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 , YAB 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. Today, KTAR has an enrolment of about 33,000 students taking 110 courses spread over six campuses in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Perak, Johor, Pahang and Sabah.
On 5 July 2001, the Minister of Education, YB Tan Sri Musa Mohamad, invited the MCA to establish UTAR. A steering committee, chaired by YABhg Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik was formed to draw up a blueprint. A working committee led by YBhg 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.
UTAR would comprise the following:
- Faculty of Accountancy and Management
- Faculty of Arts and Social Science
- Faculty of Information & Communication Technology
- Faculty of Engineering and Science
- Faculty of Medicine and Health Science
- Institute of Postgraduate Studies and Research
- Centre for Extension Education
These five Faculties, Institute and centre would offer a comprehensive range of courses to meet the varied needs of our students.
Set to be a premier university in the future, 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 programmes and courses of studies. The historic inaugural meeting of the IAC chaired by Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik, Chairman of UTAR Council, took place on 15 April 2002 . It was indeed a meeting of keen minds with a myriad of vibrant ideas which provided an excellent start for the new University.
The University began by offering eight Honours degree programmes through three faculties:
- Faculty of Information and Communication Technology (FICT)
- Faculty of Arts and Social Science (FAS)
- Faculty of Accountancy and Management (FAM)
These eight programmes, approved by the Ministry of Education, were:
- Bachelor of Computer Science (Hons)
- Bachelor of Information Systems (Business Information Systems) (Hons)
- Bachelor of Information Systems (Information Systems Engineering) (Hons)
- Bachelor of Accounting (Hons)
- Bachelor of Business Administration (Hons)
- Bachelor of Communication (Journalism) (Hons)
- Bachelor of Communication (Public Relation) (Hons)
- Bachelor of Arts (Chinese Studies) (Hons)
On 10 June 2002, UTAR welcomed its first intake of 411 students to its Petaling Jaya Campus. On 13 August 2002, YABhg Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad, then Prime Minister of Malaysia, officially launched UTAR.