SEPANG: Malaysia has been chosen as the venue for the first overseas branch campus for a top university in China, Xiamen University, in 2015.
The university, which is listed among the top 20 universities in China, was founded by famous Malaysian rubber magnate Tan Kah Kee in 1921.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the branch campus would be built on a 150-acre site at Salak Tinggi, near here and was expected to be operational in September 2015.
"The Malaysian government has given approval in principle to Xiamen University to set up its first overseas campus here.
"The invitation is historic because this is the first time that the Chinese government has allowed one of its universities to set up its campus abroad," he told reporters after meeting with the president of Xiamen University, Prof Zhu Chongshi and a 20-member delegation at the Bunga Raya Complex, KL International Airport (KLIA), here for about 30 minutes on Monday.
Najib also witnessed the handing over of the invitation letter by the Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin to Zhu. Also present was the Prime Minister's Special envoy to China and Chairman of the Malaysia-China Business Council Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting.
The Prime Minister said an agreement for the establishment of the branch campus would also be signed in early February during the launch of the Kuantan Industrial Park in Pahang.
He said the branch campus of the Xiamen University was expected to take in 10,000 students in the first stage with Malaysians representing one-third of the enrolment, and another one-third comprising Chinese nationals while the remaining one-third would be students from Asean member countries and non-Asean members.
He said five faculties would be set up at the branch campus here namely electrical bio-engineering and chemical engineering, medical school, ICT, Business and Economics, and Chinese language and literature.
"The establishment of the branch campus would turn Malaysia into an educational hub in this region," he said adding that English language would be the medium of instruction.
He said that the University of Xiamen, which is a non-profit making university would use all the income gained from the branch campus here for reinvestment so that the campus here would reflect a university that had attained an excellent educational quality.
Meanwhile, Najib said the setting up of the first branch campus in Malaysia was most meaningful in terms of bilateral relations between Malaysia and China.
"This development was made possible after I had stated to Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao in April last year in Nanning, China that Malaysia welcomes the intention of the University of Xiamen to set up its branch in Malaysia.
"As a result of the discussion, Wen gave his approval for the project to be implemented," he said while thanking the deputy president of the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM), Datuk Ter Leong Yap who provided the funds for the land for the campus.
Meanwhile, Zhu thanked the Malaysian government, the prime minister and the Higher Education Ministry for the effort in setting up the university's first branch campus here.
"This represents another meaningful cooperation between Malaysia and China in the field of education besides economic, trade, science and technology, and cultural cooperation to boost bilateral relations," he said.
Zhu said the cost of setting up the branch campus was estimated to be about RM600mil, of which RM400mil would be spent during the first stage of its establishment.
"With a ratio of 15 students to one lecturer, about 700 teaching staff would be required for the branch campus that would be set up. The university has begun the process of recruiting the teaching staff from all over the world," he said, adding that lecturers from the Xiamen University in China were also keen to work here.
Zhu said the tuition fees would follow the standard in this country and the University Xiamen-Malaysia scholarship would be provided to assist poor students who had achieved outstanding academic performance.