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First established in 1959 as the Department of Economics within the Faculty of Arts, University of Malaya in 1959. The Faculty of Economics and Administration (FEA) was founded in May 1966 to meet the nation's growing demand for a professional workforce. Beginning with just 14 students and three academic personnel, headed by Royal Professor Ungku Aziz, FEA has evolved into a flourishing academic community of 1076 students, and 58 academic staff, among them professors and lecturers with international reputation in their respective fields.

Drawing the strength of four departments; Economics, Administrative Studies and Politics, Development Studies and Applied Statistics, FEA currently offers the Bachelor of Economics degree, and four programmes at the postgraduate level, Master of Economics, Master of Public Administration, Master of Applied Statistics and Doctor of Philosophy. Of the 1076 students, 487 are enrolled in the undergraduate programme while the rest are postgraduate students, including 98 international students from various countries such as Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, China, Nigeria, Sudan, Pakistan, Myanmar, Kazaskhtan, Uzbekistan, Maldives, Greese, Ghana, Japan, Somalia, Thailand, Afghanistan, Libya, Bangladesh, South Korea, Syria, Egypt, Gambia and Canada.

The FEA also administers the Population Studies Unit (PSU) that was set up in 1979 as part of the Population and Family Health Project funded by the World Bank and the United Nations Fund for Population Activities. Research and training on population related issues are conducted under the auspices of the PSU.

The FEA is intensively engaged in enhancing academic excellence in the field of monetary and financial economics through the Tun Ismail Ali Chair (TIAC), established in August 2000. As of 31st December 2011, there have been five distinguished holders of the Chair, Professor Ronald Ian McKinnon, Professor Dr. Yilmaz Akyuz, Tan Sri Andrew L.T. Sheng, Professor Dr. Takatoshi Ito and Professor Ajit Singh.

To initiate and enhance research, teaching and dissemination of evidence-based knowledge in the area of social security, including old age financial protection, the Social Security Research Centre (SSRC) was established in March 2011. The Employee Provident Fund (EPF) of Malaysia has graciously provided an endowment fund to establish centre and the nation’s first endowed Chair in Old Age Financial Protection (OAFPC) at University of Malaya.

In November 2006, the Royal Professor Ungku Aziz Chair was established to honour the contribution of Royal Professor Ungku Aziz in the fields of education and economic development. Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs is the first holder of the Royal Professor Ungku Aziz Chair.  In conjunction with the establishment of the Chair, the Centre for Poverty and Development Studies was set up at the Faculty to serve as a focal point for academic work, research, consultancy and technical assistance in areas related to poverty and development.

In upholding its research stance, the FEA collaborates with the Malaysian Economic Association in the publication of an international journal, the Malaysian Journal of Economic Studies. FEA also has produced the International Journal of Institutions and Economies (IJIE).