In 1975, Foon Yew High School established its own Advanced Studies Programme. The board of directors of the school applied to set up a non-governmental college based on this programme. The institution was then approved in 1990 by the Ministry of Education and admitted its first batch of students in September of that year. It became known formally as Southern University College. It was not until 15 October 2000, however, that the college held its official opening ceremony, with former Prime Minister Datuk Abdullah Badawi as the officiator.
Since then, the college has branched out from its former Advanced Studies Programme, having established four schools which offer certificates, diplomas and degrees in the fields of Business & Management, Engineering & Information Technology, Humanities & Social Sciences and Art & Design. Southern College also offers Twinning Degrees with Teesside University and The University of Wales, UK.