History of IMU



Tan Sri Dr Kamal Salih

Dr Mei Ling Young

The Late Dr Saidi Hashim

22 years ago, it was clear that Malaysia was facing a serious shortage of doctors. Dr Kamal Salih, a visionary, and Dr Mei Ling Young, a social scientist with a strong interest in development, hit on a brilliant, simple idea – if young Malaysian students could not go out into the world to get the medical education they wanted and deserved, they would bring it to them.

And so the idea for the International Medical College (IMC) was born.

Kamal and Mei Ling roped in Dr Saidi Hashim, who had helped start the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM)’s Medical School and Professor Ong Kok Hai, also a USM colleague, to help put the plan for the school together. They in turn invited two leading medical educationists – Professor Ron Harden and Professor Ian Hart to join the team.

The six of them then put together a unique model that would see medical students spend the first 5 semesters at the International Medical College (IMC) in Kuala Lumpur, before moving to any one of the Partner Medical Schools (PMS) around the world. It was a radical idea – a world’s first – that changed the model for medical education. And in the process, helped build a better Malaysia.

The IMC curriculum was unique not just in its teaching and learning methods, but also in the fact that it was designed to be universally accepted as a Phase 1 by some of the world’s best medical schools. And its unique Self-directed Learning approach taught students to break away from teacher-dependent learning and to be responsible for their own learning.

In November 1992 – after only 2 years of intense planning and with five leading PMS on board – the IMC opened its doors to students in Jalan Selangor, Petaling Jaya.

The college was officially launched on 13 April 1992 by the then Education Minister, YB Datuk Amar Dr Sulaiman Haji Daud, demonstrating the full support of the Malaysian Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health.

Since 1993, there have been 32 cohorts of PMS students, totalling 2,519 in number. Today, IMU has 29 renowned PMS, which between them offer around 240 places a year to IMU in this exciting, innovative and transformational education model.




IMC Becomes the International Medical University

From 1992 to 1998, IMC focussed on Phase 1 of its medical programme – the building of its Medical Sciences programme – so that Malaysian students could transfer seamlessly to the PMS. In 1995, IMC started two intakes, and by 1998, transferring approximately 68 students a year.

Everything changed dramatically, when in 1998, the Asian financial crisis struck. Fluctuating currencies and the massive depreciation of the Malaysian ringgit hit both parents and the Malaysian government, as they had been sending students abroad to study medicine. The scale of uncertainties was unprecedented.

To overcome the problem of potentially stranded students from our Phase 1 programme, IMC quickly put into place a Phase 2 programme to be done locally. It was the IMU MBBS.

The then Minister of Education, YB Dato Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak, now Prime Minister of Malaysia, asked Kamal and Mei Ling to fast-track the setting up of IMC’s Clinical School to help solve the problems of parents as well as the government-sponsored students. IMC was invited to become a university thereby being able to award its own degrees. IMU was born.

This had vast implications for IMC – upon completion of their Phase 1, students would have a choice to transfer to a PMS or to the Clinical School to complete their education locally.

Again, with the help of Professor Ron Harden and Professor Ian Hart, both who already had key roles in establishing the IMC, and senior medical deans Professor Michael Orme of the UK, Dr John Ruedy of North America and Professor Ian Simpson of New Zealand, collectively representing UK, North America and Australasia, the curriculum for Phase 2 and the physical design of the Clinical School were drawn up. A handful of clinicians, under the inspiring leadership of Professor John Joseph Bosco, (scheduled to be the Foundation Dean of the Clinical School), fleshed out the modern, innovative curriculum with eight outcomes, the Phase 2 curriculum. This curriculum incorporated the most forward- looking aspects of medical curricula.

The IMU Clinical School, comprising its curriculum, building and staff recruitment was completed in record time – just one year.

On 4 February, 1999, IMC was granted university status and became the International Medical University (IMU), thus providing students the additional option of reading the whole medical degree in Malaysia, graduating with the IMU MBBS. With this, IMU also became the country’s first private medical college to be upgraded to a university.

On 20 September, 1999, the IMU Clinical School welcomed its first batch of 46 medical students. The School was located on the grounds of the Seremban Hospital, now Hospital Tuanku Ja’afar. In 2001, just 3 years after launching the programme, the IMU MBBS programme earned accreditation from the National Accreditation Board.

IMU then went on to establish teaching relationships with several other hospitals, the result of which was that IMU MBBS students were exposed, over the course of their degree, to the full spectrum of primary, secondary and tertiary care. The implementation of the “Senior Clerkship” programme when the student in their final semester behaves like a houseman is one of the distinguishing features of the IMU MBBS programme, and one that has contributed significantly to the quality of the IMU medical graduate.


100% Medical and Healthcare Education Specialist

Well before the development of the IMU MBBS programme, the IMC was already exploring ways in which it could expand its healthcare education offering.

It introduced a twinned Pharmacy programme with University of Strathclyde in 1996, its own Bachelor of Pharmacy programme in 2004 and dentistry in 2008, which follow the IMU’s unique model – a shared Phase 1 programme, with the option to complete their degree in IMU, or continue to any of their Partner Schools around the world.

Believing that health is holistic, IMU introduced the Chiropractic programme in 2010, the first of its kind in Southeast Asia. The IMU Chiropractic programme features an evidence-based curriculum, meaning the material that is taught is derived from research findings as much as possible.

IMU then introduced the Chinese Medicine programme in February 2011, where students are required to learn the basic medical sciences alongside clinical practices of Chinese Medicine. This integration is important as it combines the best of both types of medicine; students adopt and apply a scientific and an evidence-based approach to Chinese Medicine.

Completing its offering of medical and healthcare programmes are other clinically-based health professions like Nursing, Nutrition and Dietetics, and Psychology as well as non-clinical health programmes such as Medical Biotechnology, Biomedical Science and Pharmaceutical Chemistry.

Since 2004, IMU has been offering postgraduate programmes, their MSc and PhD by research. And in September 2011, IMU welcomed the pioneer batch of students enrolled in the first postgraduate taught programme in IMU, the MSc (Public Health).

Despite the variety, the different programmes share the same philosophy – to produce thinking students who are lifelong learners. IMU seeks to widen access to healthcare education, with courses that are both progressive and innovative. Its aim: to grow into a centre of healthcare educational excellence in the Asia-Pacific region.


Moving Into Healthcare

In January 2010, IMU took a bold step in its plan to be a holistic healthcare provider, with the opening of the IMU Oral Health Centre. This marked a major breakthrough for the university – for the very first time, IMU was receiving and treating real patients.

This was quickly followed by the opening of the IMU Chiropractic Centre in May 2010, the IMU Medical Clinic in July 2010 and the IMU Chinese Medicine Centre in November 2010.

Together, these centres form IMU Healthcare, which is unique in that it brings the disciplines of allopathic (western) medicine under its Bukit Jalil campus beside those of traditional and complementary medicine, offering western medicine, dental services, nutrition and dietary and psychological advice, alongside chiropractic and Chinese medicine services.

In addition, IMU Healthcare also serves a clinical training facility for IMU students, and plays an important role in educating future healthcare professionals who understand the importance and benefits of offering holistic healthcare services. It also allows IMU to extend the learning experience, beyond that already offered by its partnerships with Ministry of Health hospitals and clinics, and helps attract quality faculty. It is both a teaching and service innovation that IMU is proud of.


Research Focused on Medicine and Medical Education

Moving into research was a natural progression in the evolution of the IMU in its continual quest for academic excellence. IMU thrust areas for research are: environmental health, cancer biology, stem cell research, active bio-molecules and cellular mechanisms, pharmaceutics and drug delivery systems, and natural compounds and nutraceuticals.

While medical and healthcare-related research continues to be an area of focus, IMU is also making progress in a new area of research – that of medical education.

Since 2000, when research activities first started, IMU has initiated 947 research projects, consisting of a mix of undergraduate, graduate and faculty research. From 2008 – 2011, it published 568 papers, of which 281 (49.5%) were in ISI papers. These were in respected journals such as the Lancet, British Medical Journal, Cochrane Data Base Systematic Reviews, Human Pathology, to name a few.

IMU’s research efforts are expected to be further enhanced when its proposed Institute of Research, Innovation and Development (IRDI) comes on-stream, which will elevate the University as a significant player in biomedical and clinical research.


An Engaged University

One of IMU’s core values is that to be good healthcare professionals, students must be moulded to be good human beings. And this includes being aware of, and sensitive to, the needs of the communities in which they live and work, hence IMU’s tradition of active community engagement.

Through a comprehensive community engagement programme, students, faculty and staff work with local communities, particularly those in need, to build therapeutic relationships, share healthcare knowledge through treatment and counsel and run educational programmes. Amongst these are IMU’s long-running “Kampung Angkat” (village adoption) programme, its “Health and Wellness Programme”, its IMU Cares programmes and its regular Health Awareness Days.


Looking Forward

Today IMU is an integrated medical and healthcare institution, offering education, healthcare and research in partnership with some of the world’s most respected individuals and universities in the field of medicine and healthcare. It is Malaysia’s only university focused a hundred percent on medical and healthcare education, and continues to play a significant role in nation-building.

It has remained focussed on the central philosophy that guided its founders – access to quality medical education, innovation and imagination as its cornerstone, and continuous reflection leading to insight to guide IMU into the future.

Its success stems from a lot of hard work, and the belief that everything that IMU does must draw from its core ethos of Innovation, Imagination and Insight. Innovation, to be creative and productive and to be focused on continuous innovation, Imagination to be realistic about what can be achieved and measured, and Insight to be focussed on productivity and responsiveness, to be acceptable to those IMU serves.

In January 2011, IMU launched its 5-year Strategic Plan – ASPIRE, which will see the University work towards becoming a truly Learning Organisation, as envisaged by Peter Senge.

Forging ahead, IMU will have to develop an academic health centre where all the three components of education, research and healthcare will add value to each other. This will also differentiate IMU.

As it celebrates its 20th anniversary, IMU continues to be focussed on its most important role – to help mould individuals to be better people, and to be better medical and healthcare professionals.


History and Key Milestones

  • Year 2014

    20 September
    We raised RM 171,764 at the annual Charity Carnival & Run. This year all the proceeds were donated to four beneficiaries: Pertubuhan Hospice Negeri Sembilan, Pusat Penjagaan Kanak-Kanak Cacat Taman Megah, Dignity for Children Foundation, and the IMU Cares Disaster Fund.

    6 September
    The second Convocation of the year, we celebrated the graduation of the first cohort to undertake the Masters programme in Analytical and Pharmaceutical Chemistry.

    23 May
    The Research Laboratory received accreditation, under the International Standard ISO/IEC 17025:2005, for 3 years.

    14 June
    The new Chancellor and Pro-Chancellor were officially installed, in at Convocation. The Convocation also saw the graduation of our first cohort from the Chiropractic Programme.

    26 February
    We received the certificate of accreditation for our Pharmaceutical Chemistry Programme from the Royal Society of Chemistry at a ceremony at the Bukit Jalil campus.

    6 January
    We welcomed more than 50 students – the pioneer cohort - into the Foundation in Science Programme This is the first pre-university programme to be offered at IMU.

    1 January
    The appointments of YBhg Dato’ Dr Amir Abbas as the University’s fourth Chancellor, and YBhg Dato’ Dr Gan Ee Kiang as its Pro-Chancellor.

  • Year 2013

    24 October
    IMU’s Chiropractic programme accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education, Australasia Inc.(CCEA).

    13 October
    Jom Kayuh II: An IMU Health Awareness Project in Batu Pahat

    30 September
    The first intake of students for the Nutrition degree programme

    21 September
    More than RM 150,000 was raised at the IMU Chariofare, a Charity Carnival and Charity Run with all the proceeds going to charity

    25 August
    IMU’s School of Medicine conferred the AMEE ASPIRE to Excellence Award in the area of “Student Engagement”

    8 June
    IMU Graduates First Cohort of MSc in Public Health and Bachelor of Dental Surgery at its Graduation Ceremony

    26 April
    IMU Cares Programme at the University, in which the university has adopted the village of Kampung Tekir won First Place in the MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship

    22-23 February 2013
    University Day and Health Awareness Day

  • Year 2012

    18 September
    The Institute of Research, Development and Innovation (IRDI) was officially launched at IMU on 18 September 2012 in a ceremony officiated by the University’s Chancellor, YBhg Dato’ Seri Dr T Devaraj. This is an important milestone for the university as the establishment of IRDI reflects the university’s commitment to invest strategically in the areas of research excellence. The new institute, based at the university, will also ensure sustainability and advancement in research by realigning the research direction of the university.

    9-13 March
    15th Ottawa Conference held in Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, co-hosted by IMU and AMEE. The first ever in Asia attended by approximately 1,200 medical educationists from around the world.

    2 March
    The 20th Anniversary Celebrations was officially launched on University Day.

  • Year 2011

    5 December
    Signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Sodexo Malaysia Sdn Bhd, a global leading service provider of on-site service solutions, motivation solutions, personal and home solutions in the areas of student attachment, continuous professional development activities and research.

    5 September
    The pioneer batch of students was enrolled in the IMU Master of Science (Public Health) programme. This is the first ever postgraduate taught programme in Public Health offered by a private university in Malaysia.

    28 May
    First student to graduate with a Bachelor of Nursing Science (Hons)

    8 March
    Signing of Memorandum of Understanding with National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The partnership will include joint projects in promoting and developing materials in higher education programmes, and working in joint research towards publications in the area of occupational safety and health.

    21 February
    Pioneer batch of 13 students enrolled into the IMU Chinese Medicine programme

    27 January
    A 5-year strategic plan, IMU ASPIRE, was officially launched

    7 January
    Signing of Memorandum of Understanding with SIRIM Berhad to collaborate in providing IMU students with industry experience and work environment exposure through internship placements and/or study visits.
  • Year 2010

    4-5 December
    Official Launch of Chinese Medicine and Chiropractic Seminar and Workshop and IMU Healthcare Centres and Clinics by Malaysian Minister of Health, YB Dato’ Sri Liow Tiong Lai.

    9 November
    An agreement was signed with a new Industry Partner, National Kidney Foundation of Malaysia (NKF) on students placement, community activities, sharing of community and academic knowledge and use of facilities.

    13 October
    Signing of an agreement with KBU International College for the Foundation in Health Sciences programme .

    18 September
    A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed with Eu Yan Sang International Ltd (EYS) as an industry partner.

    2 August
    Signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Besta Corporation Sdn Bhd. as an industry partner for the Nutrition and Dietetics programme.

    24 June
    An agreement was signed with the Ministry of Health (MOH) for the use of MOH's facilities for the teaching and training of IMU's students for the Bachelor of Science (Hons) Nutrition and Dietetics and Bachelor of Science (Hons) Biomedical Science.

    14 June
    Signing of an agreement with Shofu, Inc as an industry partner for the Dental programme.

    7 June
    Signing of Memorandum of Understanding with Pantai Premier Pathology (PPP) Sdn Bhd for student attachments and provision of Continuous Education Programmes.

    12 April
    A Memorandum of Understanding was signed with Swiftlet Eco Park Berhad and Gleneagles Hospital to promote academic and research interactions on bird's nest extract and other areas of mutual interest.

    1 April
    Signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with GCH Retail (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd [Guardian Pharmacy]. Under the Memorandum of Understanding, IMU's pharmacy students will be able to gain industrial experience and work environment exposure through internship placements, attachments or study-visits as well as employment opportunities at Guardian.

    2 March
    Launching of Hospital Tuanku Ampuan Najihah, Kuala Pilah as a Teaching Hospital of IMU.

    22 February
    The pioneer batch of 30 students was enrolled in the IMU Chiropractic programme.
  • Year 2009

    10 October
    10th Anniversary MBBS (IMU) and the Clinical School Dinner at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

    5-10 October
    IMU MBBS 10th Anniversary Celebrations.

    24 July
    Signing Ceremony between IMU and the University of Newcastle for the articulation of psychology programme.

    7 July
    Students’ dialogue session with former Malaysian Prime Minister, YABhg Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

    6 April
    The pioneer batch of students was enrolled in the IMU Nursing Science programme.

    9 January
    Signing of an agreement with SRAS (or Satellite Reconnaissance Arresting Sickness) Berhad as an industrial linkage partner.
  • Year 2008

    2 September
    A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between IMU and RMIT University, Australia to develop courses of study in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Chiropractic programmes.

    21 July
    Two Memoranda of Understanding was signed with BP Healthcare Group for pathology services and industrial training.

    14 July
    The pioneer batch of students enrolled for the IMU Nutrition and Dietetics, Psychology, Medical Biotechnology, Biomedical Science and Pharmaceutical Chemistry programmes.

    24 May
    The pioneer batch of Bachelor of Pharmacy (Hons) students graduated at Sheraton Subang Hotel & Towers, Selangor Darul Ehsan. The first student to graduate with a PhD from IMU also received her degree at the same convocation.

    23 April
    A Memorandum of Agreement was signed between IMU and Tung Shin Hospital. This agreement was signed to enable IMU students to do their clinical practice in Tung Shin Hospital. This is for the Chinese Medicine degree course that will be offered in IMU in the future.

    15 April
    A Memorandum of Agreement was signed between IMU and Mawar Renal Medical Centre to provide quality healthcare services to patients.

    25 February
    The pioneer batch of 50 students was enrolled in the IMU dentistry programme.

    1 January
    YBhg Dato' Dr Lim Kee Jin was appointed as IMU's second Pro-Chancellor.
  • Year 2007

    20 April
    The 15th Anniversary Celebrations was officially launched at a dinner at Crown Plaza Mutiara Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.

    19 April
    The first International Medical Education Conference (IMEC-2007) was held at Crowne Plaza Mutiara Hotel, Kuala Lumpur. More than 300 participants represented by Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Japan, UK, Iran, Uzbekistan, Australia, Laos, Pakistan and New Zealand attended this event.

    14 March
    The Community & Social Responsibility (CSR) Programme was launched by the President of the IMU on University Day.
  • Year 2006

    19 August
    The pioneer batch of 2 postgraduate students graduated with Master of Science (IMU) at Sheraton Subang Hotel & Towers, Selangor Darul Ehsan.
  • Year 2005

    7 September
    The pioneer batch of 9 students were enrolled in the local 4-year Bachelor of Nursing programme (BNur).

    22 August
    A Memorandum of Agreement was signed between IMU and University of Strathclyde.

    20 August
    YBhg Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr Sulaiman Haji Daud was officially installed as the second Chancellor of the University.

    The IMU achieved MS ISO 9001:2000 for the provision of tertiary education in medicine, Pharmacy & health sciences.
  • Year 2004

    21 July
    The pioneer batch of 75 students were enrolled in the local 4-year Bachelor of Pharmacy programme (BPharm). An inaugural white coat & pledge-making ceremony was held on this day for these students.

    26 May
    A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between IMU and Multimedia University to establish a Centre for Advanced Medical Multimedia Research (CAMMR). The main aim of this centre is to promote research in the fields of systems programming and multimedia as well as developing computer-aided teaching applications and learning materials in support of medical education.

    15-16 March
    The Medical Education Colloquium organised by the IMU, was held at its campus in Bukit Jalil.

    7 March
    Hospital Port Dickson was officially launched as IMU’s teaching hospital.

    28 February
    A Memorandum of Agreement was signed between IMU and Kobe University. The signing of the agreement formalises a collaborative arrangement between the two institutions in areas relating to exchange of faculty members and research staff, joint research activities, support of lectures, research workshops and symposia, exchange of information and academic publications, and exchange of students.
  • Year 2003

    31 May
    YBhg Tan Sri Datuk Seri Chong Hon Nyan was officially installed as Pro-Chancellor of the University.

    15-16 March
    The Medical Education Colloquium organised by the IMU, was held at its campus in Bukit Jalil.
  • Year 2002

    29 November
    IMU’s Alumni website (http://imu.org.my) was launched. This date was chosen as it coincides with the first IMC Student Registration Day.

    12 October
    IMU Cares was launched in conjunction with the first Charity Run that was held in the Bukit Jalil campus.

    8 June
    The pioneer batch of 42 medical students graduated with MBBS (IMU) at Hotel Nikko, Kuala Lumpur.

    29 March
    IMU Clinical School in Batu Pahat was officially launched.
  • Year 2001

    University announces 2 IMU-University of Strathclyde Pharmacy Scholarships, each valued at more than RM100,000.

    The IMU obtained accreditation for its MBBS (IMU) from the National Accreditation Board (LAN).

    22 May
    IMU launched Medical Scholarships amounting to RM 1 million. Four scholarships are offered annually, each costing RM250,000. These would be offered for the September intake of each year.

    12 April
    The 10th Anniversary Celebration commenced with a dinner at Hotel Nikko, Kuala Lumpur. At the same event, the Strategic Plan for the next 10 years was launched. This plan charts out the activities for the second decade of development and direction of IMU as an organisation.

    21 March
    The Medical Museum was opened by YBhg Datuk Dr Kamal Salih, Chairman of the Board of Governors in a ceremony held at the IMU campus in Bukit Jalil.

    1 March
    Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Abu Bakar Suleiman was appointed President of the IMU.

    4 February
    University Day was officially launched, to commemorate the day IMC became IMU.
  • Year 2000

    1 January
    The IMU moved to a new and larger campus in Sesama Centre, Plaza Komanwel, Bukit Jalil. The university occupies three floors of the building with a built-up space of about 205,000 sq ft.
  • Year 1999

    20 September
    IMU Clinical School receives its first batch of 46 medical students.

    21 August
    First convocation as a university, held at Sheraton Imperial Hotel, Kuala Lumpur. At this convocation, the first Chancellor, YABhg Tun Mohamed Zahir was formally installed as first Chancellor.

    4 February
    College was granted university status and became the International Medical University (IMU) thus providing an additional option to students to read the whole medical degree in Malaysia towards the MBBS (IMU).
  • Year 1998

    A Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) programme was offered to replace the BSc (Hons) in Pharmacy. The MPharm is a newly introduced tertiaryqualification in the UK and replaces all BSc Pharmacy undergraduate courses as of October 1997. The MPharm is an undergraduate degree.
    Pioneer class of medical students and pharmacy students graduated from the Partner Universities.

    20 April
    IMC received an invitation from the then Minister of Education, YB Dato Seri Mohd Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, to become a university..
  • Year 1997

    31 May
    The first convocation held in Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, for pharmacy students who would be furthering their studies to University of Strathclyde, Scotland.
  • Year 1996

    4 March
    A twinned pharmacy programme with University of Strathclyde, BSc (Hons) in Pharmacy, was launched.

    3 February
    The first convocation for the college was held in Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan. The convocation was for medical students who would be furthering their studies to Partner Medical Schools abroad.
  • Year 1993

    29 November
    The pioneer batch of 75 students were enrolled in the medical programme.
  • Year 1992

    Professor John S Beck from the University of Dundee was appointed the Foundation Dean of the IMC.

    The International Medical College (IMC) was established in Kuala Lumpur by the then Minister of Education, YB Datuk Amar Dr Sulaiman Haji Daud. This was a pioneering effort involving a private medical training institution representing a totally new concept of international partnership for the twenty-first century. Initially, the college had five Partner Universities:
    • University of Aberdeen
    • Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland
    • University of Glasgow
    • University of Liverpool
    • University of Dundee
Cert No: KLR 0500119 KPM/JPT(N/010/3/0186)09/2018
KPM/JPT (R/721/6/0033)09/2019
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