University Science Malaysia

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Universiti Sains Malaysia (English: University of Science, Malaysia, acronym: USM; Chinese: 马来西亚理科大学, acronym: 理大) is a public university with its main campus situated in Penang, Malaysia. There are two other branch campuses, one in mainland Penang, and the other in Kelantan, on the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia. With around 29,789 students in 2006 [1], USM is one of the biggest universities in terms of enrolled students in Malaysia. The number of lecturers is about 1606, which leads to a student-lecturer ratio of around 1:23.

USM was established in 1969 as the second university in Malaysia. It was first known as Universiti Pulau Pinang. Initially, the University operated on borrowed premises at the Malayan Teachers' Training College at Gelugor. In 1971, it moved to its present 239.4-hectare site (formerly a military barracks) at Minden, approximately 9.7 kilometres from the city of Georgetown. The site, which consists mainly of undulating land, is indeed an ideal location to house a university campus. There are now two other USM campuses as well, one at Kubang Kerian in Kelantan known as the Health Campus and the other at Seri Ampangan in Penang, known as the Engineering Campus. The former houses the School of Medical Sciences, the School of Health Sciences and the School of Dental Sciences, while the latter houses the six engineering schools.

From the outset, Universiti Sains Malaysia was given the mandate to provide, promote and develop learning in the fields of Pure Sciences, Applied Sciences, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Building Science and Technology, Social Sciences, Humanities and Education as well as to conduct research and foster the dissemination of such knowledge. To date, the University has not departed from these terms of reference and has made significant progress in meeting its academic, social, and national obligations.

The University has always been guided in its activities by the need to develop a personality and identity of its own. Since its establishment, it has adopted an innovative approach to higher education and departed significantly from the traditional faculty system of an academic organisation. In its place, the University introduced the school system that allows for a multidisciplinary approach. The policy was to combine subjects and to organise programs in such a manner that a degree of specialisation in a chosen subject was possible.

To date, 24 Academic Schools, 14 Centres and 7 Units have been established. Of the Schools, 12 are applied science and technology-based Schools, namely, the School of Civil Engineering, the School of Aerospace Engineering, the School of Chemical Engineering, the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, the School of Materials and Mineral Resources Engineering, the School of Mechanical Engineering, the School of Housing, Building and Planning, the School of Industrial Technology, the School of Medical Sciences, the School of Dental Sciences, the School of Health Sciences and the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences. The three liberal arts schools are the School of Educational Studies, the School of Humanities and the School of Social Sciences. The pure science schools comprise the School of Biological Sciences, the School of Chemical Sciences, the School of Mathematical Sciences, the School of Computer Sciences, and the School of Physics, all of which offer courses that are similar to those traditionally available in other universities.

In December 1989, the School of Management was set up, having evolved from the Management program within the School of Social Sciences. As part of its continuing expansion, the University established the School of Computer Sciences and the School of Communication as of March 1995.

The centres and ancillary services include the Centre for Languages and translation, the National Poison Centre, the Doping Control Centre, the Centre for Archaeological Research Malaysia, the Centre for Educational Technology and Multimedia, the Computer Centre, the Centre for Knowledge, Communication and Technology and the Islamic Centre. There are also various research centres, namely the Centre for Policy Research, the Centre for Drug Research and the Centre for Marine and Coastal Studies. The Distance Education Program offered through the School of Distance Education is another innovative program adopted by the University in 1971. It has gained an encouraging response from working adults and is set to be developed further in this decade to cater for new directions and needs.

In the field of research, the emphasis is on function-oriented or interdisciplinary research. The main focus is on areas that integrate academic interest and practical relevance, thus directing scientific thrusts towards breakthroughs in problem areas crucial to the quality of life and national development. The main gate at the main campus of USM

USM is one of three universities in Malaysia that have been identified as research-intensive universities in Malaysia, with the other being University of Malaya and Universiti Putra Malaysia. This is in tandem with its mission and vision to be a world-class university embarking on world class research programmes via strategic planning and implementation of its R&D mechanism. The university has qualified academic staff and excellent human resource support in order to realise its mission.