When Malaysia started focusing on the development of telecommunication, Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM) took a leap of faith by establishing the first private-owned higher learning institute. Located in Taiping, Perak, the Institute of Telecommunication and Information Technology (ITTM) opened its dooer in 1994 by offering 42 pioneer students to undergo a two-year course in Telecommunication Engineering Diploma Programme.
In 1996, ITTM was renamed Universiti Telekom (UNITELE) and was upgraded by the Ministry of Education as the first private university in Malaysia. From Perak, the campus then moved to Melaka in 1997. The campus was set up in Ayer Keroh, redeveloping and repurposing the TM Southern Region office building.
University Telekom became known as Multimedia University (MMU) when TM, as the parent corporation, was given the enormous task of establishing a new campus in Cyberjaya that would supply the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) with superior quality knowledge workers.
In July 1999, the Cyberjaya campus was officially launched by former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed. The relationship between the Cyberjaya campus and the MSC is intended to be similar to that between Stanford University and Silicon Valley.
The growing need for tertiary education institutions in the 90s, complemented by the fast-growing development of the digital age sparked the idea of having a foundation that focuses on IT and telecommunication. Pioneering the new frontier of Knowledge Economy (K-economy), MMU is responsible for being a world-class learning institution and establishing itself as a major player in research and development.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) appreciated the fact that TM was moving along with the development of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) era in Malaysia. Education formed the fundamental basis that Malaysia needs in its drive to be a knowledge and technology driven economy. As the government saw privatisation as the appropriate drive towards efficiency, MOE invited TM to set up a private university in Malaysia.
Being the first private-owned institution approved by the Government, MMU has the upper hand in selecting the creme de la creme students to partake in the first few years of the experimental diploma programme. From there on, MMU has strict entrance requirements to ensure the best quality of graduates.
The university positioned itself to create and offer market-driven programmes and innovative delivery systems for its graduates to be equipped with specialised knowledge and skills to optimise technology and information management.
25 years and 70,000 graduates later, MMU has become more than a mere institution. It has become a cornerstone of the Malaysian higher education sector, and it is growing in significance, accumulating awards, accolades and recognition. These include being placed in the Quaquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings and the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings, as well as securing the Ministry of Higher Education’s Premier Digital Tech Institution status and SETARA Ratings, to name a few.
Another major part of MMU’s strengths is the influence of its graduates. Not only is its graduates highly valuable to the areas of ICT, Engineering, Law, Strategic Communications, Life Science, Creative Multimedia and Management, many have become job creators, due to MMU actively instilling with them an entrepreneurial mindset.
Some of MMU’s graduates have become household names, such as Nizam Razak (Creator of the BoboiBoy animated series and film), Ghaz Abu Bakar (Director of live action box-office hit, Polis Evo), and Muhammad Usamah Zaid (Creator of the Ejen Ali animated series and film).
Of course, nothing lasts forever if it is not supported and strengthened, and this is true for MMU’s continued influence on the higher education sector. To ensure MMU’s uninterrupted relevance, the university, under the leadership of Professor Dato’ Dr. Mazliham Mohd Su’ud has adopted a strategic approach, dubbed MMU PLUS U.
The key intention of this approach is to provide a holistic experience to MMU students and graduates, enabling and encouraging them to become leaders of the Digital Economy at the national and regional levels, as well as creators of future technology that are related to MMU’s areas of expertise.
Through this initiative, MMU intends to reshape its output. It aims to have up to 95 percent of its graduates seeking employment, furthering their studies or pursuing other endeavours, with the remaining 5 percent becoming active entrepreneurs and job creators.
While the MMU PLUS U initiative is relatively new, it has already begun to bear fruit, in terms of increased student intakes, improved revenue streams, and heightened productivity and customer experience.
Although there is still a long way to go the journey has no end – MMU is confident that through continuous improvement, and encouraging the growth of our students, as well as our staff, we would be able to rise to new heights. Certainly, the road ahead would not be smooth, nor would it be straight, but using the lesson learned from the past 25 years, we at MMU are very excited to do our best and will do our utmost to make this university even greater for the next 25, and even 100 years.