Govt calls off merger of 2 Terengganu universities

The government says there is an ‘obvious difference’ in the areas of focus of Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin and Universiti Malaysia Terengganu.

PETALING JAYA: The Cabinet has decided against going ahead with the merger of two Terengganu universities, Higher Education Minister Noraini Ahmad said today.

Noraini said the plan to merge Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) and Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA) had been scrapped after taking into consideration several factors and current challenges.

In a statement, she said these included an “obvious difference” in their primary areas of focus, the streamlining of academic faculties and research institutes, and the readiness of the people of both universities in forming a new identity.

Last year, it was reported that the government had agreed in principle to the merger of both universities, which was expected to improve the functions of the two institutions.

The move drew criticism from various parties when it was first proposed, with former higher education minister Khaled Nordin saying it was unprofessional and unnecessary.

“The ministry has considered seriously the views of each member of the university in implementing the merger and has scrutinised the implications if it was continued, especially on the development of the students of both universities,” Noraini said.

She said a merger would also erase the success of both universities in forming their identities and developing their respective areas of focus to international levels.

“The merger is also expected to involve a high cost. As such, it will not be continued by the government,” she said.

UniSZA was established in 2005 and was reputed to be the first university in the country to be modelled after the University of London, United Kingdom. It has four campuses, including one in Kuala Lumpur.

UMT began as Universiti Pertanian Malaysia’s Centre for Fisheries and Marine Science before being upgraded as University College of Science and Technology Malaysia (Kustem) in 2001. It was rebranded as UMT in 2007.

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