Higher education and research: the State of Penang, Malaysia


Aims and objectives of higher education (HE) in Malaysia

HE focuses on two main aspects of Malaysia's development policy: the promotion of widespread economic growth and the promotion of high moral and social values. The National Higher Education Strategic Plan 2007-2010 aims at transforming HE in Malaysia by:


  • Widening access and enhancing equity
  • Improving the quality of teaching and learning
  • Enhancing research and innovation
  • Strengthening HEIs
  • Intensifying internationalisation
  • Enculturation of lifelong learning
  • Reinforcing the Higher Education Ministry’s delivery system


Higher education institutions (HEIs)

HEIs in Penang include the public Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), a branch campus of Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), two politechnics and no less than 40 private colleges.

The public Universiti Sains Malaysia was recently selected to be the first APEX (Accelerated Programme for Excellence) university in the Malaysian higher education system. Its predecessor, the University of Penang, was established in 1969 to provide education in science and technology.

Today, USM has 2 000 faculty members and about 28 000 students (2000/06) not only in science, applied science, engineering and medicine but also in arts and applied arts. The University consists of 24 schools and 34 research and excellence centres.


Research institutes

A majority of research institutes in Penang was established by Universiti Sains Malaysia. It also hosts research institutes which are within the domain of the federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Malaysian Institute of Pharmaceuticals and Nutraceuticals). Universiti Sains Malaysia and federal ministries jointly manage and fund the following research institutes:

In addition, the Malaysian Agricultural Research Institute has a station on the mainland. Many multinationals firms operating from the Free Industrial Zones have established research units to support their research and development efforts.


Penang start page | Penang in brief | Further reading and useful links

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