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The University of Malaya (Abbreviation: UM; ) is the oldest university in Malaysiamarker. The university motto is Ilmu Punca Kemajuan ( ).

It was recognised as one of the top universities in Malaysia but university rankings in recent years have seen the decline of UM's ranking .



In September 1904, Tan Jiak Kim led a group of representatives of the Chinese and other non-European communities, and petitioned the Governor of the Straits Settlements, Sir John Anderson, to establish a medical school in Singaporemarker. Tan, who was the first president of the Straits Chinese British Association, managed to raise $87,077, of which the largest amount of $12,000 came from himself. On 3 July 1905, the medical school was founded, and was known as the Straits and Federated Malay States Government Medical School. The medical library was first housed in the students' reading room within the school, converted from the vacant old female lunatic asylum in Sepoy Lines.

In 1912, the medical school received an endowment of $120,000 from the King Edward VII Memorial Fund, started by Dr Lim Boon Keng. Subsequently on 18 November 1913, the name of the school was changed to the King Edward VII Medical School. In 1921, it was again changed to the King Edward VII College of Medicine to reflect its academic status.

Evolution of the University of Malaya

In 1929, Raffles Collegemarker was established to promote arts and social sciences at tertiary level for Malayan students.

Establishment of the university

Two decades later, Raffles Collegemarker was merged with the King Edward VII College of Medicine to form the University of Malaya on 8 October 1949. The two institutions were merged to provide for the higher education needs of the Federation of Malayamarker and Singaporemarker.

The growth of UM was very rapid during the first decade of its establishment and resulted in the setting up of two autonomous divisions in 1959, one located in Singaporemarker and the other in Kuala Lumpurmarker.

Growth and consolidation

In 1960, the governments of the Federation of Malaysia and Singapore indicated their desire to change the status of the Divisions into that of a national university. Legislation was passed in 1961 establishing the former Kuala Lumpur division as the University of Malaya while the Singapore division was renamed the University of Singaporemarker, the predecessor of today's National University of Singaporemarker, on January 1, 1962.

On June 16, 1962, the university celebrated the installation of its first Chancellor, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia's first Prime Minister. The first Vice-Chancellor was former Dean, Sir Alexander Oppenheim, the world renowned mathematician who formulated the Oppenheim conjecture in 1929. When Oppenheim left in 1965 with no successor in sight, Rayson Huang who later went on to become the first Asian Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hong Kongmarker , was asked to take over as the Acting Vice Chancellor. He served in that capacity for 12 months but declined reappointment in order to return to academic pursuits .

Chin Fung Kee, an authority in geotechnical engineering , replaced Huang as Acting Vice-Chancellor until the university succeeded in filling the position in 1967 by the appointment of James H.E. Griffiths. A distinguished physicist and a fellow of Magdalen College, Griffiths was also the former head of Clarendon Laboratorymarker of Oxford Universitymarker and one of the discoverers of ferromagnetic resonance.


In 1968, economist Ungku Abdul Aziz succeeded Griffiths as Vice-Chancellor, making him the second Malaysian after Chin to be elevated to the highest executive office in UM and the first Malaysian to be appointed as full Vice-Chancellor. This development was a precursor to the introduction of ethnic quotas into public universities with the introduction of the New Economic Policy in 1971.

On May 1, 2006, the first woman Vice-Chancellor when former Dean of the Faculty of Law, Universiti Malaya and later assistant governor of Bank Negara Malaysia, Rafiah Salim, was appointed to the position .


In 2007, some controversy was generated when the THES - QS World University Rankings published by the Times Higher Education Supplement dropped UM from their list of Top 200 world universities . The rankings first came into scrutiny when the former Vice-Chancellor, Hashim Yaacob, highlighted that UM was ranked 89th in the THES - QS World University Rankings .

The progressive drop in the rankings in the subsequent years (169th in 2005, 192nd in 2006 and 246th in 2007) became an object of public questioning and controversy about the perceived declining standards of Malaysian universities and the apparent lackadaisical attitude of UM in addressing long standing issues . This prompted the Ministry of Higher Education to establish its own competitive ranking system between Malaysian public universities known as the Rating System for Malaysian Higher Education Institutions or SETARA following an Academic Reputation Survey conducted the year before . The results of the first SETARA exercise were published in 2008 and University of Malaya came out as the top university in the country. It was the only university which achieved a rating of 5 (out of maximum 6).

Organization and administration

UM is incorporated by an Act of Parliament with the passage of the University of Malaya Act 1961 which established the former Kuala Lumpur division of the University of Malaya incorporated by the University of Malaya Ordinance 1949 as an independent public university. Additional legislation such as the Degrees and Diplomas Act 1962 granted retrospective recognition and equivalency of degrees and diploma granted by predecessor institutions.

University of Malaya Law School

The Faculty of Law, University of Malaya provides a liberal education in law based on a comprehensive approach to law as an academic discipline. The Faculty also equips students with practical professional skills and professional ethics including a critical study of laws to satisfy the needs of organisations, social changes and justice.

Since its inception in 1972, the Faculty offers its Bachelor of Laws programme at the undergraduate level (LLB). The LLB programme represents a combination of the academic and professional disciplines which will entitle the holder of the degree to be admitted as an advocate and solicitor of the High Court at the end of his pupillage.

The Faculty of Law also offers the Masters in Law Programme (LLM) consisting of the Masters in Law by Coursework, Masters in Law by Dissertation and Masters in Law by Coursework and Dissertation. In addition, the Faculty also offers the Master in Criminal Justice (MCJ) and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programmes. The University is also empowered to confer the Doctor of Laws (LLD).

University of Malaya Medical Centre

University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC), the premier teaching hospital in the country, provides quality training to medical and para-medical students to become responsible members of the medical fraternity for imparting excellent and impassionate medical care to the society. We believe that access to latest medical information and a life-long learning attitude in all disciplines are essential for ensuring good health care services for our customers.

Our Faculty is responsible for undergraduate medical education as well as undergraduate and postgraduate education and training in the Life Sciences. Our vision is to become a Centre of Excellence in Medicine and our Mission is To become a Premier Medical Centre that is world renown and to provide excellent Health Care, Education and Research Programmes delivered with efficiency, sensitivity and enthusiasm

Established in 1965, our medical school currently runs a 5 year undergraduate entry medical program leading to an MBBS degree. In addition the Faculty also offers undergraduate degrees in Pharmacy, Biomedical Science and Nursing Science.

The Faculty of Medicine has strong research-oriented graduate programs leading to an M Sc or Ph D to train biomedical scientists for academia and industry. There are also Masters degree programme in various medical specialities, leading to an M.Med degree. Graduates of this program would have completed a 4 year specialised training programme and would be recognised as Clinical Specialists.

The Faculty has an excellent infrastructure for biomedical research as well as a very committed group of competent scientists and clinician-scientists who are actively engaged in teaching and high quality research. We are confident that we can take on future challenges in biomedical education and research and fulfil our vision to excel in education, research and provision of health care of the highest quality

Principal officers

The principal officers of UM are the Chancellor, three Pro-Chancellors, the Vice-Chancellor and four Deputy Vice-Chancellors, the Registrar, the Bursar, the Chief Librarian and the Director of the University of Malaya Medical Centre. The Chancellor and Pro-Chancellors are honorary positions with the Chancellor acting as the titular head of the university presiding over the Convocation. The current Chancellor is HRH Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak.

The Vice-Chancellor is the chief executive and academic officer of UM and is assisted by four Deputy Vice-Chancellors responsible for Student Affairs and Alumni, Academic and International Relations, Research and Innovation, and Development respectively.

List of principal officers

The following table is a list of the principal officers of the University of Malaya and her predecessors. Note that the office of the President of Raffles College was renamed Principal of Raffles College from 1938 .

(King Edward VII Medical College)
Presidents and Principals *
(Raffles College)
(From 1949)
(From 1949)
Gerald Dudley Freer 1905-1909 R. O. Winstedt 1928-1931 Malcolm John MacDonald 1949-1961 George V. Allen 1949-1952
Robert Donald Keith 1909-1918 James Watson 1932-1934 Tunku Abdul Rahman 1961-1972 Sydney Caine 1952-1956
George Hugh MacAlister 1918-1929 Frederick Joseph Morten 1935-1937 Sultanah Bahiyah of Kedah 1972-1986 Alexander Oppenheim 1956-1965
George V. Allen 1929-1941 Alexander Keir 1937-1938 Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak 1986- Rayson Huang (Acting) 1965-1966
Second World War 1941-1945 George McOwan 1938-1941 Chin Fung Kee (Acting) 1966-1967
George V. Allen 1946-1947 Second World War 1941-1945 J.H.E. Griffiths 1967-1968
Desmond William George Faris 1947-1949 W. E. Dyer 1946-1948 Ungku Abdul Aziz 1968-1988
George V. Allen 1948-1949 Syed Hussein Alatas
Mohd. Taib Osman 1991-1994
Abdullah Sanusi Ahmad 1994-2000
Anuar Zaini Md Zain 2000-2003
Hashim Yaacob 2003-2006
Rafiah Salim 2006-2008
Ghauth Jasmon 2008-

University authorities

The highest administrative body of UM is the Board of Directors comprising of one Chairperson, the Vice-Chancellor, two representatives from the Government of Malaysia, a community member, and three other professionals, one of whom is from the private sector. Office bearers, apart from the Vice-Chancellor, are appointed to a three year term by the Minister of Higher Education and the Board is currently headed by founding director of the MARA Institute of Technology (now Universiti Teknologi MARA), Arshad Ayub .

The Senate is the highest academic body of UM comprising of the Vice-Chancellor, the Deputy Vice-Chancellors, Deans and Directors of the academies, faculties, institutes, and centres as well as a selected number of professors. It has thecontrol and general direction of instruction, research and examination, and the award of degrees, diplomas, certificates and other academic distinctions in UM within its jurisdiction.


UM has three campuses, two located in Kuala Lumpurmarker and the other located in Kelantan.


The Main Campus is located in the suburb of Lembah Pantai, southwest of Kuala Lumpur. The campus has an area of 750 acres (3.0 km²) and is the original campus of the Kuala Lumpur division of the original University of Malaya. Most of the main administrative buildings and faculties are located here. The 80 hectare Rimba Ilmu Botanical Gardens are also located within the campus.


The City Campus is located in the Bukit Persekutuan area of Kuala Lumpur approximately 15 minutes away from the Main Campus. The University of Malaya Centre for Continuing Education, Institute of Principalship Studies, International Institute of Public Policy and Management, Graduate School of Business and the City Campus library are located here.


The Academy’s branch campus in Nilam Puri, Kelantan offers courses in Islamic foundation studies in Shariah, Usuluddin, Islamic Studies and Islamic Education with Science.

Varsity anthem

Universiti Malaya

Kebanggaan kita semua

Bertambah para ilmuwan

Di pelbagai lapangan

Kami bertekad di hati

Mencapai cita murni

Tradisi kecemerlangan

Menepati wawasan

Di sini kami sedia berbakti

Terus berinovasi

Kami harapan generasi muka

Teras nusa dan bangsa

Varsiti kesayanganku

Sungguh banyak jasamu

Membentuk insan mulia

Berilmu berbudaya

Residential colleges

The following campus residential halls offer lodgings and related services which may include facilities such as game courts, reading rooms, grocery shops, cyber cafes and computer labs.

Notable alumni

King Edward VII College of Medicine/Raffles College era (pre 1949)

University of Malaya era (1949 - present)

Notable faculty members

  • Cyril Northcote Parkinson, a former professor of history at the University (1950 to 1960)
  • Royal Professor Ungku Abdul Aziz Ungku Abdul Hamid, who once served as the university's vice chancellor
  • Wang Gungwu, a former Professor of History at the Department of History (left UM in 1968). Prof. Wang is the Director of East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore.
  • Khairuddin Mohamed Yusof, a former Professor of University Malaya and also a former Head of Obstetrics and Gynecology Department of the University Hospital. Retired in 1997 and was honored with the title of Emeritus by the University. Professor Emeritus Dato Paduka Dr. Khairuddin bin Mohamed Yusof is the Director of Telemedicine Malaysia (World Care Inc)
  • Khoo Kay Kim, a former Professor of Malaysian History at the Department of History. Retired in 2001, a Professor Emeritus at the University.
  • Jomo Kwame Sundaram, a former Professor at the Faculty of Economics and Administration (left UM in 2004). Prof. Jomo is the Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development in the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
  • Ho Peng Yoke, a former Professor of Chinese at the Department of Chinese Studies. Prof. Ho is the Director Emeritus of Needham Research Institute, Cambridge.
  • C S Lim (aka Lim Chee Seng or Chee Seng Lim), a former Professor in the Department of English at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. He is a specialist in Shakespeare studies and a member of the Executive Committee of the International Shakespeare Association.[37086]. From 1997 to 2000 he was the International Chair of ACLALS . [37087]
  • Terence Edmund Gomez, an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Economics and administration. He is one of the six research coordinators at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development UNRISD.
  • The late Tan Sri Datuk Professor Ir. Chin Fung Kee, a well known authority in geotechnical engineering. Born in Nibong Tebal, he was the man who designed the Penang Bridgemarker. He was the former acting Vice Chancellor of the University of Malaya.

See also


  1. University of Hong Kong: A Liftime of Memories - Dr Rayson Huang Book Launch (retrieved June 11, 2008)
  2. Southeast Asian Geotechnical Society: A Brief History of the SEAGS
  4. Attorney General's Chambers: [ Degrees and Diplomas Act 1962]
  5. National University of Singapore: Roll of Honour
  6. Malaysian Monarchy: Raja Permaisuri Agong V - Sultanah Bahiyah
  7. ibid: Yang di-Pertuan Agong IX - Sultan Azlan Shah
  8. Universiti Malaya: UM Board of Directors
  9. Amanahraya-JMF Asset Management: Profile of Tan Sri Datuk (Dr) Arshad Ayub
  10. - accessed 18 January 2008

External links

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