He said Malaysia, which ranked 11th in Unesco’s list of preferred educational destinations, was committed to improving the ranking.
He added that Malaysia was also committed to developing home-grown workforce of individuals capable of generating big new ideas and game-changing strategies that would create wealth and jobs for the people.
“In order to achieve both these goals, Malaysia must improve the range and quality of its tertiary education. Xiamen University’s new campus helps us to do this,” he said at the ground-breaking ceremony for XMUMC in Salak Tinggi, here, Thursday.
Also present were Second Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, the prime minister’s special envoy to China, Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting, who is also the Malaysia-China Business Council chairman, president of Xiamen University Prof Zhu Chongshi and China’s ambassador to Malaysia Huang Huikang.
Estimated to cost RM1.3 billion, XMUMC which is built on a 60-hectare site with five academic buildings, six students’ residences, activity centres, sports facilities and a cafeteria, is expected to be ready in September next year.
XMUMC is to see its first enrolment of 500 students after that and the number to grow to 5,000 in 2020, and eventually reach its maximum capacity of 10,000 students from China, Malaysia and other Asean countries.
Najib said it was fitting that Xiamen University had chosen Malaysia as the venue for its first international campus.
He said the setting up of Xiamen here, which was prestigious as it was an internationally recognised university, would attract high-quality students from abroad as well as provide more choices for Malaysian students.
“Not everyone can study abroad, but now Malaysian students will be able to undertake global education at a reasonable cost, right here in Malaysia,” he said.
Najib said the ground-breaking ceremony today was symbolic of the friendship between Malaysia and China.
Meanwhile, Liow who is also MCA president, welcomed the establishment of XMUMC here as it was another milestone for Malaysia and China in strengthening bilateral ties and also people-to-people relations.
“The setting up of the Xiamen University branch campus here will help to turn Malaysia into a hub for excellent education in the region.
“MCA is committed to attracting more Chinese students to study in Malaysia,” he said.
Xiamen University, listed as among the top 20 academic institutions in China, was founded by Malaysian rubber magnate Tan Kah Kee in 1921.
Last year, Xiamen University received an official invitation from the Malaysian government to set up a campus in Malaysia and in February the same year, an agreement of cooperation on the setting up of XMUMC was sealed between XMU and Sunsuria Development Sdn Bhd.
XMUMC will offer undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral courses adhering to the same educational philosophy and degree-awarding system adopted by Xiamen University. Graduates of XMUMC will be granted academic degrees from Xiamen University.
XMUMC will be constructed in two phases. In the first phase, five schools will be set up, namely the School of Information Science and Technology, School of Ocean and Environment, School of Economics and Management, School of Chinese Language and Culture, and School of Medicine.
In the second phase, more schools and courses will be set up to meet the social needs and market demands.