Archive for the ‘Colleges / Universities - Issues’ Category

Making the switch to online learning

Friday, March 27th, 2020
Universiti Malaysia Pahang’s Faculty of Industrial Management head of programme (entrepreneurship) Dr Diyana Kamaruddin Research Methodology conducting a Zoom session with students.
Universiti Malaysia Pahang’s Faculty of Industrial Management head of programme (entrepreneurship) Dr Diyana Kamaruddin Research Methodology conducting a Zoom session with students.

Alternative teaching and learning methods are being put in place by universities to ensure continuity in academic activities should there be a prolonged interruption to the current semester due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

For institutions that have adopted the blended learning approach, a style of education in which students learn via electronic and online media alongside traditional face-to-face teaching, this means fine-tuning and extending the electronic and online elements more extensively and at a bigger scale.

Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), for example, had all courses accessible online on its learning management system, e-Learn@USM, to complement the face-to-face class.

But now, with the pandemic, the system has become the main platform to conduct courses fully online.

Professor Abd Karim AliasProfessor Abd Karim Alias

USM Centre for Development of Academic Excellence director Professor Abd Karim Alias said students could access learning resources, such as PowerPoint presentation, notes and recorded videos. To substitute face-to-face classes, a video conferencing application, Webex, is used to conduct live online sessions.

“Student engagement is the challenging part of online learning. We encourage lecturers to create interactive learning activities using applications to enhance and promote student engagement,” he said.

“As for assessments, many applications are available to help lecturers create different types of formative assessments (continuous assessments). A teacher has to adopt the mind set of being a learning designer to design an immersive learning experience for online courses.”

Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) School of Education and Modern Languages dean Associate Professor Fauziah Abdul Rahim said whether face-to-face, blended or full online delivery, the key is for learning to take place.

This involves focusing on the learning outcomes set for the course, and thinking of possible exciting activities that might activate learning to take place so that one can assess whether the outcomes were met, she said.

“In view of the current situation where there is a need to change to online mode in the middle of the semester, the most feasible way is to design topics based on the learning outcomes in a modular-based manner. A modular-based approach is done so that students can receive the information earlier, prepare the activities required offline and have discussions online whenever needed,” Fauziah said.

At the Faculty of Communication, Arts and Media (FCAM) of the International University of Malaya-Wales, where online tools have been used in the teaching-learning process, the prospect of running fully online compelled lecturers to look at using digital educational platforms to up their game with more engaging online teaching content and ensure contact with students continues to be healthy.

“In fact, I foresee that it will only increase student participation and interactivity with lecturers,” said faculty head Dr Nurul Nisa Omar.

As an example, one of the assessments for the Event Management and Communication Campaign module was for students to run a digital campaign.

“In April, FCAM is going to launch 21 digital campaigns that will cover lifestyle (chill and lighter contents), society issues (more serious contents) and digital education (running an online class),” she said.

“All FCAM lecturers will take part in these campaigns and they will monitor the students in executing it. It is almost like the lecturers are really there.” she said.

Two-way interaction and retaining student attention was Dr Diyana Kamaruddin’s strategy for the full online teaching-learning mode.

Diyana, the head of programme (entrepreneurship) at Universiti Malaysia Pahang’s Faculty of Industrial Management, had been using Zoom for her online courses in the university’s blended learning initiatives.

“This method is similar to Skype, but it has a lot of fun features, like screen sharing, background changes, breakout rooms and many more. The cool thing about this feature is that I can control how many students go into each room, I can randomly mix students or pick students to enter the rooms/group, and I can also ‘pop’ in and out of each room to listen in on their discussions,” she said.

Diyana had also used Zoom when overseas, hosting guest speakers from overseas and conducting night replacement classes.

“I intend to mix my instruction methods with Kalam which is the university’s e-learning platform, where I can integrate forums, quizzes, assignments and other instructions there. I can also upload videos and have students discuss the content of the videos in the forums,” she said, adding that it would cover the whole aspect of teaching and learning.

Dr Amiza Amir, a senior lecturer at Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP) School of Computer and Communication Engineering, uses three applications when teaching Introduction to Data Analytics for Computer Engineering and Computer Network Engineering.

These are WhatsApp group chats for direct communication with students, Google Meet for online lecture and UniMAP’s eLearning Lab to upload all lecture notes, references, and exercises.

“The students submit their assignments to this portal. Everything is in digital format, and it is very convenient for me to mark their assignments and check their homework at any time and anywhere,” she said.

What will be added on for the full online teaching-learning experience is the assessment portion, Amiza said.

“We are working to redesign our examination questions for online examinations. I believe that this is possible while ensuring the fulfillment of the requirement of the Engineering Accreditation Council.”

On challenges in implementing a full online teaching-learning experience, the consensus seems to be Internet connectivity and technical support for both lecturers and students.

“Yes, challenges abound — readiness, skills, Internet connectivity and devices, among others — but these should not be a stumbling block. Both students and lecturers should take the challenges in stride. It’s a great opportunity to embark on the wonderful world of online teaching and learning. Now or never,” said Karim.

By Rozana Sani.

Read more @

End the face-to-face meetings, go digital instead

Thursday, March 19th, 2020
This is the time to put the communications, social media and automation technologies in full-steam mode.
This is the time to put the communications, social media and automation technologies in full-steam mode.

THE Covid-19 outbreak has caused major disruptions. Numerous local, as well as international, events, meetings, exhibitions and tournaments were cancelled to prevent the virus from spreading. Some countries even implemented a total lockdown to flatten the curve.

Some international companies have opted for virtual events. Apple, Huawei, Snapchat, Google and Microsoft announced that their annual events would be done via live-streaming to minimise the virus outbreak.

Health professionals have said the spread of the virus can be slowed if we practise social distancing, by not going to public places and limiting movement. One of the best ways is to start working from home and temporarily stop schooling, maybe from two weeks to one month.

This is the time to put the communications, social media and automation technologies in full-steam mode. Everyone has a smartphone today and broadband coverage is more than adequate for group chats in WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, FaceTime, Skype and Google Classroom.

We’ve been using these apps to share thoughts and for chitchatting, and they work well. So it’s time the daily face-to-face morning meetings, afternoon reports and evening updates were replaced with online group meetings. This can easily be done because almost all these apps are available for free on all platforms.

For example, Telegram is fast, simple and free, and with it, you can send messages, photos, videos and files of any type (doc, zip, mp3, etc), as well as create groups for up to 200,000 people or channels for broadcasting to unlimited audiences. WhatsApp allows users to have group communications of up to 256 people and a video call of up to four people.

If you and your colleagues are on iOS, use Group FaceTime as it makes it easy to chat with many people simultaneously. There are also paid collaboration tools like Google G Suite, which comprises Gmail, Hangouts, Calendar, and Currents for communication; Drive for storage; and Docs, Sheets, Slides, Keep, Forms and Sites for productivity and collaboration.

Many organisations already have them for collaborating with colleagues at different locations. It’s time to use them to replace internal face-to-face meetings.

Besides the communication apps, there are also productivity apps, mostly free, that can help you with collaborative work, away from your desk; apps like Quip, Slack, Trello and Evernote. Quip creates living documents combining chat, documents, slides, and spreadsheets, making collaboration fast and easy. You can skip the endless emails, meetings and document versions.

The Slack app brings team communication and collaboration into one place, so you can get more work done, whether a large enterprise or a small business. It’s available on all platforms, so you can find and access your team and your work whether you’re at your desk or away.

The fact that these apps are available and people are already using them prove that they are reliable and can be used for work. This is also an opportunity for companies to prove that some work can be done online without staff having to come to the office.

However, for this measure to be implemented effectively, a change of mindset and discipline is a must as we are going to work away from our desk, and there needs to be one person that monitors or manages the group just like a manager in the office.

This challenging period is also a good time for telco companies to lend a hand by offering discounted rates for data so that people who work remotely will not be burdened with higher bills.

This is being done by carriers in the US, such as AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and T-Mobile. They offer unlimited data for all mobile plans for 60 days, waiving fees for going over data caps, etc. Productivity may be affected a bit because of this pandemic, but at least we can keep things going albeit not meeting each other literally.

It’s time for us to work together on a national scale. This may help reduce the spread of the virus and reduce the challenges faced by doctors, nurses and other health personnel who work 24/7 dealing with this pandemic.

The writer is Tech Editor of The the New Straits Times with 25 years of experience covering and writing technology stuff in the consumer, enterprise, telecommunications and emerging technology space.

By Izwan Ismail.

Read more @

NST Leader: Measured success

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020
Some Malaysian universities, having caught this fever, continue to host such centres. Neither excellence nor world-class has come their way. (Image From Pixabay: For illustration purposes only)
Some Malaysian universities, having caught this fever, continue to host such centres. Neither excellence nor world-class has come their way. (Image From Pixabay: For illustration purposes only)

RANKING education rankles for two reasons. One, education is fast becoming a cutthroat business because of it. Two, ranking education has become an industry unto itself.

Blame it on two 20th century words — “excellence” and “world-class”. At one time, not long ago, every university — and even training centre — rushed to set up “Centres of Excellence” as if you can turn campuses into factories that produce tubes that can squeeze “excellence” as you would some paste.

Some Malaysian universities, having caught this fever, continue to host such centres. Neither excellence nor world-class has come their way.

But first, can education be measured in this way? And, what are we measuring, really? To measure anything, let alone education, we must know its purpose.

Only then we can “measure” it and say it is this or that. But there are things in human life that cannot be measured.

The rise and rapid fall of the bell curve that attempted to measure human performance is one example. But that is a Leader for another time.

Here and now, the question is: what really is the purpose of education? We advance an answer. Education is the process by which the intellect and heart acquire knowledge, with the end purpose of creating a good man.

Such an education teaches us about who we are, how we should live our lives, what other life forms share this Earth with us and how we should treat them. Granted, these are big questions, but a complete education must perforce answer them.

Disturbingly, modern education does not do this well, if it does it at all. To a large extent, our universities send us out of the campus gates with an incomplete education. And an unbalanced one at that.

Because they provide medicine only for the mind, leaving the heart unattended. Most of the ills of the world, if not all, can be traced to untutored hearts.

World wars, genocides, climate change and racism emanate from disturbed hearts, if not troubled minds.

Even Covid-19 can be traced to an unbalanced education that pays no heed to other life forms. A tutored heart would know better to leave wildlife in the wild.

To count such an unbalanced education isn’t a measure for measure. But that is not what rankles most. It is the placing of profit before people and other life forms.

The sad thing is that the profit chase isn’t just happening in the market for goods. It has infiltrated the realm of knowledge providers.

Not wanting to be outdone, public universities, with reduced funds, are running the rat race, too, through league tables. Top 10, Top 50, Top 100 and what have you are beginning to read like pop charts, only that these are not music to the ears.

The rat race hasn’t stopped there. Much to their displeasure, the rankers are made to run their own rat race, too.

What started as two — Times Higher Education and QS — has now grown to more than what we can count with our fingers.

There is even a Shanghai 500. Money, it seems, has a way of making one beat a path to the market. Do not get us wrong.

We are not against measuring. As they say, what gets measured gets done. But how do you count what lies lodged in the mind and heart? The league tables have no answer.

Red more @

Meeting university requirements

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

In MUET, all the four language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing are tested.

It measures and reports candidates’ level of proficiency based upon an aggregated score range of zero to 300.

The scores correlate with a banding system ranging from Band 1 to Band 6, with Band 6 being the best achievement.

In 2015, a policy was implemented that stipulated the minimum band required for entry and graduation for specific courses, namely, Band 2 for entry and Band 3 to graduate for Arts and Social Sciences courses; Band 3 for entry and Band 4 for to graduate from Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses; and Band 4 for entry and Band 5 to graduate from Law and Medicine courses.

Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) considers MUET scores or band an important indicator of a student’s ability to pursue academic programmes that are delivered in English.

Professor Dr Nor Aziah AliasProfessor Dr Nor Aziah Alias

While MUET is the key English language minimum entry requirement, UiTM director of academic development Professor Dr Nor Aziah Alias said UiTM has taken the initiative to align the institution’s English language requirements to other approved examinations or tests such as the English Language Testing System (IELTS) and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL

“Thus students who have studied overseas or international students with appropriate grades or scores in such examinations or tests will have no problem fulfilling the entry requirement of their respective programmes,” she said.

This video at are among resources MUET candidates can view on the Internet.This video at are among resources MUET candidates can view on the Internet.

For graduation, Nor Aziah said UiTM does not use MUET as a requirement but instead uses a home-grown English Exit Test (EET) for students to assess their ability and readiness for workplace communication.

Norlida Abu Bakar, Language Proficiency Division head at Universiti Putra Malaysia’s (UPM) Centre For The Advancement of Language Competence (CALC), said MUET bands (score) are among the criteria in the Special Programme Terms for each programme offered by the varsity.

Each programme has different MUET bands requirements with the lowest (Band 1) for entry into the Bachelor of Arts (Malay Language and Linguistics) programme.

A lot of practice will enable candidates to score in their MUET exam.A lot of practice will enable candidates to score in their MUET exam.

“To help students cope better with their studies, CALC offers courses under the English Learning Experience Package (ELEx) which is compulsory for all students according to the English proficiency levels in their MUET (for local students) and TOEFL or IELTS (for international students results. UPM does not require MUET as a graduation criteria.”

Apart from IELTS and TOEFL, MUET is one of the language prerequisites for enrolment into degree programmes at Taylor’s University.

Prema Ponnudurai, head of Department of Liberal Arts and Humanities, said generally, the lowest MUET score to gain acceptance into a programme at Taylor’s is Band 4.

“However, it differs from programme to programme,” she said, adding that some programmes require only IELTS or TOEFL results .

A Form Six student participating in public speaking, which can help overcome shyness or awkward situations during the MUET speaking test.A Form Six student participating in public speaking, which can help overcome shyness or awkward situations during the MUET speaking test.

To take MUET, matriculation and Form Six students usually register via their institutions while private or individual candidates can register for MUET online via the MEC website A PIN ID costing RM101 can be bought from Bank Simpanan Nasional for registration purposes.

Apart from the three exam sessions conducted at MUET centres over a period of two days, candidates who cannot wait to queue for MUET seats can also sit the test via MUET on Demand (MoD) which is conducted at one sitting.

Available since June 2018, MoD takes a new approach whereby candidates are given the choice of taking the exam using Computer Based Test or conventional test at a specified location with results ready within two weeks’ time as opposed to the standard 60 days for sessions-based MUET.

By Rozana Sani.

Read more @

Universities and rebuilding of M’sia

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

Real change cannot come only via the ballot box. Our columnist explains how private universities can be instrumental in shaping a better future for the country.

MANY Malaysians, including civil society, talk of change in this nation. People desire change for the better and for their children. However, the “mistake” here is to focus too much on bringing about change through the ballot box.

After so many years of watching politics in this country, I can safely say that elections alone can never lead to any real change.

If Malaysians want real change, they must do it themselves instead of pinning their hopes on the likes of public institutions and political parties.

I am of the opinion that Malaysians are all rich and educated enough and they care enough to initiate changes whose fruits can be enjoyed within a decade.

Today and over the coming weeks, I will outline in this column how many of such changes can be done, not so much with funds and infrastructure, but with the ingenuity, resolve and goodness of spirit of true Malaysians.

In this article, I look at how private universities in Malaysia can be a major player in these good changes that fair-minded Malaysians yearn for.

Private universities have come a long way and many have become reputable entities. It is now time to look beyond the ringgit and sen and consider the kind of graduates who will make Malaysia a great nation to live in and an important part of the global construct.

These universities had set out to produce graduates at par with those of public universities, and they have done so. They then embarked on creating a research culture among their academics, and they have achieved that. They also aimed to overtake public universities in rankings, and that has happened.

Congratulations, private universities are now similar to the big public universities. In my book, however, that does not say very much.

There is little point in producing large batches of graduates and research papers by the bushels if these do not have any impact on the nation and its people. If they follow the strategies I outline below, private universities are poised for the next S-curve and can outdo the big boys in education and research.

First, all major private universities should have a board of advisers for each faculty.

For instance, the Faculty of Social Science or Faculty of Engineering can appoint advisers who include professionals, lawmakers, activists and academics to deliberate on national issues and work with the faculty’s academics to formulate research proposals or action research that can bring about real change in the community and the environment on a micro level.

The Malays have a saying about making big changes through a series of small steps: “Sedikit-sedikit lama-lama jadi bukit.” Bring the community into the university and the university into the community.

Second, the KPIs (key performance indicators) of academics should be changed so that meaningful research, publications and activities are produced. Associate professors and professors from private institutions are different from the ones at public universities. The papers and research by private university academics must have real impact at the micro-level of society.

Third, private universities can introduce courses that teach the concepts of shared history, shared prosperity and shared spirituality that I have written about (A nation at the crossroads, March 3,2020). The idea is to produce hundreds of thousands of graduates without a racist or bigoted make-up. There won’t be any graduate performing the Nazi salute and threatening people with the spectre of the May 13 riots.

Fourth, private universities can set up their own Council of Professors and place them within a shadow cabinet construct to offer advice and feedback to the government and society at large on issues and policies important to nation building.Fifth, with respect to the racial imbalance in private universities, a special scholarship allocation can be made for Malay students, particularly those with the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC). We as Malaysians need to take care of these Malay UEC holders because they are the future elements of change and they need to be carefully and strategically placed in society through education and professional training.

Sixth, university students should be encouraged to be active in student societies to learn the value of social organisation and public participation. I recommend that student societies should be formed along the lines of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Student groups based on race, religion and national political parties should be disallowed on campus.

Finally, private university academics can be communicators to the nation by becoming respectable columnists for mainstream media and by participating in civil society forums on various issues. These academics do not need to criticise political parties or personalities. They can stay within the issue construct and present their views in an academic and professional manner.

With these strategies in place, private universities can be the most important agents for changing the entrenched issue of race and religious conflicts or the cavalier attitude concerning the environment and sustainable development. Their graduates are then nation-ready and globally prepped to contribute to mankind as a whole.

Perhaps then local and foreign billionaires would be willing to donate money in the form of endowments that allow the universities to operate in perpetuity without always worrying about breaking even to pay salaries and finance development.

If private universities fail to respond to this opportunity, the nation will never change, the world will remain the same and the universities themselves will eventually fade into irrelevance.

Do these changes require billion-ringgit investments? No. Do these changes threaten any political or governing body? I don’t think so. Thus, they are doable and manageable.

If this country fails to have harmonious citizenry, sustainable development and a clean environment, we have no one to blame but ourselves. Our graduates are the future and the academics have full responsibility over how they turn out. In a way, private universities hold in their hands the ballot box as well as a few ministers and perhaps a prime minister of the future.

By Prof Dr Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi.

Read more @

Mohd Radzi, Noraini head education, higher education

Sunday, March 15th, 2020

Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin (left) and Datuk Dr Noraini Ahmad.

AS the new Education Minister, Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin’s (pic) focus is to move forward.

He said it is pertinent to plan a good education system.

The Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia supreme council member requested that he be given space and time to look into the various issues facing the country’s education system.

“I will first (carry out research), understand and prioritise the matters that must be handled in depth.

“We will do our best as soon as we can.

“This is a very important and huge ministry.

“We have around 500,000 staff across the country,” he said when clocking in at his new office at the Education Ministry’s 10th floor on Wednesday.

Mohd Radzi arrived at the Education Ministry later in the afternoon.

This is because he was returning from the Economic Affairs Ministry after attending his final event at the ministry, where he had served as the deputy minister under the Pakatan Harapan government.

Before meeting with reporters, he had a discussion with the ministry’s top management including Education director- general Dr Habibah Abdul Rahim, secretary-general Datuk Dr Mohd Gazali Abas, deputy secretary-general (development) Datuk Azizan Mohamad Sidin, deputy secretary-general (operations) Mohd Azhan Md Amir, deputy director-general (school operation sector) Adzman Talib and deputy director-general (development and teacher professionalism) Dr Ahmad Rafee Che Kassim.

When asked about the various education issues including the Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI), the free breakfast programme as well as his hopes for the ministry, Mohd Radzi said it had only been two minutes since he entered the ministry.

“Let me sit down with the officers and analyse the scenarios and understand the situations before I say anything further,” he said.

He will further discuss matters that must be given immediate attention with the ministry’s top management, he said, adding that he is aware of parents’ high hopes in having their children receive the best education.

“They want to see the country’s next generation master various skills besides academics.

“I am humbled to be entrusted with the responsibility of bringing our country’s education system to greater heights by our Prime Minister,” Mohd Radzi added.

Meanwhile, newly sworn-in Higher Education Minister Datuk Dr Noraini Ahmad (pic) has pledged to bring the country’s higher education performance to the next level.

“I want to express my thanks to Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin for believing in me and appointing me to helm this post.

“The ministry will try our best to achieve the goals entrusted to us by the Prime Minister,” said Noraini who started her first day as Higher Education Minister with a visit to her new office on Tuesday.

She arrived at the Higher Education Ministry in Precinct 5, Putrajaya at 5.45pm on March 10.

She was met on arrival by Mohd Gazali, Kamel, Mohd Azhan, Azizan as well as Higher Education Department deputy director-general Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Saleh Jaafar.

Noraini said she had not been briefed by Mohd Gazali.

“I just came in today (Tuesday) and have not been briefed yet on any issues.

“After I am briefed, we will put our focus to bring Malaysia’s higher education performance to the next level, locally and internationally,” she told reporters after a walkabout at her office.

When asked about the move to split the Education Ministry, Noraini said: “As mentioned in the Prime Minister’s speech, splitting the Education Ministry into two separate entities can streamline work procedures.”

6 local varsities among top 50 in world subject rankings

Friday, March 13th, 2020

Six Malaysian universities made it to the world’s Top 50 in the 2020 edition of the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings by Subject announced last week.

Universiti Malaya (UM) continued to maintain its position by having its Library and Information Science ranked at 38th, Electrical & Electronic Engineering at 46th and Development Studies at 49th.

Taylor’s University scored the highest achievement, taking 16th position in Hospitality and Leisure Management.

The Management and Science University (MSU) and Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) hit milestones by becoming first-time entrants in the same subject. MSU was ranked at 28th while UiTM was at 31st.

Theology, Divinity & Religious Studies offered at the International Islamic University of Malaysia rose to 37th place from the 51-100 band last year.

Others in the top 50 subjects was Universiti Teknologi Petronas’ Mineral and Mining Engineering at No. 42 — also a new entrant.

The 10th edition of the rankings evaluated 48 subjects, with 13,138 programmes taken by students at 1,368 universities in 83 locations across the world.

QS uses four key metrics to compile the rankings — Academic Reputation, Employer Reputation, Citations per Paper and the H-Index (measuring the productivity of an institution’s research faculty).

According to QS spokesperson Jack Moran, the strategic focus on transnational education had enabled Malaysian universities, particularly those in the Top 50, to forge transformational global partnerships and enhance their institutional profiles across the world.

However, he said Malaysian universities needed to improve on their graduates’ employability.

UM vice-chancellor Datuk Dr Abdul Rahim Hashim attributed the university’s performance to the 2016-2020 UM Strategic Plan, which produced great results in research, teaching and learning.

The six universities listed in the world’s Top 50 in the 2020 edition of the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings by Subject.

“UM is now formulating the next phase of its Strategic Plan for 2021-2025,” he said.

Taylor’s University vice-chancellor and president, Professor Michael Driscoll, said being listed in the top 20 in Hospitality and Leisure Management was a testimony of the university’s international reach.

“Our employer partners have strongly signalled their approval of the direction Taylor’s is taking and the outcome of this transformation, reflected in the new rankings, is the result of a massive team effort and close engagement with employers,” he said.

MSU president Professor Tan Sri Dr Mohd Shukri Ab Yajid said the university’s hospitality studies curriculum gave it an advantage.

“This accomplishment has set a benchmark for us, showing that the university is on a par internationally and acts as an indication that we are doing it right,” he said.

For UiTM, the latest ranking was evidence that the industry and academic peers were recognising its students’ competency and capability.

“We strongly believe that this ranking will open doors for more collaborations, hence creating career opportunities for our graduates,” said vice-chancellor Emeritus Professor Datuk Ir Dr Mohd Azraai Kassim.

Meanwhile IIUM rector Emeritus Professor Tan Sri Dzulkifli Abdul Razak said the university will continue to provide supportive climate/ecosystem that would inspire academics to do more community-orientated responsible research, publishing, teaching-learning whereby Theology, Religion and Islamic Studies are not only discussed in classes and seminar, but also applied and practice in the drive to fulfil a higher purpose of education.

UTP vice-chancellor Professor Dr Mohamed Ibrahim Abdul Mutalib said being listed in the top 50 rankings for Mineral and Mining Engineering reflected the view of the industry towards its graduates.

“The most significant improvement was the reputation score, especially Employer Reputation that contributed 37 per cent of the overall score, indicating the satisfaction of employers towards our students’ capabilities and skills,” he said.

In total, 175 programmes offered by 22 local higher-learning institutions were ranked. A total of 21 programmes saw an improvement, 30 saw a decline while 102 were unchanged.

Universiti Malaya had the most-ranked subjects, with 34 out of 48 it offered.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States was the best university for a dozen subjects — more than any other university.

It was closely followed by Harvard University and the University of Oxford, which were ranked best in the world for 11 and eight subjects, respectively.

By Rozana Sani.

Read more @

At the core of internationalisation

Friday, March 13th, 2020
Taylor’s University Culinary and Hospitality Management programme, which is ranked among the top 20 in the world, attracts students from all over the Innovative design solutions created by Universiti Putra Malaysia students. -NSTP/AIZUDDIN SAAD

The “global prominence” shift in the Malaysia Education Blueprint for Higher Education 2015 to 2025 was a continuation from the National Higher Education Strategic Plan 2007 to 2020, said Dr Wan Chang Da, deputy director of the National Higher Education Research Institute (IPPTN).

“Across these policy documents, internationalisation serves to position Malaysia as an international education hub, or more specifically, an international student hub.

“The objectives were to promote the brand of Education Malaysia and reap the economic benefits of international students. However, this approach may not be sustainable

Dr Wan Chang Da.

“Malaysia is known for its affordable education and an alternative avenue for students from countries that have difficulties entering other more developed systems. Relying on this may not sustain Malaysia to become an international education hub,” said Wan.

While in theory, universities can improve through internationalisation, such is not the case if they focus solely on international student enrolment, he said.

“We have not looked into developing the substantial aspect of our curriculum and pedagogy to fully unleash the potential of internationalisation.

“The simplistic nature of counting international students and academics gives an overly simplified picture of what is international in higher education,” said Wan.

International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) deputy rector (internationalisation and global network) Professor Dr Nor Faridah Abdul Manaf said a myriad of factors led to the slight decrease from 24 to 23 per cent in international student intake at IIUM in recent years.

Professor Dr Nor Faridah Abdul Manaf.

“With the global economic crisis, fee hikes and virus scare, we see a drop in students coming to our shores. New competitors have also emerged, such as Indonesia and New Zealand.”

According to MEBHE, rankings can serve as a benchmark to see the strengths of an education system and how it can improve.

While the merit of a university lies in its knowledge development and academic community, rankings play a role in putting institutions on the map. However, they should not be the definitive measure of quality.

Wan said: “University rankings may be a misleading indicator of internationalisation. If we are serious about improving the quality of teaching and learning for Malaysian universities, we should not play the ranking game.

“Playing it means having international students and academics just because of their passports, not because of their expertise and capability. Students and academics became mere numbers to institutions, for the sake of chasing KPIs.

“We have not fully appreciated the diversity these individuals bring to our institutions and look into ways of integrating them to become a part of our institutions.”

The true motivation for universities to hire international academics must be explored, he added.

“From an academic viewpoint, every student and academic should be equal. Why do we treat international students as cash cows just because they pay more or treat international academics as second class citizens on a contract basis?”

International students at Sunway University make up 12 per cent of the student body.

Similarly, Faridah said that universities must not exist to fill the quota set by any international rankings, especially with financial limitations.

“IIUM forms collaborations with institutions in 39 countries, from America to Oceania. But we can’t expect what is right for universities in affluent countries to be right for us. Financial means are required to employ the best international academics or have the right number of staff for us to make time for research.

“In some Malaysian universities, we are still dealing with long hours of teaching thus having time to write is a luxury. The situation is evident from the number of teachers opting for early retirement, dying young or leaving academia for a greener pasture.

“We can attract international students if we have a good pool of excellent professors. Unfortunately, many of them are often promoted to the top executive positions,” said Faridah.


Malaysian International Higher Education policies must be driven by long term goals, said Taylor’s University vice-chancellor Professor Michael Driscoll.

“We need to find ways to attract international students, such as providing post study work opportunities. Joined effort in crafting the government policy is crucial as immigration should be on the same page with higher education institutions.

“We also need to be open-minded towards hiring non-Malaysians to attract the best staff from around the world,” he said.

Professor Michael Driscoll.

Faridah echoes the importance of having a more accepting society.

“If we want to attract more students, we have to make it easier for them in terms of job opportunities, scholarships, enrolment and visa application.

“Our general population must also be welcoming of international students especially those from developing countries. There are cases where students would get harassed for being different,” said Faridah.

Financial limitations can be overcome with scholarships, stronger alliances and edutourism, said Universiti Malaya (UM) deputy vice-chancellor (Academic and International) Professor Dr Kamila Ghazali.

“While many of our students are interested in mobility programmes, we could only sponsor a limited number. To overcome this, we try to negotiate and work together with our partners for sponsorships and cost waivers.”

“The Malaysian International Scholarship, for instance, attracts the best brains from around the world to pursue advanced academic studies in Malaysia. It can be extended to more countries to attract more students.

“Youths are also more receptive to the idea of study beyond the classroom. Through edutourism, international students can learn in natural, historical and multi-cultural environments.”

Highly accessible university websites are the driving force to enhance global appeal, she added.

International students at Sunway University make up 12 per cent of the student body.

“UM has an optimised website that makes it easy and enjoyable for site visitors. While our official website is in English, our Marketing and Recruitment Center’s website is available in 10 different languages.”

Curriculum internationalisation is another way forward.

Kamila said: “UM is in the midst of a curriculum review process. We are constantly striving to improve our curriculum, making sure that our courses are up-to-date and meeting the market needs of current times.”

To strengthen global reputation, universities need to develop their international research collaborations, said Sunway University Malaysia vice-chancellor Professor Graeme Wilkinson.

“We must ensure that the research impacts global problems. They need to attract the attention of academics and major companies in other countries.

“This is easier said than done, but having talented academics working on global problems and coming up with credible solutions would get us noticed internationally.”

Malaysia needs a more supportive regulatory framework for international students, he added.

“Allowing international students to work during their studies to help cover their living costs and providing post-study work visas for one or two years for them to gain valuable experience. Countries that permit these seem to attract more international students.”

By Rayyan Rafidi.

Read more @

Internationalisation of universities

Friday, March 13th, 2020
The Education Ministry, through its Higher Education department, seeks to boost the national higher education brand from being known for its affordability to being recognised internationally for its academic and research expertise.

Internationalisation of Malaysian universities has grown in scale in the past decade.

This is in line with “global prominence”, a major shift in the Malaysia Education Blueprint for Higher Education 2015 to 2025 (MEBHE) that aims to enhance the end-to-end international student experience, increase brand visibility, and strengthen existing and new markets for international students.

Generally, the process of internationalisation includes fostering cross-border academic and research partnerships, exchange programmes, global-focused curriculum and recruitment of foreign students and academics to meet the demands of a globalised world.

The Education Ministry, through its Higher Education department, seeks to boost the national higher education brand from being known for its affordability to being recognised internationally for its academic and research expertise.

According to Universiti Malaya (UM) deputy vice-chancellor (Academic and International) Professor Dr Kamila Ghazali, internationalisation has transformed the Malaysian higher education system in many dimensions.

Professor Dr Kamila Ghazali.

“It is very important not only for the nation but also for our students. The international exposure undoubtedly accords them a much wider worldview.”

The Malaysian community would also benefit from the initiatives, she added.

“Universities use their international resources to strengthen social inclusion processes, offering mutual benefits and learning for all stakeholders.

“For example, a UM researcher is working on the Malacca Portuguese community’s language documentation and revitalisation efforts, in collaboration with a UK university.”

Taylor’s University vice-chancellor Professor Michael Driscoll said: “Learning and the development of knowledge as the core mission of higher education should go beyond national boundaries.

“Apart from attracting international staff and students, institutions should actively encourage local staff and students to gain experience at universities abroad.”

Malaysian private higher education sector has adopted a strong international outlook from the outset, he added.

“The future for all respectable universities is to strengthen their international dimension. Without this, they will lose the ability to provide quality education for a globalised world,” said Driscoll.

Professor Graeme Wilkinson.

Leading global universities are highly international in nature, said Sunway University Malaysia vice-chancellor Professor Graeme Wilkinson.

“These universities bring together talented academics and students from different backgrounds from across the globe. The mixture of ideas helps drive innovation and ultimately stimulates global businesses operating at the leading edge of scientific and technological fields. Hence, it’s important for Malaysian universities to be international,” said Wilkinson.

A meaningful internationalisation approach is based on values, according to International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) deputy rector (internationalisation and global network) Professor Dr Nor Faridah Abdul Manaf.

“Education at IIUM is about grooming future leaders with values and integrity that excel in their field of expertise. It is not so much about making profit.

“In transforming a life, we help transform a country. IIUM aims to service students from all walks of life and different parts of the world, especially from conflict zones like Palestine and developing countries in Asia and Africa,” she said.

In the Malaysia Education Blueprint for Higher Education 2015 to 2025, a target was set to place two universities in the Global Top 100 by 2025.

Meanwhile, two targets in the blueprint have been achieved, namely, having one university in Asia’s Top 25 and four in the Global Top 200.

Following its success of placing 70th in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings 2020, UM was recently ranked 58th in the Times Higher Education (THE)’s ranking of the world’s most international universities 2020, the only Malaysian university to join the list.

The four metrics assessed were proportion of international staff, students, research co-authorship and reputation.

Universiti Malaya enhances its research and development as part of its internationalisation strategies. -

According to Kamila, the UM’s internationalisation strategies span six critical sectors.

They are student mobility, staff mobility, academic programme, research and development, governance and autonomy, social integration and community engagement.

“We have 5,000 international students from over 90 different countries, which is 20 per cent of the total student population. Recognising the importance of international experience, UM sends around 2,000 students abroad for mobility programmes annually.

The university’s international faculty members make up 13 per cent of the population, she added.

“Our academic programmes are on par with international standards. For example, our Business and Accountancy programmes are accredited by the professional bodies. We also undergo the Asean University Network — Quality Assurance (AUN-QA) assessment,” said Kamila.

Ranked 12th in the World and 1st in Malaysia for QS 2020 Top 50 Under 50 universities, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) has more than 100 international academics

Professor Dr M. Iqbal Saripan.

UPM deputy vice chancellor (academic and international) Professor Dr M. Iqbal Saripan said that studying with international students and learning from faculty members from other countries will help local students broaden their life perspectives.

“We have 1,556 international undergraduate students on campus. Meanwhile, at the postgraduate level, there are 3,733 international students, making up 36 per cent of the student population. They will normally bring their families here as well.”

To enhance its global reach, UPM academic programmes are internationally accredited.

“UPM is the first Malaysian university and sixth in Southeast Asia to receive the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business Accreditation (AACBA). Other accreditations include International Engineering Alliance (IEA) and Royal Society of Chemistry,” said Iqbal.

Universiti Putra Malaysia encourages international research collaborations. Professor Dr. Raja Noor Zaliha Raja Abd. Rahman (right) is pictured conducting space research in Russia.

For private universities in the country, international twinning programmes are a strong feature of internationalisation, said Driscoll.

“Taylor’s University sends and receives students from across the globe, including sending students to the top 100 universities in the world in North America and Europe.

“Ranked in the global top 20 for Culinary and Hospitality Management, we have had a very productive partnership with Toulouse University, France, in this field for over 20 years.”

International academics make up 22 per cent of the Taylor’s University faculty while 30 per cent of undergraduate cohort are international students.

“The number of international students, including postgraduate students, has been growing rapidly in recent years,” said Driscoll.

Wilkinson said Sunway University has always aimed to attract the best academics including from abroad.

“Having excellent academics enables us to deliver top quality education to our students and carry out leading research. Around 15 per cent of our academics are international. At the more senior level, around 50 per cent are from overseas.”

The university has 1,000 international students which amounts to 12 per cent of their student body.

“The presence of international students helps our domestic students become more aware of different cultures and understand the world better, thus becoming better global citizens.

“Ultimately, this promotes social harmony and international collaboration between graduates which can eventually lead to international business opportunities,” said Wilkinson.


Malaysian universities are also increasingly forming international research collaborations and joint academic programmes.

Wilkinson said Sunway University formed cooperative research centres with international universities.

“We established a joint Future Cities Research Institute with Lancaster University, a top 10 UK university, as well as a Joint Research Centre on Information Technology with Huizhou University, China.

“Our academic staff have co-authored research papers with international academics. Topics included vaccine development with Oxford University researchers, and improving solar energy systems with researchers from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.”

Sunway University students also benefit from obtaining Lancaster degrees while studying in Malaysia, he added.

“Our academic programmes are jointly approved by two international universities,” said Wilkinson.

Sunway University houses nine research centres across various fields of studies which enhances its international reputation.

Kamila said UM is continuously partnering with top universities to enhance teaching and learning, multidisciplinary research and capacity building.

According to the 2020 Education Mandate, public universities should focus on strengthening collaborations with the Top 100 universities in the world.

“Since 2014, we have produced over 15,000 co-authored articles from our international collaborations.

“We have developed ties with over 40 of the top 100 universities in the QS World University Rankings 2020. UM is a member of over 30 global networks, such as the Asian Universities Alliance and the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU).

“Through these networks, we bring experts together to exchange ideas and collaborate on effective solutions to global challenges affecting the region.

“Our researchers actively collaborate with counterparts in prominent institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Yale University and Peking University.”

“Currently, UM has two double undergraduate degrees, six dual Masters and 22 dual and joint Phd programmes with its international partner institutions in fields namely medicine, science and engineering,” said Kamila.

In facilitating international experience, UPM offers 17 collaborative programmes with 13 international institutions, said Iqbal.

“For example, we established a jointly awarded PhD with University of Newcastle, Australia and University of Sheffield, UK.”

UPM is also globally recognised for its ground-breaking research, he added.

“From 2013 to 2018, we acquired RM284,724,541 of grants for research projects. To date, we have filed over 2,500 Intellectual Properties (IP) and had 171 IP commercialised with gross sales of over RM61 million,” said Iqbal.

By Rayyan Rafidi.

Read more @

Apply for new session

Monday, March 9th, 2020

APPLICATIONS for entry into public universities, Teacher Education Institutes, matriculation colleges, polytechnics, community colleges and Public Skills Training Institutes for the 2020/2021 academic session will be opened from noon on Feb 24.

The Education Ministry, in a statement, said the applications can be made through the UPUOnline System at

Applicants are required to buy the Unique ID numbers at Bank Simpanan Nasional (BSN) beginning Feb 24 before submitting their applications.

“The sale of the unique ID numbers will close on March 30 for Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) leavers, while the closing date for Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) school leavers or those with equivalent qualifications is on April 6, ” the statement said.

Those who sat for SPM/STPM/matriculation/pre-university programmes/STAM can make their application five days after the SPM/STPM results are released.

The UPU application deadline is March 31 for SPM leavers and April 7 for STPM leavers or those with equivalent qualifications.

For enquiries, applicants can contact the Student Admission Management Division of the Higher Education Department at 03-88708200 or send an e-mail to or via Facebook page KEMASUKANBPKPJPT,

Twitter @TWT_UPU and Instagram @KEMASUKANBPKP.

by Bernama.

Read more @