The historic CNY1.3bn (US$400m) project was launched last June after Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak issued an invitation in 2011 for Chinese universities to set up campuses in his country.
“Now Malaysian students will be able to undertake a global education at a reasonable cost, right here in Malaysia”
Xiamen was chosen as the first Chinese university to put down roots in Malaysia thanks to its longstanding ties with the country.
Initially the site in Salak Tinggi, 45km from Kuala Lumpur, will be home to five schools: Chinese language and culture, medicine, information communication technology, economics and oceanography.
Later schools of chemical engineering and energy, biological engineering, electronic engineering, material sciences, and mass media and animation will be added.
Programmes will be taught in English, with the exception of Chinese studies and traditional Chinese medicine.
The initial intake of 500 students will grow to 5,000 by 2020, but will eventually be double that studying both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.
Wang Huiyao, Director of Beijing-based public policy think tank the Center for China and Globalization said that the campus marks “a step toward adapting to the trend of globalisation”.
“Students from around the globe can freely choose the education they want to have, and Chinese universities should see this trend,” he added.
At the groundbreaking ceremony in July, Prime Minister Razak said the campus will “not only attract high-quality students from abroad, but will provide more choice for Malaysian students”.
“Now Malaysian students will be able to undertake a global education at a reasonable cost, right here in Malaysia,” he remarked.
In recent years China has opened up to more overseas investment in an effort to internationalise its higher education, and the number of international branch campuses in China looks set to rise following 70% growth in 2013.
The Prime Minister’s special envoy to China, Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting, reaffirmed the importance of diplomatic ties, now in their 40th year, at the China International Fair for Investment and Trade in Xiamen in September, where Malaysia was the guest country of honour.
“China is Malaysia’s number one trading partner while Malaysia remains China’s largest trading partner in ASEAN for the past six years,” he commented.