Established as the second university in the country in 1969, University Sains Malaysia (USM) was first known as the University of Penang, before the University’s Act came into effect on 4th October 1971.
The university has been developing and expanding since its inception, which started with 57 science students. Now USM offers at undergraduate and postgraduate approximately 20,000 students. USM has also become a well-known university locally and internationally.
USM was founded by the Penang State Legislative Council in 1962, which suggested that a university college be established in the state. Sungai Ara was identified and later the foundation stone was placed by the then Prime Minister, Y.T.M Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj on the 7th of August 1967.
In 1969, the University was established in response to the need for a larger campus with a more conducive environment, appropriate to the needs of the future of the country.
In April 1969, Professor Hamzah Sendut was elected the Vice-Chancellor. In 1971, the campus, which was originally planned to be situated in Sungai Ara, moved to its present site, a beautiful location with an area measuring 500 acres. The green and hilly scenery facing the sea is truly captivating.
Since its beginning, USM has implemented a school system, as opposed to the traditional faculty system. What is unique about this system is that each school could fulfill the needs of a more focused degree in the chosen area of study, students could have the opportunity to explore other areas of studyl. The interdisciplinary approach ensures that USM, the first in the country to adopt this system, would produce trained, multi-skilled graduates.
USM main campus is located in Penang, a land area of 591.72 acres (240.13 hectares). There are two USM branch campuses, one at Kubang Kerian in Kelantan known as Health Campus and the other at Nibong Tebal known as Engineering Campus. The former houses the School of Medical Sciences, School of Health Sciences and School of Dental Sciences, while the latter houses the six Engineering Schools. To date, the total enrolment is more than 30,000 students. USM has adopted an innovative approach to higher education and of significance is its departure from the traditional faculty system of academic organisation. USM implements the broad-based School system where related subjects are grouped into schools of study and within each school, the policy combines subjects and organised courses specialization in a chosen subject.
From the outset, USM was given the mandate to provide, promote, and develop higher education in the fields of Natural Sciences, Applied Sciences, Medical and Health Sciences, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Building Sciences & Technology, Social Sciences, Humanities, and Education, as well as to provide for research and advancement of knowledge and the dissemination of such knowledge in these fields of study.
As one of the four Higher Institutions of Learning recognized by the Ministry of Higher Education as a Research Intensive University, USM offers educational and research opportunities to both students and staff. One of the key elements in the development of academic excellence at USM is the establishment of its research centers. This is due to the fact that the University has always been aware of the need for both research and teaching to remain as receptive as possible to the demands of society, and that the centers would provide better opportunities for integration and networking.
USM also provides consultancy, testing, and advisory services to industry. These services come under the ambit of USAINS Holdings Sdn Bhd, the University’s commercial arm.
USM offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes that are conducted by the following Schools:
Main Campus Engineering Campus
School of Arts
School of Biological Sciences
School of Chemical Sciences
School of Communication
School of Computer Sciences
School of Distance Education
School of Educational Studies
School of Housing, Building and Planning
School of Humanities
School of Industrial Technology
School of Management
School of Mathematical Sciences
School of Pharmaceutical Sciences
School of Physics
School of Social Sciences
School of Aerospace Engineering
School of Chemical Engineering
School of Civil Engineering
School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering
School of Mechanical Engineering
School of Materials & Mineral Resources Engineering
School of Dental Sciences
School of Health Sciences
School of Medical Sciences
The list of Research Centres, Services Centres and Units at USM are listed as follows:
Advanced Management Centre
Advanced Medical and Dental Institute
Biomedical and Health Sciences Research Platform
Centre for Archaeological Research Malaysia
Centre for Drug Research
Centre for Education, Training and Research in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency
Centre for International Studies
Centre for Islamic Development Management Studies
Centre for Marine and Coastal Studies
Centre for Policy Research & International Studies
Collaborative Microelectronic Design Excellence Centre
Doping Control Centre
Engineering and Technology Research Platform
Fundamental Sciences Platform
Human Genome Centre
Institute for Research in Molecular Medicine
Malaysia Institute of Pharmaceuticals and Nutraceuticals
National Advances IPv6 Centre
National Higher Education Research Institute
National Poison Centre
Platform for Clinical Sciences Research
Platform for Information and Communication Technology Research
Platform for Life Sciences Research
Platform for Social Transformation Drainage Research Centre
River Engineering and Urban Drainage Research Centre
Women’s Development Research Centre
Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Penang is the main and the original campus. It is located on a hill overlooking Penang Bridge and was once a military barracks and so there are some really solid architecture builings. It is also a beautiful campus with many trees, plants attracting birds and butterflies.
As there is a school of botany, all the major tree species are tagged with a yellow marker with their local common name as well as their scientific name. It is fun to go around visiting the various part of the campus and stopping at looking all the major tree species that have were originally there or planted.
As an example, the picture here shows the "Tembusu" tree.