The Jeffrey Cheah Foundation recently announced plans to establish an endowment fund that would help safeguard the long-term sustainability of Malaysia’s largest education-focused social enterprise.
The Foundation’s Board of Trustees in charge of managing the Endowment Fund
The fund, which is expected to reach over RM1 billion in the next decade, will be launched once amendments to related legislation have been made. Speaking at the announcement, Tan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah said the foundation was in talks with the government about this while pointing out that currently the foundation is required to disburse at least 50% of its funds received in the following year.
“This is very different from the rules in many other countries such as the United States and Singapore. In these countries, institutions that are allowed to receive donations can set them aside for investment or to be placed in fixed deposit accounts.”
With the principal amount properly invested, institutions could then use the interests accrued to fund their activities, faculties, facilities and research. The initial amount meanwhile stays untouched.
Tan Sri Dr Jeffreh Cheah speaking at the announcement
The eventual changes to the law would also encourage more people to donate towards endowment funds and help ensure universities are better protected financially. Currently, the vast majority of universities in Malaysia are overly dependent on student fees alone which are in most cases not nearly enough to keep them from running.
While helping to achieve the Foundation’s mission to engage in nation-building through education, research and sustainable development initiatives, the fund will also go towards the establishment of more professorial chairs at Sunway University.
These chairs comprise eminent professors from the world’s top academic institutions, who are invited to share their knowledge and expertise with academics and students in Malaysia. They include individuals from the University of Cambridge, University of Oxford and Harvard University – three prominent institutions that have forged academic ties with Sunway University, marking in many cases the first such collaborations in the world.
“All these partnerships are aligned with our view that in order to become the best, we have to work with the best and learn from the best. They are also aimed at bringing world-class expertise to Malaysia and enhancing the nation’s knowledge base,” said Tan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah.
Looking into the future, the Foundation has robust plans in the pipeline, including the establishment of the first U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network HQ at Sunway City KL, the commencement of a Cambridge Medical Curriculum at Sunway University, and the founding of the Cambridge Clinical Research Centre at Sunway Medical Centre.