 50,000 alumni.
“Looking at the number of students today and reading about the success stories since its inception, I believe UTAR has gotten the right formula in seeking teaching, learning and research excellence.
“More importantly, it has created a nurturing environment conducive enough to stimulate the students’ quest for knowledge, as well as grooming them to be outstanding individuals who will proceed to make contributions,” he said.
The MCA, he added, would continue to lend support to UTAR for the provision of quality and affordable higher education. Liow said the MCA shares the same views with UTAR in contributing towards the community and nation in the provision of quality education for the youths to meet the human resource needs of the country.
Dr Ling who is UTAR chancellor, paid tribute to Malaysians who had contributed to set up the main campus in Kampar, which cost RM200mil.
“I could never forget all the jogathons and marathons, the thousands of taxi drivers who turned up one day for a donation drive (for UTAR),” he said.
UTAR Research, Development and Commercialisation vice-president Prof Dr Lee Sze Wei said the varsity is certainly growing towards having a significant role to play not just in Malaysia, but across the world.
He said UTAR will continue emphasising on teaching and research excellence to become a successful university.
“There are challenges and constraints but nothing will stop us from achieving our dreams of making UTAR a well recognised university in the world,” he added.
Liow encouraged students to appreciate and learn from their journey as varsity students as it will improve their career prospects and progression in life.
“A university helps build your leadership skills and encourages you to be independent and creative. Thus, use these skills to build a network and become leading experts in your field,” he added.
Speaking to a room full of students, Liow urged them to continue learning.
“There is no end to learning, it is a lifelong process. Do not stop learning when you leave this university - be hungry to learn in every stage of your life and use your good education in UTAR to be responsible leaders in society,” he said.
Since June 2015, UTAR has been operating in two permanent campuses in Kampar and Sungai Long.
Those present at the celebrations include UTAR Council chairman Tan Sri Dr Ting Chew Peh, Deputy Education Minister Datuk Chong Sin Woon, MCA vice presidents Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun and Datuk Dr Hou Kok Chung, UTAR founding president Tan Sri Dr Ng Lay Swee and UTAR Board of Trustees chairman Tan Sri Dr Sak Cheng Lum.