Archive for the ‘Colleges / Universities - Issues’ Category

Making the case for a separate Higher Education Ministry

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020
The government should consider bringing back the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE). – NSTP file pic

LETTERS: Due to the complexity of our educational system and to reduce the burden on our Ministry of Education (MOE), the government should consider bringing back the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE).

MOHE was first established in 2004. It was responsible for higher education, polytechnic and community colleges, student loans, accreditation, student volunteers and other matters involving higher education.

After the 14th General Election in 2018, the new government decided to combine MOHE under MOE.

Unlike other countries, our country’s educational system is rather complex as it consists of many types of educational institutions.

Our education system is divided into preschool education, primary education, secondary education, post-secondary education and tertiary education. It is further divided into public and private education.

There are hundreds of schools in the country. There are also dozens of colleges and universities, not to mention technical and vocational institutions.

It will be very difficult for a single ministry under a single minister to give his or her full focus to deal with all issues and problems being faced by all the educational institutions.

These issues and problems also vary from one institution to another. The issues and problems faced by school teachers and pupils are different from those faced by lecturers and students at university level.

Ever since Pakatan Harapan took over, many plans were developed by the new government to improve the existing educational system at all levels.

To be frank, it will be very tough for the current ministry and its minister to give their full focus to all the issues and problems involving educational matters.

This will affect the government’s noble aim to carry out major reforms in our education system and all the educational institutions.

As such, it will be much better for the government to consider bringing back MOHE as a single entity along with a minister in charge of the ministry.

Bringing back MOHE will reduce the focus and burden faced by the existing MOE as matters involving higher education issues will be placed under a separate ministry, headed and supervised by another minister.

This would allow the existing ministry (namely MOE) to give its full focus on other remaining educational institutions and allow the government to reform our educational system and institutions for the sake of the country and our future generation.


Read more @

Education Ministry washes its hands of Zakir Naik exam question issue

Monday, December 30th, 2019

PETALING JAYA: The Education Ministry’s Higher Education Department will not interfere in the matter of exam questions from a public university that went viral, on the basis of “autonomy with accountability”.

The department said some questions from Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP) included lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender-related questions, Jawi consolidation and Zakir Naik being an “icon” of the Islamic world.

“We will not interfere in the conduct of academic programmes as we hold to the concept of autonomy with accountability.

“Through this, the university is responsible to all stakeholders, including students and the public, ” said the department in a statement Monday (Dec 30).

The department added that every university has an internal and external quality assurance system.

“Academic committees of each university (including the university senate) are responsible for their academic standards, ” it said.

UniMAP is expected to provide further clarification on this issue, the department added.

It also said that it constantly monitors universities’ excellence through a number of matrices such as graduates marketability, institutional excellence, and the university’s impact on industry and society.

The question is believed to be part of the university’s Ethnic Relations Course, and the test was held on Sunday (Dec 29).

The question reads: “Zakir Naik is one of the icons of the Islamic world, he is very active in spreading true Islam and following the Quran and Sunnah of Rasullah SAW. He is able to reason and to answer every question that is asked to him. However, in Malaysia, he is no longer allowed to deliver speeches. In your opinion, as a Malaysian, why does this happen?”

The answers provided were: (1) Malaysians do not bother getting actual information; (2) Malaysians are sensitive and feel threatened for no reason; 3) Malaysians just follow the crowd without verifying any information; or

4) Malaysians are ignorant about their own religion.

The multiple-choice question allows the student to choose more than one answer.

In August, Zakir was banned from delivering public speeches in Malaysia after he insulted Malaysians of Chinese and Indian descent, and is known for criticising other religions.

He was at the recent Kuala Lumpur Summit 2019, saying he was there at the invitation of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.


Read more @

Collaborating over research

Monday, December 23rd, 2019

Universities work with stakeholders to co-develop future-ready talents. –

WE are privileged to have been part of three exemplary university-industry consortiums from among world-leading universities in Europe.

My experiences with the Centre for Process Integration @University of Manchester, Centre for Process Systems Engineering @Imperial College of London, and Computer-Aided Product and Process Engineering Centre @Denmark Technical Universities have inspired our passion and success in attracting more than 2,000 collaborators to work with UTM in research and education.

We attribute this to our relentless efforts of driving values in our collaboration with industry, government, society/non-governmental organisations and other universities, and in building a compelling case on how collaborators could benefit from academia in areas of talent development, research and innovation, global network and community outreach.

Here is my top 10 list of what’s in it for our aspiring collaborators.

Area 1: Talent Development

1) Return on Investment on Talent

A university is not only the place for private/public sectors to scout and attract fresh talents. It is also a promising market for companies to promote their brands, products and services. Hence, multinational companies make tax-deductible contributions to universities’ endowments, giving donations and sponsoring chair professors, among others. Doing so enables companies to have more visibility for their products, services and brands.

2) Partnership in Talent Development

Universities work with stakeholders to co-develop future-ready talents and workforce for society. UTM, for example, officially appoints and incentivises individual experts/entrepreneurs from industry, government, NGOs as adjunct lecturers/professors, advisers and assessors.

We also engage captains of industry to share knowledge and experiences, and to mentor university leaders under the Education Ministry’s CEO@Faculty programmes. Such symbiotic partnerships are vital in developing not only future-ready talents, but also future-ready educators and flexible, lifelong, 4IR-ready learning and teaching curriculum and eco-system that ultimately benefits society.

3) Access to Flexible and Lifelong Education

Collaborators can have access to flexible, lifelong quality-assured education offered by universities. For example, UTM School of Professional and Continuing Education (UTMSPACE) that was established in 1993 enabled access to more than 160,000 working people who pursued degrees and programmes on flexible modes.

UTM, through UTMSPACE, is the only Malaysian university that offers part-time engineering degrees that are accredited by the Malaysian Engineering Accreditation Council and the Washington Accord.

UTM also offers flexible programmes such as part-time diploma, executive programmes, modular and special programmes, industrial master/PhD through residential as well as blended, online distance learning and remote supervision. Collaborators benefit from programme customisation, flexible supervision, credit transfer and discounts that further boost their chances of study success. Learners with qualifications lower than the requirement may apply to enrol in UTM academic programmes, using equivalent prior working experiences through the UTM APEL (Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning) Centre.

Area 2: Research and Innovation (R&I)

4) Access to R&I

Talents from among expert researchers, research officers, postgraduate and undergraduate students ensure that there are dedicated human resources to work on joint projects under academia-industry’s close supervision.

5) Grants For R&D, Prototyping, Commercialisation, Capacity Building and Lifelong Education

Available from the government, universities’ local and international private and public institutional networks in the form of matching or full funding. Companies investing in R&D in collaboration with universities can receive tax deductions from the government.

6) Physical Facilities

Accredited R&D labs and equipment allow collaborators to conduct experiments, product sampling, analysis and testing.

They could also leverage on universities’ well-equipped computational labs and data centres, digital and software solutions, and benefit from affordable access to conduct seminars, workshops and conferences.

7) Technology Incubators

Established as science and technology parks provide the safety net for start-up enterprises to grow their businesses. At such science parks, start-up enterprises (SME) have extensive access to mentoring and capacity building, commercialisation funds linked to universities, R&I resources, facilities and business network.

Area 3: Professional & Global Network

8) Work with Certified Professionals, Experts and Consultants

alaysian public universities are expected to achieve 30% certified professional practitioners from its staff by 2020, as part of the academic quality requirement.

At UTM, for example, nearly 30% of its academic staff are practitioners who are certified by various professional bodies.

9) Access to a Global Network

Establishing a global network is part and parcel of advancing a university’s core business of education and R&I. UTM forms special interest partnerships with more than 500 universities and institutions across 70 countries. Collaborators can leverage from universities’ global network for business expansion, sales and marketing of its products and services, people recruitment and development, R&I collaboration and even for organising corporate social responsibility programmes.

Area 4 :Corporate Social Responsibility

10) Leverage on High-Impact and Sustainable University Social Responsibility (USR) Programmes

Companies conduct Corporate Social Responsibility programmes to give back to society.

USR programmes, in contrast, are part of a university’s academic curriculum and mainstream research activity. USR’s impact to the community is objectively assessed and used to measure its academic excellence and research achievements. Most are designed as long term high-impact programmes as opposed to once-off activities.

Over the years, more than 2,000 public and private institutions had benefited from collaboration with UTM. Having access to UTM’s R&I ecosystem, network, resources, technology and know-how allow collaborators to add value, improve efficiency, raise competitiveness and drive innovation that ultimately enhances the image, profitability and sustainability of their businesses.

Deputy vice-chancellor
(Academic and International)
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM)
UTM Process Systems Engineering Centre

We welcome letters on issues related to education. Send to

The value of university education

Sunday, December 15th, 2019

The state-of-the-art Advanced Nano-Materials and Energy Research Lab, houses a series of high-technology equipment used for research on nanomaterials, energy efficiency and sustainable energy.

WITH an increasing number of recent graduates struggling to find desirable employment of an appropriate professional level, some students and their parents question the value of a university education.

This is not restricted to Malaysia. Even in the most highly developed nations, graduate unemployment or underemployment (taking jobs below graduate level) is a problem and governments worldwide also lament the situation. But does that mean fewer people should go to university?

In fact, the answer is quite the contrary as national GDP is well correlated with the tertiary education enrolment rates across the globe. In essence, the more people educated at tertiary level, the richer the country. Broadly speaking, higher participation levels in university level education seem to be good for economies overall.

Preparing graduates

The real challenge for countries such as Malaysia is firstly to ensure that graduates are well-prepared for the workplace. But secondly there must be the right conditions to ensure that well-trained graduates have opportunities open to them or can create their own opportunities. There are important roles both for universities and governments and their agencies

Wilkinson says universities are about far more than just imparting knowledge to young people.Wilkinson says universities are about far more than just imparting knowledge to young people.

To start with, universities need to provide curricula that make graduates fit for the 21st century workplace. This doesn’t mean that they have to be trained solely in practical subjects such as accounting, computer science, medicine or engineering. Degrees in the social sciences, arts and humanities have real value in terms of nurturing original thinkers and creating individuals who have excellent abilities in analysing problems and coming up with design solutions; or perhaps possess advanced linguistic skills that are required in professional jobs especially in an international context. Degrees in such fields often generate highly creative minds, able to look at problems, business issues, and product generation from completely new perspectives. At the same time, such degrees contribute to the cultural capital of a nation that is important in establishing an identity and in creating a culturally vibrant society with the arts embedded in everyday life.

Not all education has to be focused on the means of production for economic gain; some can be oriented toward societal gain. So what is needed to ensure that we can get maximum benefit as a nation from our graduates and that they themselves can lead fulfilling economically secure lives and reap due rewards from the investment of time and money in their university education?

Firstly, boosting graduate employment means having both work ready graduates and companies ready to employ them. Universities have a role to play in the former but the latter depends on companies having appropriate vacancies, either through retirements releasing posts, or through business expansion, which is a key factor.

Expanding market share will only boost domestic graduate employment rates if the expansion is at the expense of foreign competitors. Likewise, developing new products can lead to real job creation but only if development, production and selling such products generates a need for additional manpower. New products that can be produced by robots or sold via e-commerce generate few real jobs. It is only when the new products create a need for manpower all the way from product design to end customer servicing can they contribute to boosting graduate employment. This ultimately depends on the creation of products that are revolutionary and create the opportunities for existing companies or new ones to engage in rapid business expansion.Technological developments provide the opportunity for new products or business models to be created that are “disruptive”, to coin a commonly used expression these days.

The key requirement for healthy growth in a nation’s economy and improvement of graduate employment rates is for there to be sufficient innovation and disruption to stimulate the economy and give rise to strong growth. This is also an important factor in a country becoming a high income nation and ensuring higher levels of prosperity for all.

Innovation is vital

It is critical that we have high levels of innovation and products that are truly world class that can be competitive and sold internationally. For Malaysia, there are big opportunities in the fast emerging markets of Asean and in the giant markets of India and China if we have the right products. Geographically we are very well positioned.

There is a need for universities to work with entrepreneurs to take bright ideas to market and for companies to work with academia to develop products. It has to be said that all over the world, industrial companies are generally not good at investing in research and development or in collaborating with academic researchers, but this kind of cooperation has been central to some of the rapid growth of high technology industries in countries such as the US. If we can get it right, then there is much scope to stimulate business growth through new technological developments taken to market.

Universities have a key role to play both in training the next generation of knowledge workers and undertaking advanced research and development on new products, and most importantly nurturing some graduates to become entrepreneurs.

For economic growth we need the combination of talent, creativity, new knowledge and products, and entrepreneurs who can take new products forward. Not every graduate should become an entrepreneur. But increasing numbers should do so if we want to stimulate growth and graduate employment more broadly.

The Sunway experience

At Sunway University, we aim to play a role in all aspects through undertaking research in advanced fields such as nano-technology, creating graduates from employment focused degrees with the right knowledge and skills to find a role in industry, and nurturing entrepreneurs. The latter we do both through our degree in entrepreneurship and through our innovation facility (the Sunway iLabs) which gives support to our students on how to start a business. These support mechanisms add to the value of our degrees and are designed to make some of our graduates more entrepreneurial and able to take forward their own ideas for their future careers rather than relying on someone else to give them a job.

So universities are about far more than just imparting knowledge to young people. They have a critical role in economic expansion and in helping young people to create jobs as well as get hired. Whatever the field of study, academia needs to help its graduates contribute economically as well as socially, and while technological degrees or more broadly “STEM” (science, technology, engineering and maths) degrees are the most prized, there are significant roles for graduates in all fields in an expanding economy. That’s why university education has value to a nation as a whole.

The writer is Sunway University vice-chancellor. Sunway University is a contributor to the Star Education Fund.

Read more @

Maximising benefits of student cards

Wednesday, December 4th, 2019
Ryan Yap Mun Fai (standing, centre) borrowing a book from the university’s library with his student card.

A STUDENT card is provided to each university student as an identification document to verify his status.

It is one of the first things that students receive upon enrolling at a tertiary education institution.

Apart from identification, student cards serve a very important purpose in helping students to save.

By flashing the cards,they are eligible for a plethora of financial benefits from their universities and retailers.

The benefits are available across different categories ranging from education, transportation, food and beverages to entertainment.

A Student using his student card for printing services on campus.

Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation student Ryan Yap Mun Fai, 19, owns three student cards — namely the APU student card, Kad Diskaun Siswa from Bank Rakyat and MyRapid student concession card.

Students are provided with cheaper options, said Yap.

“The cards allow me to save while I can, which is extremely important if you’re a student.”

His student identification cards entitle him to a number of benefits on campus.

“With my APU student card, I can get access to many facilities at university, such as the gym,e-Library system and shuttle bus.

“I can also preload the card and use it to pay for printing services and purchase food or any items at the cafe and convenience store on campus,” added Yap.

While the privileges and rewards exist, it begs the question: do varsity students in the country make the most of the student cards?

FOR Abdul Hakim Abdul Rahim, 19, from Universiti Malaya, his university student card offers him more convenience and flexibility in his studies.

“The card gives me access to the UM library and the 24-hour study area. I can also borrow any books from the library for free.”

Lim Jia Hao, 22, from Universiti Putra Malaysia said that he uses his student cards frequently.

“To get around campus, I need to show my student card before boarding the UPM bus. I also use the card to access the university library.

“Not only that, the credit inside the card can be used to buy textbooks in UPM, as a part of the university’s book plan.”

Lim said he makes full use of MyRapid student concession card and KTM i-card to board public transportation.

“I use the KTM i-card every week as well as to get to Terminal Bersepadu Selatan to return to my hometown in Johor.”

Lee Wai Yen, 21, from APU said: “My student card enables me to access the parking facilities, gym and meeting rooms. I can also track my expenses and use the card for the shuttle bus services.”


All work and no play is not the healthy way to live. Students need to find a balance between studies and social life.

With the student cards, attending a university in the city does not stop Abdul Hakim from being cost-savvy when it comes to entertainment.

“I often use my student card to buy movie tickets at MBO and TGV for a cheaper price which is a huge money saver.

“There is also a discount for students subscribing to digital platforms like Apple Music. On average, I can save about RM50 to RM70 a month,” said Abdul Hakim.

According to Lim, entertainment serves as an affordable form of a stress-reliever.

“During my free time, I watch movies and go bowling where I can get discounts with my student card.

“I also enjoy going out to sing karaoke with my friends at Neway Karaoke and Loudspeaker which offer a special price for students,” said Lim.

Students can also score great deals at certain food outlets.

Lim said: “As a student, I am entitled to discounts at popular restaurants such as Kenny Rogers Roasters and Bar BQ Plaza. In total, I can save up to RM50 each month.”

“I have experienced getting a student discount for a buffet treat at Seoul Garden,” added Abdul Hakim.

Yap pointed out that students can also get special deals at The Chicken Rice Shop as well as five per cent off at KFC.

Apart from being a means to unwind, going out is also essential to purchase necessities for their studies.

Lee said: “I can use my student ID to buy books and stationery at Popular bookstore and Apple products for a lower price. Students are entitled to RM500 discount for electronic devices like laptops and iPads.”

Yap added: “There are student discounts at Times bookshop and Orange Technology where I can get up to 15 per cent off for computers. After making use of these deals, my monthly savings can increase by RM80 to RM100.”

It is important for students to look presentable in class especially when there is a presentation.

“To buy clothes for university, I can get discounts from outlets like Cotton On and Forever 21,” said Lee.


However, some university students are in the dark about the various perks of a student card.

Universiti Teknologi Mara chemical engineering student Sofea Jasmeen Johari, 21, said that she seldom uses her student cards.

“I only use the card for discounts when buying books and to gain access to the Society of Petroleum Engineers which is a paid journal, for free.

“Personally, I have yet to use the card for

food or lifestyle. Except for the ones that I mentioned, I don’t really know much about the use of the card. That is why I don’t use it more often,” added Sofea.

Danial Azman, 23, from International Islamic University Malaysia said that there is a lack of awareness among students.

“Many students do not know about the special discounts or the process of getting the transportation concession cards.

“As a user since 2015, the tedious renewal process can be a reason why students do not use it that much,” said Danial.

According to Lim, it is unfortunate that some students do not appreciate the advantages that come with owning the student cards.

“It’s a pity and a waste that they don’t make good use of the student card. They should be more aware about the benefits while they are at university.”

Lim added: “Today, it should be easy for students to gain information online from social media. They can find out about student promotions offered by stores easily, especially on food and beverages.”

Meanwhile, Abdul Hakim said that the lack of use may be due to insufficient information and promotion.

“We rarely see universities informing students about the benefits or other companies actively reaching out to promote their products to students. Students will only know about the discounts whenever we discover them ourselves.”

By Rayyan Rafidi.

Read more @

Moving in the right direction

Sunday, December 1st, 2019

UM looks at rankings as a benchmark for it to gauge its position and plan for further improvement. — File photo

TWENTY one of Malaysia’s 29 top universities have risen in the 2020 edition of the QS World University Rankings: Asia.

Universiti Malaya (UM) reached its highest position and placed 13th in Asia.

The results demonstrate that Malaysian universities are becoming increasingly competitive, relative to regional peers.

UM is joined in the regional top 50 by its fellow research universities, all of which have improved their rank. (see table)

They are Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) (33rd, up one place); Universiti Sains Malaysia (37th, up six places); Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (39th, up two places), and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (46th, up one place).

QS has ranked the continent’s 550 best institutions, according to a bespoke 11-metric methodology.

QS research director Ben Sowter said the dataset includes the world’s largest surveys of global academic and employer opinion regarding university quality.

“Malaysia’s rise is primarily attributable to its improving performance in the two key reputational surveys used by QS to compile the rankings,” he said.

In the Academic Reputation indicator, which utilises the insights of over 94,000 academics regarding university quality, he said 22 of Malaysia’s 29 ranked universities have improved their performance.

In the Employer Reputation indicator, which utilises the insights of over 44,000 employers regarding the quality of a university’s graduates, 18 of Malaysia’s 29 ranked universities have improved their rank;

“QS’s dataset indicates that the increasing academic recognition being achieved by Malaysia’s universities is primarily due to the work that its universities have done to improve their global research collaborations,” he said.

To measure the diversity of a university’s global network, Sowter said QS uses an indicator called International Research Network.

“UM receives the highest score of any Asian institution for International Research Network, and four of the top 10 scores are achieved by Malaysian universities,” he said.

In total, 17 of Malaysia’s 29 ranked universities have improved their International Research Network score.

Sowter said the overall scores achieved by the country’s universities provide compelling evidence that they are moving in the right direction.Continued improvements

UM vice-chancellor Datuk Abdul Rahim Hashim said the milestone achievement sees UM breaking its own record and moving upwards for the ninth consecutive year.

Since the start of this rankings in 2009, he said UM has consistently improved by 26 places, and remains as the nation’s best in its overall position.

In addition, the university is also ranked top in the nation under six indicators, placing UM within the top 3% of the Asian universities ranked.

“The results serve to prove that UM is internationally competitive, with academic standards that are at par with the world’s top universities,” he said.

Abdul Rahim said UM looks at rankings as a benchmark for it to gauge its position and as a way of planning for further improvement.

The rise is evidence of the success in the implementation of UM’s strategic plans, he said, adding these strengthen the university’s fundamentals, and has led to a steady rise in UM’s position both regionally in

Asia as well as in the QS World University Rankings 2020, of which UM is currently ranked 70th.

UPM vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Aini Ideris said UPM has been progressing up the rankings for the past six years.

The university scored highest in its International Research Network indicator, ranking eighth in Asia.

She said UPM will continue to focus on strengthening its research impact through collaborations with industry and international partners.

Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) moved up 18 places to 119th this year.

“The employer reputation remains UiTM’s strongest position at 53rd in Asia,” said UiTM vice-chancellor Emeritus Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Azraai Kassim in a statement.

He said the improvement in five indicators is a result of the synergised efforts of UiTM staff, students and management in developing strategies towards achieving a high performing university status. Making their mark

Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) is the top private institution among its Malaysian counterparts. It is ranked in 82nd place.

UTP deputy vice-chancellor (Research and Innovation) Prof Dr Mohd Shahir Liew said the university has focused on regional research concerns in a structured manner by understanding the various business and scientific needs of the various countries in moving forward.

“UTP has embarked on a transformational approach on its research strategy based on its capability and strength of the researchers in addressing two major trends and challenges namely Smart Living and Energy Sustainability,” he added.

UCSI University is proud to have climbed 56 spots to rank 122nd this year. The university said it was on the right direction towards achieving academic excellence.

“Essentially, UCSI focuses on the fundamentals to provide the best for its students,” it said in a statement.

Management and Science University (MSU) president Prof Tan Sri Dr Mohd Shukri Ab Yajid is pleased with MSU’s jump to 179th spot this year from the 271-280 band in the previous year.

“One of the the pillars at the university is building the research culture and ecosystem.

“This includes research projects and translational research as well as the commercialisation of the output,” he added.

He said MSU has seen vast improvement over the last 12 months.

“We are glad that we can see the positive outcome of what we do, through the initiatives done by our Research Management Centre,” he added.

Taylor’s University vice-chancellor and president Prof Michael Driscoll said the increase in the ranking is a vote of confidence in the strategy that the university is pursuing.

“In the last few years we have totally transformed the university by introducing radical reforms to our approach to teaching and research and by broadening our international reach.

“Our employer partners have strongly signalled their approval of the direction Taylor’s is taking,” he said.

Taylor’s University jumped 26 spots to rank 109th.

The National University of Singapore tops the listing followed by Nanyang Technological University and the University of Hong Kong.

Read more @

Be alert to plagiarism

Friday, November 29th, 2019

SUMARNI Mansur was doing her foundation studies when she had her assignment returned for committing an academic offence — she had plagiarised an essay.

“I was surprised because it was something that I did not do on purpose. I thought the Internet is a public domain and simply took some content from websites, probably another person’s work without providing any credit or citation.

“As I was new to tertiary education, I did not know how to put ideas into words. I had poor English at that time,” said Sumarni, who is a postgraduate Engineering student at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM).

Sumarni Mansur.

Having to rewrite the assignment, she had been briefed by her lecturer on the importance of respecting copyrighted materials and the consequences of plagiarism. Later, she enrolled in an academic writing class.

Plagiarism is a form of cheating and academic dishonesty.

It refers to taking someone else’s work or idea and passing it off as your own. The original work is hidden from the assessor, whether by not citing it properly or by not mentioning it at all.

Plagiarism, although not new in academia, is a growing concern in higher learning institutions and it deals with ethical and integrity issues.

According to UTM Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities dean Professor Dr Zaidatun Tasir, ideas and works are

not confined to written texts only, but also include images, videos, audio, graphics and designs.

Classes on plagiarism and academic writing help students to understand what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it.

“In academia, giving incorrect information about the source, copying the sentence structure and changing only certain words are categorised as plagiarising.

“Plagiarism may occur in different circumstances. A person plagiarises when he publishes an abstract, article, academic paper or a book which is entirely or partly written by another person yet claiming himself as the author.

“It is unacceptable if he incorporates himself or allows himself to be acknowledged as a co-author of a publication when he has not made any written contribution to the paper. A person who uses research data obtained through collaborative work with other individuals as part of a publication in his own name as a sole author without obtaining the consent of his co-researchers can be regarded as plagiarising as well.

UTM Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities dean Professor Dr Zaidatun Tasir.

“Plagiarism also includes extracting ideas from another person’s writing or creation and making certain modifications without due reference to the original source, and rearranging them in a way that the ideas appear as his,” Zaidatun continued.

Professor Dr Nor Aziah Alias, who is Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) director of academic development at the academic affairs division, said that the tendency to plagiarise normally involves tasks that require intensive writing such as term paper, thesis and project report.

Nor Aziah revealed that even without a plagiarism checker software, lecturers can still detect the act by reading through the text.

“Being an expert in the field, we read a lot pertaining to the subject matter. Coming across a text of high familiarity in its theories, knowledge or published findings, lecturers tend to remember that they have read the content elsewhere.

“A quick Google search of a familiar phrase will easily reveal its source,” she added.

Zaidatun explained: “We still can detect plagiarism through the quality of writing. A plagiarised text may be too perfect, with eloquent words and well-expressed thoughts, which we know is beyond what the students are capable of.

“Lecturers may also question the originality of the works produced due to inconsistency of ideas and writing flow. This could be the result of copying from different sources.”

Professor Dr Nor Aziah Alias.

While a simple “copy and paste” may save students a lot of time, not many are informed of the stern penalties having involved in committing the academic misconduct.

Nor Aziah added: “In our university, plagiarism is totally unacceptable. A student who plagiarises, once proven, may be given a fail grade for the assignment or the course, barred from continuing in the semester, or be dismissed from the university. In worse circumstances, diplomas and degrees may be retracted.

“We had a PhD thesis reek with paragraphs taken from other sources. In the case, the student did not receive his doctorate.”

She added that plagiarising does not only occur among students. In academic settings, it is an act that anyone could potentially commit, including lecturers.

“In some cases, there is a tendency for a lecturer to present his previously published work as new. This is known as self-plagiarism.

“The need to churn out publications may result in reproducing data or findings. Some academicians don’t find using their own published work wrong as it is theirs. We had lecturers who were admonished for unintentionally doing this.”

UiTM second year Faculty of Law student Nurul Fatiha Norsip said she has to do a lot of research as the course demands that she be precise when stating something, by referring to the authorities.

Nurul Fatiha Norsip.

“Therefore, it is crucial for me to be familiar with the style of paraphrasing and quoting the content that I mention to avoid plagiarism. However, I have a friend who was caught plagiarising his assignment. He was warned and needed to repeat that particular subject,” she said.


Students may plagiarise for a number of reasons, ranging from laziness to ignorance.

Zaidatun pointed out that often the problem is committed unknowingly due to underdeveloped academic skills.

“Plagiarism is the product of lack of critical thinking, creativity and self-confidence towards one’s own work. Other than that, students can be tempted to plagiarise written works when they are under pressure. They could be overwhelmed by too many assignments from different subjects which eventually lead to poor time management.

“As a result, they may be doing last minute work to catch up with the deadlines of submissions. They may take the easy way out and copy others’ works out of urgency hoping that no one will notice,” said Zaidatun.

Third year UiTM Human Resource and Management student Muhammad Aznur Syah Azman said that plagiarism is unfortunately becoming more common as the information age progresses.

“Due to the vast accessibility to materials and data on the Internet, it is easy for students to directly take content for their assignments without properly crediting the source,” said Muhammad Aznur, who is also UiTM Student Representative Council president.

“Copying the work of others is definitely easier than coming up with your own sentences. In addition, the articles found online sound more eloquent and error-free. These are some of the reasons why some students may cut corners with their written tasks.

Muhammad Aznur Syah Azman.

“Students may commit the act on purpose or accidentally due to the lack of understanding of the consequences of plagiarism. During my diploma years, I had a subject on academic writing. During the class we were exposed to what is plagiarism and why it is wrong to do it.”

For Sumarni, the main factor in this issue is a poor command of the English language.

“It is especially a challenge for second language speakers. Academic writing needs good language skills to understand the works of others and to write your own.

“When you have a good understanding of a subject, you will be less likely to ‘steal’ others’ ideas and claim them as your own. Before writing the academic paper, it is important for students to dive deeper into the subject and read extensively from other sources. To do so, they need a strong command of the language.

Students with limited vocabulary and poor grammar may use the readily available sentences or ideas from other researchers.

A simple “copy and paste” leading to committing academic misconduct.

She continued: “Another reason why I believe plagiarism is prevalent among postgraduate students is due to the pressure of fulfilling the key performance index laid out by the institution or postgraduate supervisors.

“Owing to the pervasive culture of publish or perish, students become highly competitive in producing plenty of academic papers, with quantity emphasised over quality.”


Academic integrity is key, stressed Nor Aziah. She said that education is not just about getting the scroll; it is a platform to holistically educate individuals on high integrity, soft skills, values and social competency.

“Earning a diploma or a degree through crafty ways such as cheating or plagiarising not only undermines the certification but also produces graduates who may later cut corners to achieve what they want. A thriving society is built upon strong values and trustworthiness.

“In lectures of any subject, the attainment of learning outcomes is of utmost important. As lecturers, we are very cautious in designing the syllabus or modules which include content delivery and assessments that are aligned to the stipulated outcomes.

“Originality in both formative and summative assessments is vital to indicate that the actual attainment happens for each student.

Plagiarising is a serious academic offence, which many may not be aware of.

“By plagiarising, a number of parties have been wronged — the person from whom the work has been plagiarised, the lecturer who may assess and provide marks that do not illustrate the actual capability of the student, the academic administrator and management who use the achievement data to make further academic and institutional decisions, and the student whose credentials may not reflect his genuine achievements.”

If students don’t understand the rules of copyright, the idea of intellectual property will not be valued, added Sumarni.

“Students should be exposed to the issue of plagiarism earlier like during secondary school, and not only when they enter a higher learning institution.”


The key to avoiding plagiarism is to give credit where it is due, said Zaidatun.

“Students need to be exposed to the correct way of writing in-text citations. Therefore, organising talks or workshops on plagiarism is the first step to remind the students of the misconduct or behaviour.

“In lectures, sharing previous cases of plagiarism and their penalties can be another initiative to raise awareness among students.

“Other than that, carrying out a self-reflection assessment by asking students to reflect on how they produce their writings and assignments is another approach to avoid plagiarised work,” she said.

Zaidatun added that all written works from graded assignments to academic journals of students and academic staff must be checked through plagiarism detection software prior to submission, with the report verified by the top management of the faculty.

Students may be tempted to take the easy way out by copying content from online websites without proper referencing.

“We use plagiarism detection software such as Turnitin which is used by many students, lecturers and institutions as it is easy and highly accessible.

“In addition, we have in-house plagiarism software developed by UTM researchers where it can detect beyond copyright content — the flow of ideas, writing style, as well as data similarities across different languages including English, Malay, Persian and Arabic,” she said.

Nor Aziah said: “The university uses Turnitin or Grammarly for detecting plagiarism. However, we caution lecturers or examiners to scrutinise the similarity index before concluding that the work is plagiarised.

“Blatant use of technology may result in students being treated unfairly.

“UiTM has its own policy on plagiarism — it is reviewed periodically to ensure relevance in the era of technology to provide rich learning environment.”

Muhammad Aznur said that to minimise plagiarism, he seeks instructor’s guidance from time to time.

“Speaking to my lecturers on the assignment content helps a lot especially when I have doubts in doing citations. “Good time management also ensures the work submitted is of good quality. It is better to start early on an assignment rather than push it to the last minute. Procrastination can put students in difficult situation where plagiarism is the only viable option to get things done.”

Nurul Fatiha is aware of the penalties of committing plagiarism.

“Realising that it is wrong to plagiarise, I am getting used to the practice of paraphrasing and citing someone’s work to respect the author’s ideas. It is also an ethical thing to do — to acknowledge the original writer,” she said.

By Murniati Abu Karim.

Read more @

University of the year for student experience.

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

THE University of Dundee has been named University of the Year for Student Experience by The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020.

This title confirms that University of Dundee is one of the best places in the United Kingdom to be a student.

It follows the university being placed fourth in the UK for overall satisfaction in this year’s National Student Survey, while Dundee was also named the Best Place to Live in Scotland by the Sunday Times earlier this year. Furthermore, the university was ranked second in the UK and sixth globally in the most recent International Student Barometer.

Dundee University Students’ Association (DUSA) president Josh Connor said, “This award won’t be surprising for anyone who studies at the University of Dundee. We are a community, a family, and that is why our student experience is the best in the UK, because we look out for each other.

“I’m proud of the integral role that DUSA plays in enhancing the student experience. We are in constant communication with the university about what is going well for students, but also what isn’t going well. This partnership of collaboration helps us to achieve the best possible student experience.”

Students said the quality of teaching, strong student representation, the friendly nature of a campus set in the heart of the city, the variety of life offered both on campus and off, and even the weather all contributed to Dundee being a great place to study.

Pursue your studies at University of Dundee in the UK for the best student experience.Pursue your studies at University of Dundee in the UK for the best student experience.

The university’s Malaysian Society president Kexin See agreed with that assessment, saying, “I love the fact that the University of Dundee is located near the city centre and everything is within walking distance. The teaching staff are friendly and they are happy to help whenever you need it. In lecture and workshops, they are engaging and always interact with students.

“Dundee is a small city with a very student-friendly environment. During the weekend, I will go to places in Dundee where I can relax and enjoy a picturesque view. The hills, parks and beaches are the perfect places to spend my free time to have a picnic or just to have a sunrise or sunset walk.”

Federica Chiti, a 20-year-old third-year Physics with Astrophysics student, from Italy, said, “What I love about Dundee is that you are not a number, you are a name. The staff are so friendly and they go above and beyond in helping you with your studies.

“When I first came here, I was afraid of the accent but actually I had nothing to fear, everyone is so friendly and when you study here you meet new friends from all over the globe which is amazing because you get to share your culture and passions. Having students from all these different corners of the planet is just amazing, Dundee is like my staircase to the universe.”

Student representation in university matters is very strong at Dundee, through a partnership agreement renewed every year between the university and DUSA. This ensures students are represented at every level of the university’s decision-making structure and are full members of panels for all senior management appointments.

Professor Blair Grubb, Education vice-principal added that, “This award shows that Dundee is one of the best places in the UK to be a student. This is something our students have consistently said in the major surveys of universities, where we are ranked highly in comparison to other universities in the UK and internationally.

“Our priority is to offer our students the best experience we can, to make them feel welcome, safe and enabled to realise their potential. We do that by working very closely with the Students’ Association and with the support of great staff across the university.”

Read more @

CUCMS gets university status

Monday, November 4th, 2019

Siti Hamisah (left) presented the Certificate of Registration to (from second left) Palan, Ridzwan and Mohamad.

CYBERJAYA University College of Medical Sciences (CUCMS) is now officially known as University of Cyberjaya.

The institution that was set up in 2005 has been invited to upgrade to university status by the Education Ministry, making it the newest private university in the nation.In a simple yet meaningful ceremony on Tuesday, Higher Education Department director-general Datuk Dr Siti Hamisah Tapsir presented the Certificate of Registration to the university’s pro chancellor Tan Sri Dr R Palan, Board of Governors chairman Tan Sri Dr Ridzwan Bakar and president and vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Mohamad Abd Razak.

“The institution has grown over the years. Because of the name, professionalism and courses offered by the institution, it met the criteria that was required to become a university.

“We must now call CUCMS the University of Cyberjaya, ” said Siti Hamisah.

With the upgrade in status, Palan said that the university intends to increase its focus on developing programmes that will incorporate critical elements in support of Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR 4.0) in more traditional disciplines such as healthcare.

“This is in support of the Global Technology Hub Blueprint for Cyberjaya launched by the Finance Ministry, ” he pointed out.

First established over 14 years ago, the University of Cyberjaya initially offered medical and pharmaceutical programmes only.

Now the university offers over 30 different programmes in the areas of medical, pharmaceutical, applied sciences, engineering and business.It has five stars under the Rating for Higher Education Institutions in Malaysia (Setara), which was awarded by the ministry in 2017.

It was recently awarded a 5-Star rating for the categories of Teaching, Facilities, Employability and Inclusiveness under the QS Stars programme produced by the publishers of the QS World University Rankings.

Palan added that the upgrade to full university status marked a significant milestone for the institution’s growing stature as a leading institute of higher learning in the region.

“With the comprehensive offering of undergraduate and graduate programmes, including our expansion to doctoral programmes, the University of Cyberjaya’s educational profile is already well-positioned with the academic distinction of a nationally and internationally recognised private university, ” he said.

Mohamad believed that biomedical engineering, wearable technologies and innovation in drug technology are potential fields of expertise for the institution.

He attributed the achievement to the university’s leadership team, academicians and staff who have clocked in hours of hard work, made sacrifices and put in their commitment.

“We have come a long way and have brought together a strong faculty team led by experienced education professionals and academics with both local and international experiences, providing the perfect combination to take the university to greater heights, ” he said.

Meanwhile, Siti Hamisah gave an hour-long lecture on the Future of Higher Education in Malaysia as part of the institution’s Distinguished Lecture Series programme to an audience of 600.

The audience consisted of the higher management of several universities, academicians, researchers and students.

The talk shed light on the landscape of higher education, its challenges and youth development, among other areas.

Given that the world is growing increasingly complex at a rapid pace, she noted that software revolution is reshaping the economy, with 50% of existing jobs expected to be replaced by software and automation in the future.

“We have to move away from traditional conference-based lessons and create authentic learning experiences that connect students with real-world problems and work environments, ” she stressed.

She also touched on initiatives the ministry is undertaking to reduce the graduate unemployment rate in the country.

Concluding the lecture, Siti Hamisah said tertiary education providers need to transform their delivery of knowledge and put in more focus on real-world work.

Read more @

Children must be grateful with parents

Monday, October 28th, 2019
PENAMPANG: Children should be grateful to their parents for giving them education, love, money including spiritual and physical protection.
“You would not be on stage without your parents help,” said Law and Native Affairs Assistant Minister Jannie Lasimbang at SMK Bahang Penampang graduation ceremony held at International Technology & Commercial Centre (ITCC) Penampang.
“But, parents need to ensure that the efforts by the teachers at school in educating their children must be continued at home too,” she said.
She also added that religious education for the younger generation is essential to the building of faith, courage and upholding the principles of truth and trust.

Some 309 Form Five students and 10 students of Special Education Interaction Programme (PPKI) took part in the graduation recently.

School Principal Margaret Chee said parents should encourage and extend moral support to their children so that the latter would have confidence to sit for the SPM.