AFTER over nine decades, Xiamen University, China has come a full circle with the start of construction work for its Malaysian campus this month.
The university was founded in 1921 by the late entrepreneur and philanthropist Tan Kah Kee, a Chinese businessman who achieved success in Malaysia in the early 20th century — to the point that he was dubbed the “Henry Ford of Malaya”.
To be constructed on a 60ha site in Salak Tinggi, Sepang, the Xiamen University Malaysia Campus will be designed in the “Tan Kah Kee architectural style” like its three other campuses in China.
With a planned total floor space of 470,000sq metres, the campus aims to cater to 10,000 students when it is fully operational.
Five faculties will be set up in the university’s first phase of construction; the School of Information Science and Technology; the School of Ocean and Environment; the School of Economics and Management; the School of Chinese Language and Culture; and the School of Medicine.
The campus will also include six student residences, student activity centres and sporting facilities.
The university also plans to run as a non-profit institution here, where surplus funds will be channelled back into research or used to fund scholarships for students.
It will offer undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral courses, and graduates will be granted academic degrees from Xiamen University.
Attending the groundbreaking ceremony of the campus last week, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the campus was symbolic of the bonds between China and Malaysia.
Najib added that aside from attracting high quality students from abroad, the university will also provide more tertiary options for local students.
“Not everyone can study abroad, but now Malaysian students will be able to undertake a global education at a reasonable cost right here in Malaysia,” he said.
Najib elaborated on the cooperation between China and Malaysia, saying that the university’s groundbreaking ceremony was symbolic of the friendship between both countries.
“It will not be long until a diverse student body composed of young people from China, Malaysia and the Asean nations will be educated here.
“Graduating classes will leave this campus with mutual understanding and respect gained from living and studying together at this university.
Xiamen University president Prof Zhu Chongsi highlighted the historical link between Xiamen University and Malaysia, saying that the new campus will be a continuation of established ties.
“Since its inception, Xiamen University has set principles as a learning institution, to foster and education people of talent, to develop knowledge and to promote world culture.
“In accordance with these principles and the school motto of ‘Pursuing excellence and striving for perfection’, Xiamen University will make every effort to build its Malaysian campus into a world-class university, so as to cultivate specialised talents for Malaysia as well as Southeast Asia, and make our due contribution to the prosperity and progress of Malaysia,” he said.
MCA president and Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the setting up of the university will help boost university excellence in Malaysia.
“This shows that the Malaysia-China relationship is not just at government level, but is also strong among its people.
“MCA is committed to attracting more international and Chinese students to Malaysia,” he said.
The Prime Minister’s special envoy to China Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting said he was pleased that a renowned Chinese university had chosen Malaysia as the destination for its first branch campus.
“The estimated cost of the whole campus is RM1.3bil; this is because it will have all the facilities of a full fledged campus,” he said.
The university is expected to admit its first batch of 500 students by September 2015. — By PRIYA KULASAGARAN