The Establishment of UTAR began with the story of Kolej Tunku Abdul Rahman (KTAR). In 1964 the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) mooted the idea of setting up a college which was subsequently named after the first Prime Minister of Malaysia.
On 15 September 1972, Dato' Hussein Onn, the then Minister of Education handed over the Instrument of Government to the College. A 191-acre piece of land in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur was allocated for the construction of the KTAR Campus.
The establishment of KTAR subsequently provided the impetus and inspiration to establish a new private university. The proposal of establishing a new private university was then met with approval from the Government.
On 5 July 2001, in accordance with the Private Higher Educational Institutions Act 1996, the then Minister of Education Tan Sri Musa Mohamad invited the MCA to establish Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR).
The establishment was timely with the recognition of the private education industry by the Government of Malaysia as a vital engine in stimulating and sustaining the growth of intellectual capital to meet the complex needs of an increasingly knowledge-based and innovation-driven economy.
A steering committee, chaired by Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik was formed to draw up a blueprint. A working committee led by Tan Sri Dr Ng Lay Swee, who was then the Principal of KTAR, prepared the working papers for the formation of the University. After months of meetings, deliberations and research, a framework emerged.
In March 2002, the University announced that it would be offering eight degree courses for its first intake of students for the academic year 2002/03 beginning May at its temporary campus in Petaling Jaya.
The University began by initially offering eight honours degree programmes through the following three faculties:
The eight programmes approved by the Ministry of Education at that time were:
The International Advisory Council
Guided by a vision to be a premier University for the advancement and dissemination of knowledge and expertise, UTAR would have to achieve global standards. To serve as a platform for international affiliations, the International Advisory Council (IAC) consisting of eminent scholars and scientists was established. With this array of distinguished scholars and scientists, UTAR has since then been working towards building a strong international base for its research initiatives and academic programmes. The historic inaugural meeting of the IAC took place on 15 April 2002, chaired by Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik, then Chairman of UTAR Council. It was indeed a meeting of keen minds with a myriad of vibrant ideas which provided an excellent start for the new University.
On 10 June 2002, UTAR welcomed its first intake of 411 students to its former Petaling Jaya Campus.
On 13 August 2002, Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad, then Prime Minister of Malaysia, officially launched UTAR. The University was then officially established and until today, it is still under the UTAR Education Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation.
On 16 November 2009, UTAR established its Faculty of Medicine and Health Science (FMHS) to educate and train medical students to provide quality healthcare services. The programmes offered in the Faculty include degree and postgraduate studies in Chinese Medicine, MBBS, Nursing, and Physiotherapy. The pioneer batch of FMHS medical students graduated in August 2015. This was a milestone achievement for the University.
As UTAR strategizes to progress and prepare to fulfill the nation’s requirements in the years ahead, the University recently embarked on the exciting journey of setting-up a hospital in Kampar offering both contemporary western medicine and traditional and complementary medicine (TCM).
UTAR now offers over 131 programmes in fields including Accounting, Business and Economics, Actuarial Science, Mathematics and Process Management, Agriculture and Food Science, Arts, Social Sciences and Education, Creative Industries and Design, Engineering and Built Environment, Information and Communication Technology, Life and Physical Sciences, and Medicine and Health Sciences to more than 21,000 students in its nine faculties, three institutes and three centres located in the main campus in Kampar and in Sungai Long.