Archive for the ‘Colleges / Universities - Issues’ Category

Higher Education Should Change System To Suit Younger Generation

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

News Pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 1 (Bernama) — The education system in universities should change in order to tailor to the needs of the younger generation, said Higher Education Minister, Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh.

He said that the ministry was currently engaging with relevant parties to obtain insights in order to turn the education revolution 4.0 a success.

“Our higher education system needs to be adapted in line with technology and student generation. These ideas will be taken and incorporated into the framework of the education revolution 4.0,” he said after the Pitch for Progress 2.0 here at Asia Pacific University.

The education revolution 4.0 is part of the industrial revolution 4.0 accuring worldwide, that sees the current trend of automation and data exchange which includes cyber-physical systems, cloud computing and cognitive computing.

Three universities, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and MAHSA University have dominated the top three with their respective pitches.

UKM Inspire 4.0 team in their pitch had suggested flexspace, a module whereby students can design their own courses according to their own capability, USM Successors asked for a more casual lean-classroom concept while MAHSA Maverics suggested an online trial courses for students.

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Getting the best of both academic worlds.

Friday, September 29th, 2017

As students embark on the 2017/2018 academic year, the author reflects on his time at an Islamic university as well as the oldest English-speaking university in the world.

HAVE you ever seen a poster of the Powerpuff Girls wearing the tudung (Islamic headscarf)?

I have. And I thought it was quite creative.

It was my first day entering the hallowed halls of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) matriculation campus in Petaling Jaya.

Posters of the famous cartoon characters were plastered around campus with the caption, “Don’t forget to cover your aurah” (the physical parts of the body that one should not expose according to Islamic teachings).

A friend of mine approvingly nodded at the posters, telling me that they created a light-hearted yet vital aura – a reminder of our religious obligations. Another friend, however, appeared slightly perturbed by the posters, muttering something about the conservative and patriarchal message it sent.

Then, how about this: have you ever received a family planning device (ahem…condom) during your university’s orientation week?

Well, I have.

It was during the “Fresher’s Week” at the University of Oxford (where I did my master’s degree).

In fact, a few such family planning devices were smilingly handed to me by seniors as I walked along the sacred halls of Oxford’s Examination Schools, the venue for clubs and societies to recruit new members at the start of the academic year. (Oh, I gave the hand-outs away).

A fellow freshie appeared to disapprove of these hand-outs, saying it was “an unwanted imposition of liberal ideology on the masses”. Another gleefully laughed it off, saying he was glad that Oxonions could keep themselves safe and prevent the spread of unwanted diseases.

Welcome, dear almost young adults, to university life.

Studying at both these higher institutions of learning – IIUM which started in 1983, and ye olde 1096 Oxford University – certainly enhanced, and at times challenged, my various worldviews at different junctures in my life.

Walking along the corridors of IIUM, it was common for fellow students to greet you with Assalamualaikum (Peace be Upon You) and to address you as “Brother” or “Sister” – both Muslims and non-Muslims. I had never experienced this before during my schooling years.

It always put a smile on my face. It was a beautiful culture and gesture.

Oxford, on the other hand, exuded an alluring academic calm although the city was always buzzing with events.

Libraries were everywhere – more than 100 around the city.

Academic activities were diverse and robust, with (almost) no topic too sensitive to discuss. People were friendly, but the culture seemed a bit more independent and impersonal compared to IIUM.

Oxford had wonderful traditions such as college dining, punting along the river Cherwell and (the occasionally tedious) wearing of the sub fusc (a formal academic gown) for examinations.

IIUM didn’t have such formal traditions but there were lots of activities we undergrads looked forward to.

An eye-opener annual event was the Ummatic Week celebrating the diversity and cultures of Muslims from over 125 countries worldwide.

No doubt, studying at IIUM and Oxford presented its own unique set of challenges. Often times, one would be thrown into the paradoxical “clash” of cultures and environment, much like the reminders of chastity with the Power Puff tudung or the reverse with the prophylactic family planning door-gifts.

There were varying notions of gender roles within a community, state and religion, as well as coming face-to-face with strange new bed-fellows in the hostel dormitory who would turn out to be your life-long buddies.

I recall my Kelantanese friends viewing me with bemusement because of my English-speaking leanings. Never, too, had I met so many Kelantanese in my life prior to that and in our bantering, we uncovered commonalities and respected differences.

So what did I learn from my alma maters in this journey from school student to undergrad to post-grad? Here are some shared thoughts for incoming freshies.

1. Stay Fresh – This is the formal foundation for the real world outside and beyond. Observe and learn. Do not see differences as a bad thing. Find out more, understand where the views are coming from and if you disagree, be kind in your disagreement. At the very least, the differences enrich your worldview.

2. Love Knowledge – The input from your varsity environment, formal and informal, in and out of your lecture rooms, both good and bad, is the first thirst quencher in the hunger for knowledge. And we all know, knowledge is power!

3. Choose your “Battles” – From centric to the eccentric, there will be ups and downs. And it’s not the downs, the problems, as much as “how” you handle the situation. In both IIUM and Oxford, my realisation was that one is assessed (yes, even judged) for and by what one does or doesn’t.

Hence, a pre-emptive thought-out response, not an initial gut reaction, is worth considering. It somewhat determines your maturity and reputation.

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. A local university can provide a comparable experience.

It’s about learning and truly seeing and churning these into a vision we see ourselves fitting into.

by Danial Rahman
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40 Unimas Medical Students To Receive Scholarship From State Government – Abang Johari

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

KUCHING, Sept 18 (Bernama) — The state government through the Sarawak Foundation will finance the education of 40 students pursuing medicine at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) beginning this year, says Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He said the decision was made to produce more doctors from the state as well as to reduce the ratio of doctors to patients in Sarawak, which was currently one doctor for every 822 patients.

Looking at the huge ratio, Abang Johari said the state government decided to award scholarships to qualified students, in line with the government’s focus on human capacity building.

“The 40 recipients today are the first batch to receive this scholarship involving an allocation of RM4 million a year, so for the duration of their five-year study, we will finance RM20 million.

“Next year, we will fund another 40 students, and we want to have more than 100 doctors (through government scholarship) within five years,” he said at the scholarship award ceremony at Wisma Bapa Malaysia, Petra Jaya here, today.


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Higher Education Ministry to address new challenges faced by tertiary studies

Saturday, September 2nd, 2017

(File pix) Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh. Pix by FARIZ ISWADI ISMAIL.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Higher Education Ministry will present ways to address new challenges faced by institutions of higher learning to the Cabinet by next month.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said the move was on grounds that university should be ready to produce graduates who met the requirements for new type of jobs.

“Conventional jobs as we know now are doctors, engineers, accountants and lawyers. But, there are now things like zumba instructors and cloud specialist.

“We have to be mindful that there are more jobs out there with the latest technology.

“We cannot be following the old style anymore,” he told a press conference after opening the Higher Education Industrial Seminar 4.0 today.

Idris said the “Higher Education 4.0 Framework” was being compiled to address such issues before tabling it to the cabinet.

“The basis of the framework is how technology will change our lives,” he said.

He said some existing jobs may no longer be relevant as new jobs entered the market, and that universities should be ready for this.

Challenging industry players, he said they should be clear of what they wanted from graduates.

He said the industry should explain properly the prerequisites they wanted from graduates, how many they wanted and the kind of curriculum they needed.

He said they should also determine whether the industries and universities were flexible to adapt with the transformation.

“I am challenging the industry now what kind of skill you need, I’ll get it done for you tomorrow,” he said.

At the same press conference, World Bank lead education specialist Francisco Marmolejo said it was encouraging to see Malaysia being one step ahead, adding that the framework’s narrative was not only needed for the future but today.

“We need higher education institutions to be much more flexible and ready to anticipate the future.

“By 2050, all the current knowledge will only represent one per cent of what students will have in front of them when they are exposed to the teaching and learning process,” he said.


You can shine in any varsity

Saturday, August 5th, 2017

UNIVERSITY rankings create interest every year. Favourable positions allow top universities and their alumni to have bragging rights over other institutions.

Personal ambition, ambitious parents, and the demands of society and industries have turned going to Oxford University and Cambridge University (Oxbridge), the Ivy League and the Russell Group (which represents 24 leading universities in the UK) as a must route for those who want to be given top priority by prestigious corporations in their recruitment drive.

Universities in these groups jostle for top positions in the league tables drawn by several agencies like QS, Times Higher Education, The Guardian and the US News and World Report.

They spell out the methodologies to justify their ranking of universities. With a tradition that has produced numerous Nobel Laureates, top scientists, world leaders, academics and top corporate figures; these universities without doubt have a lot to celebrate.

Their graduates would feel great because they were occupants of prestigious seats of learning envied by others.

Their alma mater would ensure that their degrees would be the keys to unlock the doors that refused to open to other graduates.

Their alumni annual dinners would be attended and patronised by the who’s who in society.

However, those from Oxbridge, Yale and Harvard are not the sole keepers of success. To those who failed to gain entry to the Ivy League or Oxbridge, do remember your universities are equally good in turning you into useful persons that society yearns for.

Don’t regret being where you are or were. Failure to gain entry into any of the top varsities, does not mean you are a failure. Your experiences at whichever university you went to, must have taught you a great deal.

My experience at the University of Greenwich in mid 1970s taught me several lessons. The 1970s were when many students and trades unions were controlled by those leaning towards socialism.

The idealism of socialism was at its height and capitalism was an offensive word at the varsity!

Students and workers then were protesting about anything and everything. They marched on the streets for whatever reason they could think of. Occasionally universities were occupied by students.

Margaret Thatcher s eventually became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and shook her fist to put an end to the strong powers of the students and the trade unions.

Greenwich was small and friendly, but had very high standards and great diversity not just in terms of its students’ backgrounds but in terms of experience.

I made friends who came from different towns in the UK and from different countries almost immediately upon enrolment.

The parochialism in me disappeared slowly and my outlook towards society began to change.

Greenwich made me confident and adventurous and turned me into a liberal minded individual.

I spent my days doing all sorts of amazing things on my own and through membership of different societies. It was a true educational experience outside academic work.

I’d spent whatever free time I could have with trips to other cities in the UK and would stay with those I had befriended.

It was an experience I would never forget. Of course I took the opportunity to travel to Europe.

The course I pursued demanded that I read about great writers or thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle, Montesquieu, Descartes, Rousseau, Dickens,Francis Scott Fitzgerald, Rabindranath Tagore and Orwell.

I would attend any talk that would be of interest and related to my studies.

Prominent speakers from the Conser-vative, the Labour and the Liberal parties would come to defend their ideal thinking despite being intimidated by the audience.

I found many at Greenwich to be very egalitarian. I acquired the ability to think independently, access and interpret information, rebut but respect other people’s points of view – all characteristics that I have carried with me throughout my life later as an academic.

I was in its hockey team. It was was an honour playing for my university. A formal picture of my team mates and I used to hang proudly at my workplace to show my colleagues and students that varsity life was not all about studying.

Involvement in sporting activities really was effective in my preparation for life after college.

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iCGPA in full force by 2019

Friday, July 21st, 2017
Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh during the Integrated Cumulative Grade Point Average International Conference. (Photo by SHIRAZ YASMINE ALI)

ALL public universities will be implementing the integrated cumulative grade point average (iCGPA) assessment in all faculties, alongside the existing academic-driven CGPA system, in 2019.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said that it is important that this is done as it is imperative today to groom students to become holistic graduates in accordance with the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“iCGPA is important as the way to evaluate students needs to change. It is already being implemented at the Ministry of Education through the change of curriculum to include critical thinking skills and also at the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) under Shift 1 of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (Higher Education). Our professors have acknowledged this issue as far as eight years back, with assessment methodology development taking place since 2011,” he said.

Idris said the aim of iCGPA is to produce graduates who not only excel in their fields of study (academically), but are also equipped with the necessary soft skills (such as English proficiency), knowledge (of the world at large, the sciences and arts), values (ethics, patriotism, and spirituality), leadership abilities (including the love of volunteerism), and the ability to think critically (accepting diverse views, innovation and problem solving).

MOHE started to pilot iCGPA at five faculties in five public universities — Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT), Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK) and Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP) — in September 2015.

“Today the implementation has progressed to 334 programmes at 153 faculties in 20 public universities; 35 programmes at six polytechnics, and seven programmes in 15 community colleges,” he said.

“Now even private universities are approaching MOHE to learn about iCGPA and ways to implement it,” he added.

Idris said the good thing about iCGPA is that it does not touch the CGPA system but instead adds value to what exists.

“Normal student assessment is done after they have finished the teaching-learning process. But the integrated assessment is done before, during and after the process to check on students’ soft skills. This way benchmarking and corrective measures can be carried out during the whole process of learning,” he said.

Earlier, Idris delivered a keynote address titled “A journey towards holistic assessment, in pursuit of holistic graduates”, at the iCGPA International Conference 2017.

In his speech, he touched on the benefits that can be gained from iCGPA assessment by different parties.

“For students, they can have a better understanding of their personal strengths and weaknesses as well as have continuous improvement of themselves from that knowledge. For prospective employers, the iCGPA can enable them to identify future employees based on skills and more holistic measurements and understand the continuous professional development needs of new graduates. As for higher education institutions and lecturers, they would have a better appreciation of student needs and can provide continuous intervention and support,” he said.

He listed down challenges ahead for iCGPA implementation among which are adoption by academics and industry recognition.

“Academics need to review the curriculum to come up with one that would shape students into holistic graduates. Are they conducting effective activities to facilitate this? Is the curriculum adapted to industry needs? And universities would also need to assess the assessor,” he commented.

Idris later officiated the opening of the two-day conference.

Themed “Nurturing Holistic, Entrepreneurial and Balanced Graduates”, the iCGPA International Conference 2017 served as a platform for educators, industrial leaders, professionals and students to discuss on professional development and sharing of best practices and opportunities on outcomes-based education.


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Four Malaysian Research Varsities Under 50 Years Within Group Of 23 Top World Varsities – Idris

Saturday, July 15th, 2017

SERDANG, July 13 (Bernama) — Four public varsities with the status of national research universities below 50 years old are now listed within the 23 top universities in the world.

Based on the world rankings for the year 2017/2018 published by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) today, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) rose to 15th position from the 38th spot in 2016.

In addition, the ranking for Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) also moved from 32nd to the 16th spot, followed by Unversiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), moving to the 21st and 23rd spots respectively from the 30th and 26th previously.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said that for universities below 50 years old, the latest achievements or positions of the institutions proved that the efforts of the ministry and the universities in stimulating the research culture had begun to show positive results.

“For UPM, the rise of 23 steps is certainly very encouraging for the university as well as the ministry,” he told a media conference after launching the Sports Leadership Transformation Program organised by the UPM Sports Academy and Sports Warrior Global (SWG) at the UPM Sports Centre’s Multipurpose Hall, here today.

QS is the world’s first university ratings agency recognised by the International Ranking Expert Group and has become the reference for interested parties worldwide.

Also present at the event were UPM Vice-Chancellor Prof Datin Dr Aini Ideris, national squash queen Datuk Nicol David and Sports Warrior Global director Sharon Wee who was also a former national squash player.


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Good ratings for seven Malaysian varsities

Saturday, July 8th, 2017

PETALING JAYA: Seven Malaysian universities are in Times Higher Education’s (THE) inaugural Asia-Pacific University Rankings.

Of these, five are in the top 200 with Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) and Univer­siti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) joint top for Malaysia.

Both UPM and UTM are in the joint 121-130 band.

The other institutions listed in the rankings are Universiti Teknologi Petronas, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi Mara and Universiti Utara Malaysia (see table).

THE rankings editor Phil Baty (pic) said Malaysian universities generally performed well in their international outlook, but achieved low scores for research impact (citations).

“While the country is building its research capacity, it will need to improve the quality of research if it wants to improve its standing in this ranking in future years,” he said in a press statement.

The National University of Singapore claims the top spot followed by Peking Univer­sity, the University of Melbourne, Tsinghua University and Nanyang Technological Univer­sity in second, third, fourth and fifth places respectively.

“The Asia-Pacific is considered one of the most important higher education and research regions in the world and this ranking proves what a diverse and dynamic part of the world it is,” said Baty.

He said Indonesia and Malaysia are two emerging players that are shown to have great potential, if they can improve the quantity and quality of research in the same vein as some of their neighbours.

“Overall, the ranking provides a picture of the countries and universities that are set to become world-leading higher education players over the coming years.

“There is no doubt that several of these will be within the Asia-Pacific,” he added.

The Asia-Pacific University Rankings use the same 13 carefully calibrated performance indicators to provide the most comprehensive and balanced comparisons, trusted by students, academics, university leaders, industry and governments as the THE World University Rankings.

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Kamarudin appointed UMS vice-chancellor

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: Prof Dr D. Kamarudin D. Mudin will take over as the vice-chancellor of Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) from June 18.

Kamaruddin, the university’s deputy vice-chancellor (Academic and International) will become its fifth vice-chancellor, succeeding Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Harun Abdullah whose term expires on June 17.

The appointment will make Dr Kamarudin, 49, the third Sabahan to hold the post after Prof Datuk Dr Kamaruzaman Ampon and Mohd Harun.

Dr Kamarudin is Professor Special Grade C (Medical) with expertise in the field of anaesthesiology. He served as dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences before being appointed as deputy vice-chancellor in April 2015.


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Benchmarking universities

Thursday, June 15th, 2017
Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh (second from right) sharing a light moment with (from left) Professor Datuk Dr Asma Ismail, Professor Datuk Dr Wahid Omar, Professor Datuk Seri Dr Noor Azlan Ghazali, Professor Datin Paduka Dr Aini Ideris and Professor Dr Awang Bulgiba Awang Mahmud. Looking on are Higher Education Deputy Minister Datuk Dr Mary Yap Kain Ching and Higher Education Ministry secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Noorul Ainur Mohd Nur. PIC BY MOHD FADLI HAMZAH
By ROZANA SANI - June 14, 2017 @ 2:23pm

STRENGTHENING fundamentals in teaching and learning as well as a keen focus on being more visible in the academic and industry circles are the key enabling factors for Malaysia’s five research universities to be placed in the top one per cent of the recently announced Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings 2017/2018.

The strategy clearly paid off for University of Malaya (UM), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) which are all in the top 300 band of the global ranking system involving 26,000 universities across the globe — with UM leading the pack at 114th position.

According to Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, the achievement of the five universities is proof that the decision of establishing research universities 10 years ago to improve higher education through research, publication, citation and innovation has paid off.

“These continuous improvements in the rankings among the research universities is spurring and mentoring the whole higher education ecosystem into a more dynamic one. We will continue to encourage more collaborations and sharing of facilities and research as well as improve the students and lecturers’ mobility. Emphasis on translational research at universities is also benefiting the community at large and the nation,” he said at a press briefing in Putrajaya last week.

UM which have steadily risen year on year in its ranking from 167 in 2013 is now so close to being in the top 100 in the QS World University Rankings.

The university is ranked top in the nation for four indicators of the world rankings which are academic reputation, employer reputation, student to faculty ratio and citations per faculty.

Professor Awang Bulgiba Awang Mahmud, UM’s acting vice-chancellor, attributed the university’s current position to the success in the execution of UM’s strategic plan. The plan with the purpose of driving the university forward delivered positive impacts.

“We have been making certain changes to our strategic plan, one of which is tweaking our internationalisation efforts to be more focused and evidence driven so that we can best spend our resources,” he shared.

An example of this is making use of a network set up in UM last year focused on Disability and Public Policy under the auspices of the Asean University Network (AUN). AUN is a small network of 30 universities — top universities within the 10 countries in theAsean region.

“We can invite universities outside the AUN to join too because it is a thematic network. It is being funded by the Nippon Foundation for the first three years with support of US$600,000 per year. They have promised to further their support if we do well,” he said.

A few years ago, UM also offered to be the secretariat for the Asia-Pacific Academic Consortium for Public Health instantly making it the hub for 100 other universities. “Through efforts like this people then will get to know you and you gain visibility,” said Awang Bulgiba.

He said UM has 600 memoranda of understanding signed with universities around the world. “In truth, with the MOUs we collaborate with universities four times that number. Many are bottom up, not top down, with research proposals and activities from our researchers. This is a more sustainable model for the university and good for the long run,” he said.

The number of citations have also improved considerably for UM because of the collaborations. “International collaborations bring about greater citations,” said Awang Bulgiba. “In terms of publication, two years ago we were above the world average in terms of quality in about 14 categories as listed by Scorpus — the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature: scientific journals, books and conference proceedings. This year we went up to 18. We hope to cover all categories in the list by 2020.”

UPM which climbed 182 places from 411 in 2013/2014 to the current 229 in the QS World University Rankings 2017/2018 is delighted that it is inching closer and might even reach its target of being in the top 200 earlier than 2020.

“We have surpassed our targets so far. If we jump 30 steps next year, we will be within our target earlier by two years,” said UPM vice-chancellor Professor Datin Paduka Dr Aini Ideris.

She said UPM will again analyse the achievements and weaknesses it has made and see what it can do better and work harder especially in the area of citations.

“We strove as hard as we can on making fundamentals like teaching and learning solid. Our entire community ensures together this happens. Our visibility was not so clear before. So last year we concentrated on visibility through networking and participation in academic events and there is a rise in that area.

We have improved in the faculty and student ratio, academic and employer reputation. We have worked closely with the industry to bring them into campus, arrange attachments for students in selected good companies and we get good feedback from employers on our students,” she said.

UKM which saw the best improvement in rankings — moving up 72 places from 302 to 230 — with effort being placed on visibility and recognition.

“Our focus is clear — we are a university built on the aspiration of Malaysians at large. Our goal is to be a university that is referred to, relevant and respected. Ranking comes along the way. We don’t chase ranking as we want our academia to do the right thing academically. We want to impact society with our scholarly achievement. Our work touches all our stakeholders and we have UKM presence in terms of initiatives and projects in every State throughout the country,” said its vice-chancellor, Professor Datuk Seri Dr Noor Azlan Ghazali.


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