Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, the national university of Malaysia was born from the aspirations of the nationalists to uphold the Malay language as a language of knowledge. The quest for a national university was suggested in 1923 by the writer Abdul Kadir Adabi as a move against British colonisation. This nationalist tide galvanised Malay intellectuals of the time but met British suppression. The nationalists never wavered and in 1969 the movement again blossomed. A Sponsoring Committee chaired by Syed Nasir Ismail, a Malay intellectual, was set up to prepare a report recommending the establishment of UKM. Other prominent members of this committee include Dr. Mahathir Mohamed (Tun), Malaysia's fourth Prime Minister who was then the Education Minister, and Dr. Mohd Rashdan Haji Baba, who later became UKM's first Vice-Chancellor.
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia opened its doors on 18 May 1970 to 192 undergraduate students in Jalan Pantai Baru, Kuala Lumpur, a temporary campus housing three main faculties, the Faculties of Science, Arts and Islamic Studies. In October 1977, UKM moved to its present premises which form the main campus in Bangi. The campus has a size of 1,096 hectares (2,710 acres), situated in the metropolis encompassing the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Kuala Lumpur, the main commercial centre, and Putrajaya, the administrative capital. The UKM Bangi Campus is 45 km (28 mi) from KLIA, 30 km (19 mi) from Kuala Lumpur and 20 km (12 mi) from Putrajaya.
UKM has two health campuses, the Kuala Lumpur campus in Jalan Raja Muda Abdul Aziz, and the UKM Medical Centre in Cheras. The Kuala Lumpur campus consists of the Faculties of Health Sciences, Pharmacy, Dentistry and the Pre-Clinical Departments of the Medical Faculty. With a size of 20 hectares (49 acres), the Kuala Lumpur campus was established in 1974.
The campus in Cheras consists of the Medical Faculty, the UKM Teaching Hospital and the UKM Medical Molecular Biology Institute (UMBI). The Cheras campus was opened in 1997. Besides these campuses, UKM operates seven research stations (RS); The Tasik Chini RS, The Marine Ecosystem RS, The Langkawi Geopark RS, The Marine RS, The Fraser's Hill RS, The Plant Biotechnology RS and in the main campus itself, the UKM Campus Living Laboratory, which comprises the UKM Permanent Forest Reserve, or its Malay name, Hutan Simpan Kekal UKM as well as the Fernarium and the Herbarium.
Based on a foundation of 30 years of research, UKM was awarded the status of a Malaysian Research University in October 2006 by the Ministry of Higher Education, a move designed to propel the four public universities into leading research universities in line with the Higher Education Strategic Plan 2007–2020.
The year 2006 also saw UKM winning the Prime Minister's Quality Award. This award vindicates UKM's efforts at quality education and management, as outlined by the objectives of the UKM Strategic Plan 2000–2020 (PS2020). The Strategic Plan has been augmented by the newly unveiled UKM Knowledge Ecosystem Transformation Plan, a transformation set to catapult UKM into the league of leading research universities by 2018.
The list of vice-chancellors of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
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