Founded in 1969, the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) – the second university to be established in the country – is one of Malaysia’s leading science universities. With a total of 30,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students, it is also one of the country’s largest.
Courses at USM are offered in a number of scientific disciplines, including natural sciences, medical sciences, and building sciences and technology, along with courses in arts, humanities and education.
Alongside the university’s three academic campuses, it also has 17 research centres dedicated to a range of specialisations, including archaeology, policy research and international studies.
USM rejects the traditional university faculty system, opting instead for a ‘school’ system supported by a large array of extracurricular activities, which they believe offers students a more interdisciplinary and well-rounded experience, producing graduates that are multi-skilled.
The university also advocates accessible education for all and, in 1971, introduced a School of Distance Learning for those in full time employment, offering bachelor programmes in Arts, Science, Social Science and Management.
Other programmes aimed at widening participation include its ‘Bottom 40% Households’ initiative which supports economically disadvantaged students to access higher education.
Student wellbeing is central to the university’s policies, and services provided for students include counselling and motivational guidance. Most of USM’s students opt to stay in the university’s student village, which provides halls of residence, or ‘hostels’ as they are commonly referred to in Malaysia, as well as a cultural hall and sports facilities with an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
Other university facilities include a museum, a fine art gallery, a bookshop and a number of pavilions.
USM’s main campus is located on Penang Island with another two branch campuses in Kelantan and Nibong Tebal.