KUALA LUMPUR, April 12 – Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) campuses will soon be declared as autonomous campuses, with greater authority and power given to each campus’ respective rectors, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced today. Najib said the decision had been made to improve the institution’s ability to manage itself, given that the number of students had grown to 177,051 as of October last year. The number of students, he said, was set to grow even further to 224,000 by 2020.
“With such rapid growth, we are left with two options: either break up UiTM into two or three institutions, or keep its current structure with greater power given to the rectors who manage each campus. “To me, the latter concept is the most suitable. UiTM is a respected institution, and we should not compromise on or change its identity. “This is how we pave the way forward for UiTM, by keeping its current structure, while introducing an autonomous and empowered system of administration” he said during the university’s charity gala tonight.
Najib also launched the UiTM RM1billion Education Fund, aimed at raising RM1billion in endowment from the university’s 500,000 alumni members. UiTM, he said, could lead the country in sparking an “endowment culture”, joining respected institutions such as Harvard University and Stanford University, which raised billions of dollars in endowment funds annually. “In 2008, the National University of Singapore raised USD1.5 billion in endowment, so clearly this is a tradition that is widely spread.
“It hasn’t taken hold here in Malaysia yet but UiTM is at the forefront of this culture with the launch of this education fund.” To reach the RM1 billion target, he said, each alumni member had to donate RM2,000 to the fund. “I’ve done the calculations… if each member sets aside RM50 a month, we can meet the target set within 40 months,” he said, adding that endowment was part of the fund-raising measures encouraged under the newly launched Malaysia Education Blueprint (Higher Education).
Earlier, the fund’s board of trustees chairman Tan Sri Lodin Wok Kamarudin said the funds would be collected as waqaf and used to provide educational aid to students from underprivileged families whose members had not had a chance to pursue higher education. This included, he said, students from the interior and rural areas, Orang Asli and urban poor households. He also announced alumni members and corporate entities who had pledged to donate both in cash and in kind to the fund, including AirAsia X, which pledged RM2.3 million and MARA which pledged RM2.5 million.