Archive for the ‘Colleges / Universities - Issues’ Category

M’sia has most students in international schools in SEA.

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia tops the charts in South-East Asia when it comes to the number of students enrolled in premium, English-medium international schools, according to the latest report published by ISC Research.

As of the first quarter of this year, Malaysia has 71,589 students en­­rolled in various international schools in the country.

This is followed by Thailand with 64,928 students and Singapore with 63,789.

Indonesia and Vietnam complete the top five with 57,402 and 40,003 students respectively.

Student enrolment in international schools has gone up by 33.9% over the last four years across the re­­gion. The data was released by ISC, the leading authority on market intelligence on international schools, a­head of the forthcoming Interna­tional Private Schools Education Forum (Ipsef) conference from March 22-24.

In terms of the number of international schools, Indonesia is tops among South-East Asian countries with 190 premium, English-medium international schools, followed by Thailand (181) and Malaysia (170).

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Lim Kok Wing gets honoured for his contribution to education and society.

Monday, February 20th, 2017
Proud moment: Tiffanee (in blue) accepting the award on behalf of her father while International Emirates Business Group founder and president Badria Al Mulla (second from right) and others look on.

Proud moment: Tiffanee (in blue) accepting the award on behalf of her father while International Emirates Business Group founder and president Badria Al Mulla (second from right) and others look on.

LONDON: Tan Sri Lim Kok Wing has been honoured with two awards – the Global Icon for Innovation and Global Leadership for Peace and Equality – for his contributions to education and society.

The Limkokwing University of Creative Technology founder and president received the awards at the Seventh Middle East Business Leaders Awards 2016.

Lim’s daughter, Limkokwing University of Creative Technology vice-president, Brand, Creativity and Talent Development Datuk Tiffanee Marie Lim and its vice-chancellor Prof Cedric Bell received the awards on his behalf at the event at InterContinental London on Friday night.

“I am honoured and humbled by the awards and am proud of my father’s achievement,” said Tiffanee at the event.

Malaysian High Commissioner to Britain Datuk Ahmad Rasidi Hazizi said the recognition had made the country proud.

“This shows foreign nations that Malaysia has developed in various fields.

“I am sure our young Malaysian leaders will continue to receive recognition in the future,” said Ahmad Rasidi.

Event organiser International Leaders chief executive officer Shahul Hameed Shaik Dawood said the award was a recognition to leaders in various industries who had helped propel their country’s economy in a global setting.

“This year, Malaysia won more awards than ever before.

“This shows that the business management approach among local entrepreneurs and industry players is successful and should be followed,” said Sharul.

“I’m sure leaders today are faced with many challenges, particularly changes in global politics, economy and community development.

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Reinventing varsities for sustainability

Sunday, February 19th, 2017

IT is now common knowledge that the higher education sector is facing challenging times ahead.

All universities in the country are telling the same story of difficulties in managing the higher education business. The traditional university education is becoming less popular.

For the private universities, there are already signs of declining student numbers, with a growing number of students exploring other options to prepare them for the professions of their choice.

On the other hand, public universities are crying because of the drastic cuts in the funding from the government. With little experience in generating income, most are at a loss on how to cope with this constraint.

Many have chosen the easy way out, which is trimming the workforce. Many have terminated the services of lecturers in order to cut costs, with even experienced professors not spared from the exercise. Already, many fear the long-term impact of such measures, which may prove retrogressive for the nation.

Despite the difficulties, many are unanimous that education is an important investment. It is through education that future leaders are trained and developed. There is ample evidence to show that countries that invest wisely in education stand a better chance of making better headway in business, technology development and innovation.

Like it or not, higher education is the stage which prepares and provides the final touches to the students as they take that initial plunge into industry and society.

Varsities must produce graduates trained not only with the right skills but also with the right mindset to productively contribute to society.

It will be damaging for the country if the quality of graduates does not meet the expectations of industry and society. This is the reason why the curriculum and courses designed must take into account the many factors that are important to major stakeholders.

The big question before us now is: are our varsities catering to those very requirements that would enhance the nation’s competitiveness and bring progress to the society at large?

There are mixed answers to such a question. There are those who believe that we are doing well with our higher education. Indeed, we are producing talents needed by industry. In fact, they are saying that many of our engineering graduates enjoy big demand in the Middle East and elsewhere.

The impact factor of our researchers has also been soaring upwards, as maintained by the ministry.

However, there are those who disagree. Industry captains frequently complain about our graduates not fully meeting their criteria of exemplary talent. They say most are poor in their communication skills and other interpersonal attributes. Apparently, graduates from the private universities fare better compared to their public university counterparts.

In a globalised world rife with competition, most people agree that innovation strength is a key factor if a nation is to rise above the competition. This is where universities can sow the seeds through their R&D activities.

However, innovation can only be felt by society if the R&D findings are effectively shared with the public. Unfortunately, most of the R&D tend to aim only for publication in Tier One peer reviewed journals, as that is the KPI for academics here.

The sad part of it is that such journals have a very limited readership, with only those in the same discipline reading them. The findings do not effectively reach out to those who matter, such as the policy makers, businesses, and society at large.

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Check courses with MQA.

Monday, February 6th, 2017

POTENTIAL students need to make sure courses they are interested in pursuing are accredited before signing up at any higher education institution.

Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) chief executive officer Prof Datuk Dr Rujhan Mustafa said students and parents must refer to the Malaysian Qualifications Register (MQR) to ensure the programme and higher education institution have been accredited by the government.

“The public must know that they should only sign up for courses that have received MQA accreditation,” he told reporters after delivering his 2017 Aspirations speech recently.

He stressed that it is not enough to just believe what the institution claims, but to always check and ensure the course is accredited.

The public can access MQR via MQA’s website at which lists both courses that have received full accreditation and partial accreditation.

He said that there are currently more than 11,300 programmes accredited by the agency.

Prof Rujhan also asked the public to be the eyes and ears of the agency and report if they suspect something is amiss or they are facing problems with their course.

He added that they can either send their complaints online or visit their office.

Starting this year, he said higher education institutions will be accredited based on their performance, track record and financial performance.

He added that this was to ensure students get what they have invested in their tertiary studies.

On another matter, Prof Rujhan said that MQA will take over accrediting foreign institutions’ qualifications and courses.

“This will be done by both MQA and other professional bodies,” he said, adding that all local and foreign study courses that have been accredited will mean that they are officially recognised by the Malaysian government.

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Fake PhDs: Applicants Told To Verify With Relevant Authorities First

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

News Pic

Datin Paduka Dr Siti Hamisah Tapsir (Bernama file pic)

KUALA NERUS, Feb 1 (Bernama) — Individuals who wish to apply for academic programmes at the tertiary level are urged to check with the relevant authorities first to avoid being cheated by certain quarters offering fake papers.

Higher Education director-general Datin Paduka Dr Siti Hamisah Tapsir said this was because the public was now exposed to fake offers by irresponsible quarters in obtaining such papers in a quick and easy way.

“In Malaysia, they can check with the Higher Education Department or the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA)…If it involves overseas-based institutions of higher learning, the best way is to contact the authorities in that particular country,” she said.

Siti Hamisah was speaking to reporters after officiating the 2017 International Conference on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (ICTLHE) at Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) near here today.

Also present were UMT vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Nor Aieni Mokhtar, Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin deputy vice-chancellor (Academic and International) Prof Dr Mahadzirah Mohamad and Open Learning Global Pte Ltd chief executive officer Adam Brimo.


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Keeping Malaysian Higher Education Quality At Its Best

Monday, January 16th, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) — Malaysia is increasingly seen as an education hub and the preferred choice for foreign students in seeking tertiary education from certificate up to doctorate level.

Up until October 2016, the Malaysian Qualification Agency (MQA) has awarded full or provisional accreditation for 1,307 academic programmes all over the country.

MQA’s accreditation ensures students are not shortchanged in getting an education of quality.

Based on data obtained from Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE), as at November 2016, there are 496 private colleges and universities all over Malaysia offering a number of academic programmes.

Many of those programmes offered are lawfully pre-approved to be taught here and the institutions are certified prior to running the offered programmes.

MOHE Established-MQA

Established on Nov 1, 2007, under MQA Act 2007, MQA was once known as National Accreditation Board or best recognised as Lembaga Akreditasi Negara, its acronym LAN in Malay.

It is the only qualification enforcement body for all higher education programmes in Malaysia. MQA keeps in check the quality of the programmes offered by both public and private higher education institutions as well as to produce excellence graduates to meet the needs for a skilled workforce.

The change of name from LAN to MQA further enforced its responsibility as the benchmark setter of education in the country.

As the agency developed, MQA introduced the Malaysian Qualifications Framework (MQF) as a basis for quality assurance of higher education that acts as the point of reference for adhering to standards of national qualifications.

Previously before changing its name to MQA from LAN, the eight-level MQF qualifications was not implemented. The agency implemented MQF as a systematic mechanism that categorised qualifications based on learning outcomes, credit hours and student learning time.

Generically, this framework was developed to standardise all Malaysian academic qualifications and to facilitate the recognition of qualifications while help to maintain the Malaysian Qualifications Register (MQR).

MQR acts as a registrar for all accredited qualifications and programmes.

MQA & its Significance to Education Status.

For Malaysia, the establishment of MQA signify a stronger growth development in the academic and professional tertiary programmes.

By adhering and implementing quality control measures in academic and professional programmes offered by higher education institutions (HEI) in Malaysia, it establishes the benchmark for Malaysian higher education quality and system.

MQA, as the only national higher education quality assurance authority, has been one of the pillars in making Malaysia as the education hub in Asia.

It pledges to stand by its mission and vision to be a credible agency and internationally recognised HEI quality assurance body that will instil stakeholders’ confidence through its best practices.

The importance of MQA Accreditation,

With the so many programmes being offered throughout the year, there have been education providers offering programmes that has no accreditation from MQA.

In some cases, there are also programmes offered prior to getting the compulsory accreditation from the ministry.

by Wan Asmanizan Wan Ahmad Najib.

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Call for biometric system to screen students

Sunday, January 15th, 2017
There must be intensive checks to ensure only genuine students are granted visas, says Lee.

There must be intensive checks to ensure only genuine students are granted visas, says Lee.

WITH the growing number of foreign students in the country, Malaysia has become a popular destination for international students pursuing tertiary education.

The authorities must ensure that all students comply with student visa rules from the beginning. Failure to do so could mean that they are a threat to national security.

The threat could be worse if the students are involved in high profile crimes, such as drug trafficking and firearms smuggling.

What is even more worrying is their involvement in the spread of Daesh (a term used in most Arab states to refer to the Islamic State or ISIS) militant activities to local communities, especially youth.

Last month, police detained seven people believed to be involved in terrorist activities in several locations. Two of the foreigners involved were students from a private college in Selangor.

The government has taken various initiatives to deal with the issue, including the Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS) system to track down the activities of international students while they are in the country.

However, this system will not succeed if private colleges are focused on merely making profits. Some are even willing to falsify documents on student enrolment.

Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said the government must come up with improvements on the EMGS by incorporating a biometric attendance system for university students.

He said that the Pepatih MySekolah aplication, an innovative monitoring system for students which was adopted in some schools in Kuala Lumpur and Malacca, may prove to be useful in keeping tabs on the activities of foreign students.

He explained that the technology was far more advanced and currently used by parents to monitor their children.

All they had to do was to download the application to their smartphones to check on their children and their attendance at school, Lee added.

“By using the same biometric technology, the authorities will be able to monitor activities involving foreign students, who may be a threat to the country,” he said.

Lee said the system should be implemented in all institutions of higher learning especially those that register international students.

“Most international students are here for an objective – to study and earn a degree.”

“But there are some who come into the country with devious intentions.

“It is for such ‘students’ that we need to take precationary measures as they can threaten our national security,” he added.

Lee’s views were shared by Islamic Studies and Political Science lecturer at the International Islamic University Malaysia, Dr Ahmad El Muhammady. He said the implementation of the system would help single out suspicious students.

“We are not only facing internal security threats, but also external threats (from overseas) … if they can infiltrate our national security on a student’s ticket, this means they are able to breach into our security system.

“For now, the students may only be involved in commercial and narcotic crimes. But it is also possible for them to spread Daesh propaganda by influencing the local communities especially youth,” Dr Ahmad said.



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Paying more to learn

Sunday, January 15th, 2017

EDUCATION has changed, says former secretary-general of the National Union of the Teaching Profession Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam.

In the past, parents and their children felt that the only way to get a good education was via public varsities; today, they see private institutions as the only path to a bright future.

The educationist believes that most parents are willing to pay even if it means selling off their property and wiping out their savings because private institutions are better managed financially, and they insist on meritocracy.

The future, he says, is competitive, so parents – even middle income ones – will make sure that their children get quality education, proper learning facilities and experienced academic staff.

“Many feel like the only way to get a good education is to go to a private institution because they’ll only invest in the best facilities, equipment and talents. Hiring in private varsities is based on merit so parents know that they’re paying for the best educators to teach their children,” says the 2011 Tokoh Guru recipient.

But education, he feels, isn’t just about facilities and lecturers. It’s about an entire ecosystem.

“Private sector employers only want the best. Malaysian parents want their children to have opportunities abroad. In private learning institutions, there’s stiff competition. Students are fighting to be among the best so they learn from their peers. Parents want their kids to be challenged by their peers and they don’t mind paying for this experience.”

Parents and students today are more well-versed about education issues and job opportunities available compared to previous generations.

“Parents looking to send their child for tertiary education only have two questions: Will my child be employable? Will a degree from this university open doors?

“Cost is secondary because a good education is about ensuring survival. Parents want to give their child an education that will be valuable for life,” he says, relating how a friend had mortgaged the family home to fund their child’s medical studies in Britain.

Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan agrees.

It’s not that bosses prefer one group of graduates over another. Hiring boils down to what’s required. Graduates from private institutions are more employable because they meet private sector demands better and have the right qualities.

“This is especially true when it comes to their ability to communicate in English. They’re more expressive because that’s how they were trained.”

Citing an example, he shares how the delivery of lectures in private institutions are more flexible and students have access to private sector practitioners who come and share their experiences. While such is also expected of public varsities, the reality is that it doesn’t happen very much.

On Jan 8, Sunday Star ran an exclusive report on how budget cuts in public universities have hit even the country’s premier higher institution of education, with the 111-year-old Universiti Malaya letting go of experienced academic staff, thus jeopardising its standards. The slashing of government funds has also led to the neglect of facilities, posing a risk to students and staff.

The budget slash, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh had explained, was in line with the ministry’s planning since 2007. Public expenditure on higher education had tripled in just over a decade and universities have grown too dependent on public funding. Malaysia was one of the biggest spenders on higher education, yet its performance was still less than ideal, he had shared.

Education is the most important investment any country can make because it’s to build skills and competencies that can be used by generations to come. It’s as important as building dams and highways, Taylor’s College president Craig Sherrin feels.

“Education is like a two-way investment: The government invests in the future of the country, and the individual invests in himself,” he says.

Under Budget 2017, the funding for public universities were slashed by up to 42% compared to 2015.

Among the worst-hit are Universiti Teknologi MARA (36.16%), Universiti Malaya (42%), Universiti Sains Malaysia (40%), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (42%), and Universiti Putra Malaysia (38%).

Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation vice-president of operations Gurpardeep Singh reckons that the cuts are in line with current international trends.

Many public universities worldwide have been asked to find alternative sources of income to increase self-proficiency, he shares.

While the funding cuts have taken many by surprise, Gurpardeep says local universities should have been prepared as it started with corporatisation, which began a few years ago.

Corporatisation was introduced to reduce dependence on government funding. This is to make them more competitive, efficient, and sustainable, without losing their objective, he says.

An optimist, Gurpardeep doesn’t think the budget cuts will affect the quality of education in our public universities or demand for places there.

“Places like Universiti Malaya are an establishment. Their facilities are already in place so there shouldn’t be much change in the way the students are taught. And the demand for places will still be there because the fees are subsidised,” he says.

Siva Subramaniam feels that the slash in funding isn’t why public varsities are missing the mark. The rot, he thinks, stems from poor fund management. Instead of quality and meritocracy, focus has been on quantity. The result is that graduating from public varsities like Universiti Malaya and Universiti Sains Malaysia does not carry the same prestige as 50 years ago when it was difficult to get in, and graduate.


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    Our universities need more autonomy

    Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

    For higher education in Malaysia to soar, there has to be freedom to pursue knowledge. And that is tied to how the institutions are funded.

    THE quality of our universities has always been a subject of much debate. Everyone wants to see our universities improve, but we keep hearing complaints year after year.

    There has long been this desire to see our higher education institutions soaring higher. For example, back in 2005, the Government set up a high-level committee chaired by Tan Sri Dr Wan Mohd Zahid Mohd Noordin, the former Education director-general, to look into the issue.

    The Wan Zahid Report is a big document, with more than 300 pages containing 138 proposals on how to improve our higher education institutions. The report was not just discussed in Cabinet but was also tabled in Parliament.

    Today, many of the report’s ideas have been absorbed into the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2015 -2025 (Higher Education), even though not in totality.

    Both the Wan Zahid Report and the Blueprint stress that autonomy is important for our universities to succeed and flourish. It seems our policymakers have always realised that universities need the freedom to decide their own future.

    Yet, we have not been able to find the right formula for allowing such autonomy.

    I struggle to understand why this is the case if the policymakers are serious about wanting our universities to excel. If autonomy is believed to be a key factor, then why not just set the universities free?

    In contrast, take for example the Baitul Hikmah in Baghdad during the golden age of Islam several centuries ago. Here we see an early uni­­ver­­sity that enjoyed and benefited from autonomy.

    There are several key takeaways from this era of passionate exploration of knowledge and the free pursuit of intellectual curiosity.

    First, knowledge was pursued without boundaries. There were no restrictions on what could be explored, whether it was science, mathematics, religion, philosophy, astronomy or the humanities.

    It was an era where knowledge was valued on its own merit, not selectively pursued for the sake of economic gain or for employability.

    This freedom of inquiry drew scholars and intellectuals from all over the world and all walks of life to the Baitul Hikmah. They were free to explore fields they were interested in, and had individual freedom to pursue knowledge for the sake of becoming knowledgeable.

    Second, the act of pursuing knowledge for the sake of knowledge was respected by society. The public, merchants and people rich and poor contributed funds to support those pursuing knowledge, without dictating what the funds could be used for. The scholars were not measured by how many journal articles they published. Yet, until today their names are known to us and they are still quoted.

    Let’s be clear. These scholars did need money to live and some of them lived a decent life. Financial support was given to enable them to pursue knowledge. To explore the unknown. To find the “truth”. Not to achieve arbitrary targets set by bureaucrats who are not scholars themselves.


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    Sultan Nazrin urges varsities to change with the times

    Sunday, November 20th, 2016
    Important day: Sultan Nazrin during the convocation ceremony of Universiti Sultan Azlan Shah at Dewan Jubli Perak. Attending the event are Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir (right) and vice-chancellor Prof Tan Sri Dr Nordin Kardi (second from right). — Bernama

    Important day: Sultan Nazrin during the convocation ceremony of Universiti Sultan Azlan Shah at Dewan Jubli Perak. Attending the event are Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir (right) and vice-chancellor Prof Tan Sri Dr Nordin Kardi (second from right). — Bernama

    KUALA KANGSAR: Universities must shape their students to become more resilient and progressive in a world that is seeing rapid technological advances, Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah said.

    Noting that these technological changes could create new jobs and at the same time end existing careers, he said it was impossible for universities to prepare their students for the world of work if they themselves did not clearly understand job patterns of the future.

    “With teaching and learning having undergone tremendous changes due to digitisation, employers and universities should collaborate.

    “Employers are to determine the skills required while universities expand their curriculum accordingly,” said Sultan Nazrin yesterday during the ninth convocation ceremony of Universiti Sultan Azlan Shah (USAS) here of which he is the chancellor.

    To create a generation of students with the ability to think digitally, the Perak Ruler said universities must adapt to the changes taking place.

    “Universities need to embark on a paradigm shift from being a lone institution to being an active and important participant in the digital ecosystem,” he said.

    Sultan Nazrin went on to say that overco­ming internal bureaucracy was vital in the process of innovating and adapting.

    “Only then will a university be able to keep up with the changes in the community, go­vern­ment and manufacturing sector,” he said.

    A total of 493 diploma students pursuing 13 different courses received their scrolls from Sultan Nazrin during the ceremony held at the Dewan Jubli Perak here.

    by CHAN LI LEEN.

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