Malaysia approaches open road

August 16, 1996

The Malaysian government looks set to approve at least two privately-run universities this summer, including an open technical university in Port Dickson and a national institute of engineering in Bangi.

The Negri Sembilan state government on the west coast of the Malaysian peninsular has agreed to the establishment of a technical university in Port Dickson by a private company. To be called the Universiti Technologi Islam, the institution will be set up as soon as it receives a government licence .

The university will be located on a 40-hectare site in Pasir Panjang, 15 kilometres from the seaside resort town of Port Dickson, said local leader Menteri Besar Tan Sri Mohamad lsa Abdul Samad.

It will be the first university in the country to operate as an open university similar those in the United Kingdom, the United States and Japan. At a cost of M$15 million (Pounds 3.9 million) the first phase of the construction is expected to be finished by the end of the year.

The first batch of 200 students will begin next January, with staff made up of both local and foreign lecturers.

UTI will enable a further 3,000 to 4,000 people to take engineering and other technical courses in line with the government's long-term industrialisation objectives.

The government's master plan says the country requires 36,000 engineers by the year 2000. At the moment there are only 18,900.

The university will offer diploma, degree and postgraduate courses in electronic, mechanical, civil and chemical engineering. At a later date it will also offer hotel catering and management programmes.

The government meanwhile looks certain to grant a licence to Malaysian corporation Tenaga National Berhad in response to its proposal for converting the existing Tenaga National Institute of Engineering Technology (Ikatan) and its new M$750 million campus in Bangi into a university.

Tenaga corporation officials met recently with education minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak to finalise the terms and conditions of a licence. Tenaga chief executive Tan Sri Ani Arope said he was confident Ikatan would be ready for its first intake of students in July 1997.

Ikatan will not be changing its name to include the word university, preferring to follow the Massachusetts Institute of Technology model. Thus Tenaga looks set to become the second Malaysian corporation, along with Telekom Malaysia Berhad, to set up a private university.

Fifty per cent of the work has been done on the institute's first phase of construction which is scheduled for completion this month.

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