Archive for the ‘Colleges / Universities - Issues’ Category

13 Malaysian universities in Times’ world ranking.

Monday, September 16th, 2019
UNIVERSITI Malaya (UM) is the third best performer in Asean in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2020 released on Thursday.

UM which is ranked in the 301-350 band, is the top Malaysian institution.The National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University top the rankings in Asean and are ranked 25th and in joint 48th place with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign respectively.

Malaysia improves its representation in this year’s ranking, claiming 13 places overall, up from 11 last year.

These are UM, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP), Universiti Tenaga Nasional, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Multimedia University and Universiti Teknologi Mara (see table).

Of the two newcomers, the best-performing is UniMAP, which debuts in the 601-800 band.

Almost all Malaysian universities remain stable in comparison to their performance last year, with the sole move being UPM, moving up into the 601-800 band (from 801-1,000 last year).

UM vice-chancellor Datuk Abdul Rahim Hashim attributed the success to academic members and other UM staff members, thanking them for their dedication to consistently propel the university’s efforts on every front.

“UM will continue to strive for improvement under all the five pillars, as we continue to face internal and external challenges,” he added. On Malaysia’s performance, THE chief knowledge officer Phil Baty said it is an encouraging sign that Malaysian institutions have been able to expand their representation in this year’s rankings.

“For Malaysia to move higher up the table, the country must focus on developing its research environment.

“Investment is also a key

ingredient to attracting the best international students and academics to Malaysian institutions,” he said.

UTAR maintained its position in the 501–600 band.

It’s president and chief executive officer Prof Dr Ewe Hong

Tat said the varsity will continue to improve itself in reaching “greater heights with more industrial and international collaborations”.

“We are working on more joint research collaborations with our partner universities and also industrial based research.

“We are conducting more student exchange programmes for international exposure and improving the curriculum to meet the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution,” he added.

UTP vice-chancellor Prof Dr Mohamed Ibrahim Abdul Mutalib said despite the university’s young age of 22 years, it has continuously achieved excellence by maintaining its position as the top private Malaysian university.

UTP maintained its 601-800 band in this year’s rankings.

“UTP is not pursuing ranking just for the sake of rankings, but as a mechanism to measure the effectiveness of our rigorous and continuous effort in enhancing our teaching and learning, research, students’ development and operational excellence.

“We will continue to emphasise on strategies towards academic leadership, research stewardship, students’ experiences and operational excellence in our quest to become globally prominent.

“We are constantly expanding and growing our network and collaborative efforts as one of the keys for growth is networking with the right partners.

“Our goal is to become an internationally recognised partner of choice for industry and respected scientific communities by 2025,” he added.

Prof Mohamed Ibrahim said UTP has also introduced courses related to data analytics to further equip students for the future and the needs of industry

The University of Oxford tops the global rankings for the fourth year running, while the California Institute of Technology is second followed by the University of Cambridge, Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in third, fourth and fifth respectively.

Now in its 16th year, the ranking includes a total 1,396 institutions across 92 countries and regions (up from 1,258 universities across 86 territories last year).

For more information, visit https://www.timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankings/2020/world-ranking.

Transitioning into degree studies

Saturday, August 24th, 2019
“(Students) should also prepare themselves mentally as there are many challenges at university…” – Hazlina Mohd Padil, UiTM Negeri Sembilan lecturer

NEXT month, many students will embark on their degree studies which can be both an exciting and daunting prospect.

First-semester undergraduate students have to navigate unknown territory where they learn to be independent and adapt to the new learning environment.

Their first semester’s performance is crucial to set the tone for the rest of their degree studies.

How can they cope with the new teaching and learning styles? What preparations can they make for a smooth transition from pre-university to degree

MORE INDEPENDENT

For Nadia Nadhirah Abdul Rashid, 24, from International Medical University, being in medical school requires her to be more responsible.

“Studying medicine is more patients-oriented at the university so you really need to be independent.

“We learn by going through cases. What I usually do is take note of the patient’s medical history and conduct my own physical examination. At home, I study and reflect on the cases in order to improve.”

She shared that there is more self-study involved when studying for a degree.

“I do a lot of e-learning on my own. We are now moving into evidence-based medicine. So I have to constantly update myself with new research, protocol and clinical guidelines in the country and internationally.

“It is not enough to just study using the lecture notes given,” said Muhammad Hadzif Hisham, 22, from Universiti Putra Malaysia.

“I need to equip myself with more information to better understand the subject. Additional notes can be derived from external resources either from books or the Internet.

“For my degree, I feel I’m more in control. Before I enrolled in the Education Faculty, I looked for information to see if the field of study suits me,” he added.

Mohamad Zharif Iqbal Mohamad Azuwan, 24, from Universiti, Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Negeri Sembilan, shared: “Being in a university now has certainly taught me to be more independent.

“For example, during my schooldays, my parents used to send me to tuition to help me understand the subjects better. But now, I have to have the initiative to learn more about the subjects,” he said.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) Engineering student Shaza Arissa Samsul, 22, who completed her pre-university education at Kolej Matrikulasi Negeri Sembilan, agrees with Mohamad Zharif.

Shaza Arissa said: “During matriculation, the schedule was more school-like. But now at university, I have to be more independent in managing my study time.”

Nadia Nadhirah added that being independent also means having to find a place to rent, pay bills and drive herself to district hospitals and clinics.

Diana Mahendran, 23, a University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) Political Science student, said: “My teachers told us that being STPM students, we would fare well as we are usually well-prepared due to our tougher papers and coursework.

“However, upon entering UKM, I had to adjust to living in a hostel. I also had to take the initiative to know what is happening on campus. This is different from the school environment where we had teachers and friends reminding us daily,” said Diana.

Tan Yik Hoe (third from left) discussing with his group members to complete an assignment.

Engineering student Tan Yik Hoe, 22, added: “I took some time to adjust in finding my way around a big campus, staying aware of assignment deadlines and making friends.

“To blend into a new community, I joined clubs and societies,” said the Taylor’s University student, who completed a Canadian Pre-University programme prior to starting his degree in the American Degree Programme (ADP).

For Shaza Arissa, finding her bearing in her first year of degree required a little bit of work.

She said: “During my first year in studies, I had to get used to new friends and a new learning schedule. Adapting to the university environment was challenging because it is very different from matriculation.

“The matriculation environment is more similar to a boarding school. Meanwhile at university, the environment is more flexible and the class schedule is less packed.”

ASSESSMENTS AND LECTURES

Before starting his degree, Computer Science student Muhammad Nur Hafiz Zamri, 23, assumed there would be a lot of tests and examinations.

“But I was wrong because most of our assessments come in the form of projects and assignments.

“Besides lectures, various teaching materials are used such as slides, handouts and visual aids like diagrams and videos.

“After each class, an assignment or task is given. We also have to complete a project, individually or in groups,” he said.

Highlighting the importance of self-research, he added: “At the degree level, we need to do our own research. We cannot wait to be spoon-fed by lecturers. The lecturers will give feedback if our projects need improvement or lacking in quality.

“Tutorials to use a particular software are also given so that students can utilise it in their assignments or projects.”

At university, the curriculum is more demanding and there is more competition among students.

Tan shared: “I also have to study modules outside my chosen field such as social sciences, communication and computing modules. This is different from pre-university where most subjects were directly related and the schedule was structured.

“Since there is no streaming at university, having classmates of various academic abilities can make you feel the pressure. Students who have a strong background in math may find it easy to cope whereas others may find it difficult,” said Tan.

The majority of Tan’s degree subjects follow the 70 per cent coursework and 30 per cent examination system.

“We focus on hands-on experiences rather than just paperwork assignments. This is the main difference from pre-university course. We are not just interested in solving problems. Rather, we focus on understanding the subject matter fully.

“Don’t get stressed if you fail the first few assignments. Instead, use this experience as part of the learning curve to improve your grades towards the final exams,” he advises.

The engineering student pointed out that the teaching styles now utilise online software.

“For example, my Chemistry and Physics lecturers give out assignments and quizzes online. A software is also used as an interaction platform. It took me a while to adjust to these new modes of learning,” added Tan.

Nadia Nadhirah discovered that studying for her degree was vastly different from her foundation studies at UiTM Puncak Alam.

“Before, I studied more general science subjects such as biology and chemistry. But for the first and second year of the degree programme, our curriculum is more in-depth such as the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.

According to Nadia Nadhirah, her degree assessments consisted of a lot of clinical exams.

“We have the Objective Structured Clinical Examination to measure clinical competence. It consists of a circuit of eight stations. For first year students, you have to take down the history of patient with a simulated illness.

“It’s terrifying because you only have around five to seven minutes at each station. So it’s crucial for to practise a lot beforehand. For new students, it is best to practise with friends,” said Nadia Nadhirah.

For Shaza Arissa, the teaching methods and assessments employed by her degree lecturers are different from her matriculation experience.

“During my matriculation days, classes were divided into lectures and tutorials.

Now I am assigned to classes according to my course. The lectures and tutorial classes follow a flexible schedule. The small number of students in lectures has helped me to better understand the subjects.

“For every subject, tasks are evaluated by our lecturer during presentation. This is when I receive feedback from the lecturers which I find to be important for me to improve my work,” said Shaza Arissa.

Another form of assessment is an undergraduate thesis.

Diana said: “The thesis is a requirement for my bachelor’s degree. Students can prepare for this by starting early instead of waiting until the very last minute.

“We have at our disposal the university’s resources such as the library, online research bank, lecturers and online journal sites.”

GROUP WORK

Degree studies usually involve a lot of group work to complete assignments and projects.

Highlighting that proper planning is essential, Mohamad Zharif Iqbal said: “You have to assign the task fairly to all group members. If any of the members have difficulty in completing their work, offer them your help.

“I’d give those who slack off a reminder. If that fails, I inform the lecturer to exclude them from our group evaluation,” he said.

Tan shared that having a high level of maturity is vital when working in groups.

“We all have different opinions. So we should always make sure that everyone has the chance to voice out their ideas and be heard. It is important to have good communication and to be culturally sensitive to your group mates as well.”

Avanish Kumar Chengi Ramaswamy Jayakumar, 23, from Taylor’s University, said that steering clear from conflict is important.

“Choosing our own group members can avoid conflicts. Confront those in the group who are not pulling their weight and express how their poor-quality work affects the group as a whole.”

Avanish shared that he had to conduct several individual and group projects in his degree.

“There is a final year project that requires us to conduct research on a specific topic that we are interested in.

“We also organised a Psychology day. This required us to learn more about the psychology topics before we can start spreading awareness to the public about it. Other than that, we have to do practical work such as doing visitations to old folks’ homes and refugee centres to get a firsthand experience on how we can interact with them.”

INSIGHT

Students can get the first semester off to a good start by listening to the lecturers’ advice.

UiTM Negeri Sembilan lecturer Hazlina Mohd Padil said that students who have never been away from home may face trouble initially.

“I find that students from STPM and matriculation may have difficulty in their first semester such as using English as the medium of communication in class as well as for written assignments and examinations.

“Students should read before going to lectures as it helps you when the lecturer provide the explanation in class.

“They should also prepare themselves mentally as there are many challenges at university including financial and peer pressure,” said Hazlina.

Taylor’s University ADP Physics senior lecturer Dr Loh Kah Heng said some students can adapt well to the flexibility of their programme.

“However, some have trouble adjusting because their pre-university programmes had fixed subjects and schedules.”

Avanish Kumar Chengi Ramaswamy Jayakumar (centre) carrying out revision with classmates

Loh added that empowering degree students is important.

“I adopt a blended learning pedagogy which emphasises a student-centred approach. This includes the flipped classroom method and problem-based learning techniques. I find that students who study at home can apply the concepts well and engage creatively during the discussion.

“To ensure success at university, students should also be academically and socially balanced.”

UPM Educational Studies Faculty senior lecturer Dr Mohd Mursyid Arshad said starting degree is a significant turning point in a student’s life.

“To ease this process, students can discuss with their academic adviser to get assistance. It’s important to join campus activities to step out of their comfort zone.”

“For assignments, students can consult their lecturers but they need to research the topic ahead of time,” said Mohd Mursyid.

University is the platform for students to develop their potential, according to UTM Engineering Faculty lecturer Dr Farhan Mohamed.

“Students should work with peers and explore all opportunities. Do not hesitate to ask or put forward new ideas. Plan your timetable well, be active and enjoy their new university life.

By Rayyan Rafidi.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/education/2019/08/510728/transitioning-degree-studies

New admin building ,multipurpose hall, auditorium for IPG Gaya Campus

Saturday, August 24th, 2019

Seated from left, Tham, Chan, Yusof, Teo and Gerturude at the briefing for the new administration building, multipurpose hall and auditorium at IPG Gaya campus.

KOTA KINABALU: The long-awaited new administration building, multipurpose hall and auditorium will be constructed at the Institut Pendidikan Guru (IPG) Gaya campus.

The RM58.8 million development, said to be one of the biggest projects for Institut Pendidikan Guru Malaysia (IPGM), is expected to be completed by March 15, 2021. The project covers an area of seven acres on the 48-acre land in IPG Gaya campus.

Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching said the development consists of a six-storey administration building as well as a multipurpose hall and auditorium with a capacity of 1,500.

“The project is expected to benefit more than 700 students in the campus upon completion,” she said during her site inspection at IPG Gaya campus here yesterday.

The project falls under the Ministry of Education and is implemented by the federal Public Works Department.

She said the project was first proposed in 2005 but it was not until this year that the development obtained the approval.

“We hope the project can be completed as scheduled by 2021, if not sooner,” she said.

The Letter of Award (SST) was issued on May 10, 2019, while the site was handed over to the contractor on June 10, 2019. The work progress of the development is currently at 1.43 percent.

Teo said IPG Gaya campus, formerly known as Maktab Gaya, was built in 1963. She pointed out that the facilities at the campus, particularly the administration building, was in a dilapidated state.

She said construction of the existing campus was built mainly using sea sand, which resulted in serious cracks in the beams and pillars in the administration building and other blocks.

On another note, Teo assured that there would be additional allocations to Sabah to repair dilapidated schools in the State, but a formal announcement would only be made after the ministry worked out the details.

Meanwhile, IPG Gaya campus director Gerturude Jock thanked the government for realizing the long-awaited development. She said the multi-purpose hall and auditorium would cater for seminars and conventions.

Gerturude said she had also proposed to the State Minister of Education and Innovation, Datuk Dr Yusof Yacob, to turn some of the land at IPG Gaya Campus into an urban educational information centre where students could enjoy nature and fun learning.

Read more @ https://www.theborneopost.com/2019/08/23/new-admin-building-multipurpose-hall-auditorium-for-ipg-gaya-campus/

Higher education as an industry

Saturday, August 24th, 2019

Heriot-Watt University Malaysia is one 10 international branch campuses in the country.

EDUCATION is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world – Nelson Mandela.

Education is the one pillar that cannot be absent in nation building. It is, to many, the most important foundation in a country’s social and economic development. Thus, with all these importance and virtues, can it be viewed as an industry?

In Malaysia, the education sector has come a long way since the first school, Penang Free School, was built in 1816 to provide formal education. After gaining independence, the government set up government-owned schools to provide education to its citizens. The establishment of Universiti Malaya in 1962 acted as a catalyst for decades of education excellence. It is realised that the early years after independence only government schools and universities were torchbearers with the responsibility to provide education to the people.

However, the eighties saw the beginning of private higher education as public universities were only able to provide access to about 14% of youth between the ages of 17 to 23. As a result, a number of private colleges started to offer Diploma and Certificate programmes by established universities from the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States to Malaysian shores. Students were to spend two years in Malaysia and the rest in the main campus abroad.

When Malaysia was struck by an economic downturn in the late eighties, the government facilitated the private colleges by allowing the programmes to be completed in Malaysia. This gave birth to the term transnational higher education.

Ever since then, higher education in Malaysia has grown in quality and quantity, providing education not only to Malaysians but also to international students. From having only government-owned universities to having more international renowned universities offering twinning programmes with private universities in Malaysia. Some universities even have their own branch campus in Malaysia, for example Monash University Malaysia, Curtin University Malaysia, University of Southampton Malaysia and Xiamen University Malaysia. To date, there are 10 international branch campuses in Malaysia.

The education sector in Malaysia is fast in fulfilling the definition of not only an industry, but also an almighty successful one. Local and international investors have increased in joining this successful industry where purportedly, there exist no recession. These investments are not only in terms of physical academic facilities, but also in terms of research and talent development.

Although some may argue that we cannot put a price on knowledge or education, we cannot deny the fact that the education sector, especially private education, is contributing to the country’s economic growth.

A report by the Department of Statistics Malaysia showed that contribution of Gross Domestic Products from private education has steadily increased since 2015 to 2018 by RM14.09bil, RM14.84bil, RM15.70bil and RM16.62bil respectively. This is a growth of value of roughly 7.7% annually. The private higher education institutions, however, claimed that the figure could go up to RM30bil by taking into consideration the investment on infrastructure and infostructure.

The Education Ministry is the biggest recipient in the 2019 Budget with an allocation of RM60.2bil, which is 19.1% of total government spending. In line with the Quadruple Helix model applied in the education sector, this allocation is for physical infrastructure, teaching and learning, research and also the community. The research and development budget has also increased from RM345mil in 2018 to RM455.35mil in 2019.

It is then, categorically right to claim that Malaysia is now a well-known and trusted education hub globally. Malaysia’s higher education has transformed from importing higher education to exporting higher education. This is not a surprising fact as we are now not only hosting 10 international branch campuses, but we are also ‘exporting’ education through franchising Malaysian academic programmes abroad via twinning programmes and joint award with international universities. The influx of foreign students coming to study in Malaysia’s public and private higher learning institutions marks a positive evolution in Malaysian education sector.

As of 2019, a total of 173 thousand international students have been recorded to be studying in Malaysia. These students are spending an average of RM30, 000 a year on tuition fees and accommodation. The higher education sector is also estimated to be contributing at least RM17bil per year to the country’s economy. This is without taking into consideration the multiplier effects on the economy of the community. Higher education in Malaysia has certainly transformed to become a significant industry as it checks in every box:

i. It is a systematic investment from the students and guardians or parents;

ii. It contributes to the technological capability and technical enhancement;

iii. It contributes to the growth of research and innovative findings and output;

iv. It acts as a mechanism in fulfilling market labour force where institutions provide training and upskilling as finishing schools; and

v. It contributes to the socio-economy of the community and also to the country’s GDP.

Benjamin Franklin once said: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Hence, looking at the positive progress that the private higher learning institutions are making, should we now lift the moratorium to allow healthy competition?

Some believe we should but on the same note, we have to take precautionary measures as we would never want to jeopardise the most important pillar in nation building simply for quantity based commercial reasons.

by DATIN PADUKA DR SITI HAMISAH TAPSIR
Read more @
https://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2019/08/18/higher-education-as-an-industry#frvXRbJW0uzu8B0y.99

Is university research good for teaching?

Thursday, August 15th, 2019
Research-inspired scholars and academics will be able to expose their students to new ideas, discoveries and knowledge through first-hand experience.

THE main role of academics at universities is to teach and do research. There are differing points of views that argue the two activities could either complement or contradict each other.

In fact, there have been allegations where academics who are too focused on research fail to bring the same level of enthusiasm to the lecture halls in their role of imparting knowledge to their students, thus affecting the quality, or bringing about a negative impact on teaching.

Associate Professor Dr Wan Zuhainis Saad, the director of the academic excellence division at the Ministry of Education’s department of higher education, noted that for academics it is very easy to quantify research work in terms of the amount of grants or number of publications, and in many promotion exercises, research outputs were given big scores.

“For young staff, the career path is very clear for promotion through research but not so in teaching. Subsequently, teaching staff will focus more on their research work and just fulfil the minimum requirements of teaching,” she pointed out.

“Research can be impactful in a positive way for teaching if researchers are able to connect their findings to the relevant courses or give opportunities to undergraduate students to participate in the research work in their labs,” Wan Zuhainis added.

But she remarked that it would be different or the other way around if researchers were doing research merely for the sake of it, with no connection to the curricula or undergraduate teaching.

THE IMPORTANCE OF RESEARCH

Being involved in research as a student will increase independence of thought, bring about a more intrinsic motivation to learn, and enable for a more active role in learning.

Professor Dr Ishak Yussof, the pro-vice chancellor (Strategy & Corporate Development) at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), said research projects bring new information and knowledge that should be shared with students.

“The traditional roles of a university are teaching and research with the aim of developing society and contributing positively to the national economic development. Thus, the function of universities apart from offering education necessary for personal development, is to provide professional training for high level jobs required by the country’s economy. It is crucial to ensure that the university’s research is being used in the teaching and learning processes,” he revealed.

Professor Mahendhiran Nair, the deputy president (Research and Development) at Monash University Malaysia, said, “Research connects us to new knowledge in the field; identifies limitations of current knowledge; informs us on what needs to be studied, re-examined and researched further; and what measures to take to overcome the limitations of current knowledge. Research is essential to update one’s knowledge base and to enable a horizon of new possibilities,” he said.

“Only research-inspired scholars or academics will be able to expose their students to new ideas, discoveries and knowledge through first-hand experience. All others are borrowed experiences and ideas.

“Furthermore, research-intensive universities across the globe are also at the forefront of innovative and creative course curriculum design and teaching pedagogy. Through their research, they will not only continuously improve their courses, but keep these courses updated in a world that is constantly changing at a rapid pace,” he divulged.

“Research is not just about extending and generating new knowledge, but it is also about solving problems and evaluating current policies and practices,” said Professor Dr Mohamad Kamal Harun, deputy vice-chancellor (Academic and International) at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM).

“Any part of research — identification of the problem, the theories, the methodology or the findings — can be teaching topics and classroom discussion points. Academics are tasked to nurture critical thinkers and innovators, thus students too must be exposed and able to dissect current problems and provide possible solutions,” he said.

RESEARCH IN THE CLASSROOM

According to Professor Dr Noorsaadah Abd Rahman, deputy vice-chancellor (Research & Innovation) at Universiti Malaya, given the right pedagogy and lesson plans, research and teaching can complement one another.

“For example, lecturers who are doing research on a particular topic would be able to formulate assignments and group work that are more hands-on and practical, hence allowing for a deeper sense of thought towards the topic rather than imparting superficial or second-hand knowledge from textbooks or references provided by third parties — such as the authors,” she pointed out.

At Universiti Malaya, in addition to research in their respective fields, Noorsaadah said lecturers are also encouraged and given support to conduct research on their own teaching practice, through a relatively small grant known as Learning Improvement & Teaching Enhancement Research (UM LITER).

“Lecturers who undertake Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (SoTL), Action Research and Educational Research, are able to use the findings from their research to update their curriculum design, improve teaching delivery and most importantly, enhance student learning,” she said.

“For a research university like UKM, it is normal to bring research to the classrooms, not only for science or technical-based subjects but also among the social sciences classes.

“For science-based subjects, it is compulsory for the students to get involved with laboratory works which are frequently closely related to research projects especially among postgraduate students. For technical subjects like engineering or IT (Information Technology), students are frequently being asked to come up with projects to produce prototypes which are also research-based,” said Ishak.

Research elements are also embedded in the teaching and learning of social science subjects.

“Students conducting surveys or undertaking special investigations on specific issues will present their findings in the classroom under close supervision by their lecturers, which is a norm among social science students.

“To strengthen and further encourage such practices, UKM has decided to award 50 per cent of the tuition fees in the form of research grants to lecturers who supervise research students. In doing so, we believe that students will benefit in terms of pioneering frontier knowledge through research activities,” he revealed.

To bring research to the classroom, Mahendhiran said traditional and didactic teaching approaches must give way to more creative and experiential learning approaches, supported by building strong fundamental knowledge to discover the truth using the best scientific methods, innovations and knowledge.

“Sound fundamental knowledge supported by experiential learning with a dash of passion and inspiration will go a long way in helping students contextualise and apply what they learn in life. It will be an excellent recipe to enrich their learning experience and quality of life,” he said.

PATHWAY CHOICES

But does this mean that academics should put more focus on research at universities?

Professor Dr Kamila Ghazali, the deputy vice-chancellor (Academic & International) at Universiti Malaya, said the institution puts equal emphasis on both teaching and research.

“We do not lose sight of one over the other as both are very important for the university and country. In terms of annual appraisals as well as the promotion exercise, research is assessed based on the output and acquisition of grants, while teaching is assessed based on student evaluations of courses taught and supervision of postgraduate students.

“Many universities including Universiti Malaya are now offering lecturers the option of building their academic careers either via Research Pathway or Teaching Pathway, where theoretically, innovative curriculum design, excellent teaching, along with impactful research in Teaching & Learning (T&L) will be assessed,” she shared.

At UiTM, four pathways are adopted in determining an academic’s career — Inspiring Educators, Accomplished Researchers, Experienced Practitioners and Institutional Leadership describe the attributes needed to be an accomplished academician.

“While they cannot be mutually exclusive, in most cases, academics tend to display some strengths over another. Researchers, for example, tend to fare better in research activities compared to institutional leadership and as such, their promotional exercises shall consider all indicators and outputs like research grants, publications, patents etc,” said Mohamad Kamal.

“However, academics who spend more time in the classroom and curriculum construction such as those in the teaching and learning track are also expected to do research in order to enhance innovation in teaching and learning.

“This also includes action research. The findings of this type of research is equally publishable and can make an impact in the teaching of the subject matter. There are many learning problems that are yet to be solved, and there are also advanced technologies bringing new challenges that require exploration and research as to how students can learn the best,” he said.

STUDENTS’ SAY

Muhammad Afiq Hariz Khatem, who is studying for a Bachelor in Business Administration Entrepreneurship at UiTM, believes that academicians who are heavily involved in research make good teachers.

But they have to be able to also focus on their students through an innovative way of communication and learning to make sure that students are well taken care of even if the lecturers have time constraints.

“For me, the best is if the academician has field work experience in the courses that they are currently teaching. The sharing of past research and being involved in research as a student would increase independence of thought, resulting in a more intrinsic motivation to learn, and a more active role in learning,” said Muhammad Afiq.

On being involved in a lecturer’s research, he said the university should set some rules on the extent of student involvement to avoid them being used unscrupulously.

“The student should have a minimal role that is based on the consensus of the students and the university, and they should also receive certain credits in terms of financial aid or other benefits in some way as they are fully committed in the research,” he said.

Ummie Carmiela Norsam, a Bachelor of Mass Communications (Honours) Public Relations student at UiTM, also shares similar concerns about time management where academic-researchers are concerned.

“Based on my experience, some of my lecturers who are doing research and teaching simultaneously, don’t really know how to use their time properly. They will come late to class or they would not show up at all. They rarely do class replacements, instead they give extra assignments which I doubt will be of benefit to students,” she said.

On being involved with the academics’ research, she said it would be a win-win situation for both parties.

“It will benefit the lecturers as they will be able to garner different perspectives from their students, and the students will most likely gain knowledge by helping their lecturers.

“However, when the lecturers main motive is only to get ideas from the students then it becomes unfair, unless the lecturer credits them in his or her research. Thus, it’s more preferable for a lecturer to focus on one thing at a time,” she opined.

Samuel Loh Yung Jian, who is pursuing a Bachelor of International and Strategic Studies at Universiti Malaya, commented that academicians at institutions of higher learning need to have exposure to research. Not only does this improve their soft skills, he said it also helps to provide knowledge and insights from a more empirical perspective.

“If my lecturers have a holistic portfolio, that enhances their ability to deliver knowledge and educate. Nonetheless, there are those who are too academic and incapable of delivering what’s needed to their targeted audience, and heavy involvement in research does increase such a risk,” he remarked.

Loh also said that being involved in a lecturer’s research is a matter of personal preference.

“Personally, I like the challenge that comes with involvement. Not only does it help me to learn new things outside of the lecture hall, it also improves my soft skills in many areas. However, depending on the course, I too prefer having lecturers that are focused on teaching — at the very least, lecturers who can make time for their students for consultations. Lecturers from my department balance that well, and I am able to meet them outside the classroom for consultations, despite their busy schedules,” he said.

Fardila Mohd Zaihidee, who is pursuing a PhD in Electrical Engineering at Universiti Malaya after obtaining a Master of Engineering (Mechatronics), is of the opinion that researchers do make good, if not better, teachers.

Research projects bring new information and knowledge that should be shared with university students.

“Every academician can teach theories to students, but only those who are involved in research can relate the theories to current scenarios and future developments in their field. Furthermore, with an in-depth understanding from their experience in research, they can provide relevant examples and analogies to further support the theories being taught,” she said.

For Fardila, hands-on activities enable her to understand theories better, which helps to generate interest in her area of study.

“As the field evolves, research activities allow me to connect the theories I have learnt to recent enhancements in that field. Involvement in research creates a more effective learning environment, where theories are applied in real-world situations.

By Rozana Sani.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/education/2019/08/512695/university-research-good-teaching

Disrupting education to become relevant

Monday, August 5th, 2019

BELIEVING that higher education is broken and not delivering on its promises and objectives, Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal, took matters into his own hands.

In order to lure highly talented young people away from pursuing their undergraduate degrees at top universities, in 2010 he announced the Thiel Fellowship. Every year since then, the Thiel Foundation offers around 20 grants of US$100, 000 (RM418, 000) each to young people to leave the best universities and use the money to work on entrepreneurial ideas rather than pursue a degree.

The Fellowship is competitive with thousands of applicants every year. Many of the Thiel Fellows give up places at universities such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University and end up being founders of companies and creators of jobs for those who completed their degrees from those very same universities.

Thiel has shown the world one way, at least, to disrupt higher education and challenge the assumption that smart young people should always pursue a degree. The question is, does education, and higher education in particular, deserve to be disrupted?

Education is one of the most important activities that contributes towards societal and economic growth and development. Traditionally, education focused on the acquisition of knowledge (Knowing) and the development of skills (Doing) while aspiring towards the inculcation of desirable attitudes and behaviours (Being), alas with varying degrees of success for a third of those.

In the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, two increasing trends are shedding doubt on the value of conventional education. These are:

1. Access to information and knowledge is instantaneous and widely available; and

2. The connection between human skills and employability is being challenged, with machines being able to perform many of the human tasks, from balancing the books to diagnosing diseases, better than human professionals.

For education to remain relevant, it needs to disrupt itself and assert its position within society. One way to achieve this, in my opinion, is to evolve from “Education” to “Positive Education.” Besides knowledge and skills, Positive Education affirms its role in the development of emotional well-being and positive behaviours and attitudes among learners. It goes beyond teaching to preparing individuals to have influence and positive impact on the world. So, while conventional education is about Knowing, Doing and, somehow, Being, Positive Education is about Knowing, Doing, Being…and also Inspiring others and having a positive Impact.

Positive Education is a simple idea. However, we should not confuse simple with easy. To build an education system that declares the creation of impactful graduates as its objective is very challenging. This will entail the formation of a whole community that is committed to supporting students to flourish, and providing them with personalised growth experiences, focusing on building emotionally intelligent, resilient and happy graduates.

At Heriot-Watt University Malaysia, we do this through two main initiatives, the HappierU initiative and the EmPOWER Programme.

HappierU (the U here is both of You and University) is a university-wide initiative to align the community to the 10 Keys for happier living identified by psychologist Vanessa King. These keys are: Giving, Relating, Exercising, Awareness, Trying-out, Direction, Resilience, Emotions, Acceptance, Meaning. HappierU is intended at building a flourishing community of students and staff where everyone is supported by, and being supportive of, others so that we can all achieve our full potential. Positive Education is not the sole provenance of academics; HappierU is led by students and staff from both in and out of the classroom – all play a key role in delivering our goals which we measure with a Happiness Index.

EmPOWER is a structured programme that is aimed at positively transforming the mindsets of students, developing intentional and purposeful learners who are aware of their own strengths, emotions, and opportunities for growth.

A key element of the first level is the development of an “Impact Statement.” This is a concise statement describing how the students use their unique capabilities and the knowledge and skills they acquire in their respective course of study to make the world a better place, while achieving their professional goals.

by PROF MUSHTAK AL-ATABI
Read more @
https://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2019/08/04/disrupting-education-to-become-relevant#HhtlGqfmSHjkqGdH.99

Three more varsities get premier tech status

Monday, August 5th, 2019
Professor Dr Mohd Saleh Jaafar (10th from right) and Surina Shukri (centre) with representatives of higher-learning institutions at the Premier Digital Tech Institutions and Strategic Partners award ceremony in Cyberjaya. PIC BY SAIFULLIZAN TAMADI.

DIGITAL disruption is creating new job opportunities and changing the way we work. The World Economic Forum predicts that 65 per cent of students today will be working in jobs that have yet to be defined, and most of them will require digital skills.

Now, more than ever, the country needs to equip its youth with the right skill sets and mindset to ensure that they remain relevant. Recently, HELP University, Islamic International University Malaysia (IIUM) and Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman have been recognised as Premier Digital Tech Institutions, joining 13 others with the same status.

This initiative is jointly developed by the Education Ministry and Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) to produce top talents and future leaders in digital technology

Premier Digital Tech Institutions provide an optimum ecosystem in preparing graduates to meet industry demand. Institutions applying for the recognition have to undergo meticulous assessments to ensure that they provide quality tech education and facilities.

According to IIUM Kulliyyah of Information Technology Student Affairs deputy dean Mohd Syarqawy Hamzah, MDEC has set a high standard, which does not only look into the courses offered and student achievements, but also the support given by the university.

It includes those provided by IIUM’s Counselling and Career Services Centre, which not only offers career advice, but also builds relationships with the industry and organise events to benefit them and its students.

For HELP University, the recognition and status will boost its mission to produce self-directing graduates, who can master new skills efficiently.

Prior to being recognised, HELP University had to undergo intensive assessments by an auditing team comprising representatives from the industry, Higher Education Department and MDEC.

“We endeavour to instill in our students the attitude and values to prepare them for a lifetime of continuous learning and leadership,” said Faculty of Computing and Digital Technology dean Dr Sien Ven Yu.

“Our close links with the industry have enabled us to introduce an innovative series of final-year projects and internship programmes, which are supervised by practising IT professionals. This arrangement not only offer students valuable work experience, but also provide them with specific knowledge and specialised skills.”

At the recent award ceremony, Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said Premier Digital Tech Institutions would ensure that Malaysians were proficient in data analytics, artificial intelligence, robotics and digital marketing.

“Talent is key for Malaysia to succeed in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0). It is critical that we prepare local talents for future jobs,” he said in his speech read out by Private Institution of Higher Learning deputy director-general Professor Dr Mohd Saleh Jaafar.

MDEC chief executive officer Surina Shukri said the corporation was a strong proponent of public-private partnerships, and this Premier Digital Tech Institutions initiative was a great example of how such alliances could powerfully impact the growth of Malaysia’s digital economy.

Blending of tertiary and TVET focus for SEAMEO

Monday, August 5th, 2019
Maszlee Malik (fourth from left), Professor Dr Muhadjir Effendy (third from left) and Professor Dr Phung Xuan Nha (second from right) with other delegates at the 50th SEAMEO Council Conference at Sunway Resort and Spa Hotel, Bandar Sunway. NSTP/Aziah Azmee

THE harmonisation of higher education and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) among Southeast Asian countries must be improved. While great strides had been made in the area, Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said more must be done to implement better processes, systems, frameworks, laws and policies across the region.

“An increased growth in intra Southeast Asia collaboration among universities, international mobility within and beyond Southeast Asia, as well as knowledge exchanges between member countries and other international organisations such as European Union (EU) to tackle global challenges, have benefitted the region tremendously.

“In the pursuance of a common regional higher education area, we need to find consensus for solutions that are amicable and flexible enough to be adapted across the regional spectrum,” he said in his maiden remarks as the newly appointed Southeast Asia Ministers of Education Organisation (SEAMEO) Council president.

“Maybe, we need to start thinking about providing a regional research grant akin to the Erasmus plus (Erasmus) funding programme under EU to support research activities and knowledge exchange. Maybe we should come up with SEAMEO.

“We need to give greater support for lecturer and student mobility by broadening opportunities for participation in mobility scholarship schemes. This should become embodied in Southeast Asia higher education thinking, underpinned by agreed frameworks for qualification and quality assurance, and a flexible credit transfer scheme, thereby boosting the future development of the regional higher education and socioeconomic area.”

He was speaking at the 50th SEAMEO Council Conference (SEAMEC) in Kuala Lumpur last week. At the conference, he was elected and appointed as the SEAMEO Council president for 2019-2021, succeeding Indonesia Education and Culture Minister Professor Dr Muhadjir Effendy.

Maszlee said mobility was important not only for students, but also professors and lecturers to broaden their horizons.

“I think when you get exposed to countries which are not your own, you get to know cultures and people, and gain new knowledge and with that, you appreciate the differences more rather than have prejudices.

“I think that is the first step towards mutual recognition and respect among Asean countries. That is the only way forward.”

Vietnam Education and Training Minister Professor Dr Phung Xuan Nha said the country prioritised higher education cooperation and mobility programmes.

“We encourage our students to study in Asean countries. We are receiving more and more students in Vietnam through joint training programmes with Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.

“We also pay attention to higher education pathways through two-plus-one degree programmes with Asean universities. Through these programmes, students will understand more about Asean labour markets so that after graduation, they can work anywhere in the region.”

Muhadjir said Indonesia was preparing a memorandum of understanding with Malaysia, focusing on higher education and “it would be completed real soon”.

“We are working together for exchange programmes for teachers and students, particularly in the vocational teaching experience.”

The 50th SEAMEC lasted for four days and was attended by education ministers, high-level government education officials and representatives from all 11 SEAMEO member countries, associate members, affiliate members, SEAMEO regional centres and strategic partners.

By Rozana Sani.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/education/2019/07/508624/blending-tertiary-and-tvet-focus-seameo

Don’t mind the gap

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019
Mohd Nidzam Adzha during one of his activities at the Pusat Sinar Harapan in Jitra, Kedah.

IN September 2017, the then Higher Education Ministry introduced the Gap Year programme to allow undergraduates from Malaysian Public Universities to take a year, or two semesters, off from their formal education to engage in volunteer activities.

An initiative under Shift 1 (Holistic, Entrepreneurial and Balanced Graduates) of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (Higher Education), there are three streams of the Gap Year programme which are Gap Year National Service Volunteerism, Gap Year Volunteerism, and Gap Year (General).

The Gap Year National Service Volunteerism provides opportunities for students to join the Malaysian Armed Forces, Royal Malaysia Police and Civil Defence Department for nine months, while Gap Year Volunteerism allows students to work with government or non-governmental agencies focusing on volunteerism and community activities such as in literacy tutoring, disaster management, youth work, and human and refugee relief.

The third stream enables students to engage actively in activities that interest them. It covers a broader range of activities including work, sports, travel, and others.

Since its introduction, some students from public universities have taken the opportunity to participate in the programme. Higher Ed spoke to three students who have completed their gap year programmes and shared their experiences during that period of time.

BUILDING CONFIDENCE

While most of her university friends continued with their studies, Noraim Deraman, 25, was determined to take a nine-month break from her studies at Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) to join the Gap Year National Service programme in September 2017.

“From my understanding, ‘Gap Year’ means the time frame that exists within a certain period that is used to perform activities unrelated to the course of study.

“The Gap Year is more focused on how we apply the knowledge we have in the working environment. If at university we only learnt, created, and shared among our peers, this time around we did so with different age groups, living standards, cultural and social layers,” she revealed.

Initially she was rather sceptical at the prospect of not being able to graduate along with her coursemates, but she decided that the experience gained would help her fit in better when she enters the working world.

“I wanted to explore new things so I’m better prepared for the future, and what was more important was that my family approved and accepted all my decisions,” she said.

The Bachelor of Science (Decision Science) undergraduate said it all began upon her completing three-year training as an officer with the Reserve Officers Training Unit (Palapes). She said this is a requirement for Gap Year National Service with the Armed Forces.

“I chose to join the Gap Year National Service programme in collaboration with the then Ministry of Higher Education by enlisting with the army. This saw her being placed with the Rejimen 515 Askar Wataniah, the military reserve force of the Malaysian Army — the Territorial Army.

“During the programme, I pushed myself to try new things, especially involving work that requires us to interact with the community.

“So I managed to build my confidence and do lots of things because I have a desire to learn.

The Gap Year National Service programme runs for nine months. “I learnt a lot of things and gained so much experience thanks to the programme. One thing’s for sure though, you have to be open-minded, confident and proactive as well. I am able to control my emotions if my suggestions or views are inadequate for a particular situation.”

Among the challenges she had to face was knowing how to deal with senior military personnel.

“I have no issues when dealing with peers of the same age because we can talk as friends, but I also needed to know how to engage with those who are older. Another challenge I faced was when researching on the Territorial Army. I had to collect data on society knowledge and make an analysis of the study,” she said.

Noraim stressed that volunteering for Gap Year is not coercion but a personal willingness and desire to explore the world. “By the end of the programme, most of my university friends were impressed as I managed to successfully complete my Gap Year.

She continued, “By taking the Gap Year, I learnt to better control my emotions, and learnt how to fit in for certain situations, growing to be more mature in thought and action.

“Today, I am a more confident person thanks to the experience and time with the Territorial Army, where I also learnt to cope with various challenges from society.

“Do not let your weakness be a barrier, instead, use it as a source of strength and as a challenge to become successful.”

Noraim just completed her industrial training last month and is now looking forward to her convocation in October.

HANDS-ON

UUM counselling undergraduate Azzarina Mohammad Shukor, 23, joined Gap Year Volunteerism under the Volunteer to Institution (V2i) programme in collaboration with the Welfare Department for three months in June 2017, which saw her being placed with the Rumah Seri Kenangan in Cheras.

“I gained valuable experience by managing old folks, by exploring their thoughts and feelings. They actually want nothing but attention, love, and friends to chat with. This is good for my future career as a counsellor.

“For example, if I want to conduct any counselling sessions with senior citizens, I now have the necessary experience to help them,” she said.

Azzarina, who has had to deal with a health issue said that the experience gained in taking care of the elderly has, in turn, helped her in dealing with her own self-esteem issues; and her level of confidence has risen.

During her volunteering stint, she also managed to shed four kilogrammes.

“It’s been a long time coming, but for me, it has always been because of a lack of motivation. But after seeing the fate of the elderly at the old folks home, who are mostly ill or ignored by their families, I’m more motivated than ever to be healthy.

“After the programme, I continued to practice healthy eating habits and exercise. I managed to lose 20kg in just four months,” she shared.

“However, I also faced various challenges. For example, prior to that, during every semester break, I would work. But under the programme, I did volunteer work where I was not paid and had to use my own money.

“The second challenge was to serve and care for the elderly as best as I could, while staying calm and patient with them.”

Azzarina hopes that other university students will participate in such programmes as she believes that the experience gained will make them more resilient while enhancing their survival skills. It would also get them out of their comfort zones because they have to adapt to new environments and surroundings.

EXPOSURE

Another UUM undergraduate, Mohd Nidzam Adzha Abdul Razak, 21, began his Gap Year experience as a volunteer just this month under the V2i programme as well. He said the programme focuses on the community which requires individuals or groups to carry out activities at selected organisations for three months during their semester break.

The Bachelor of Operations Management undergraduate said that even though he has just begun volunteering, he has already gained in terms of experience that has so far benefitted him in carrying out voluntary activities.

“Before this, the charity and volunteer work that I did was limited to what was being done on campus at my university through various clubs and associations.

“I hope to improve my knowledge in the field of volunteerism under this programme and hope it will become a valuable experience in the future. Who knows, I might end up organising my own community activities,” he said.

For the next three months, Nidzam will be placed with Pusat Sinar Harapan in Jitra, Kedah, which houses disabled children.

He added that among the traits he has acquired is enhancing social networking, as he has to deal with professionals such as physiotherapists, childcare specialists and the administrators of the home.

“Through my exposure with different professionals, I am able to gain valuable knowledge and experience that is not readily available from the university, such as caring for the disabled and how to manage a childcare centre.

“In addition, through such activities, I became exposed firsthand to the less fortunate and a genuine affection for them was nurtured. Before this, I knew little about caring for children with disabilities. But once I got involved in the programme, I got to mingle with them and learnt how to administer proper care while being compassionate at the same time,” he said.

Additionally, he said the programme helped him improve his communication skills and to better interact in the working environment.

No experience comes without having to face challenges , and the same goes for Nidzam.

“I have to use my own pocket money to cover my travel expenses and food costs. I travel to and fro from the centre for some 60km every day. With the busy traffic, this is another challenge to stay cautious while travelling,” he said.

He said they are required to implement at least two activities for the residents.

“We are not provided with any financial allocation for any activity, and we are only allowed to use equipment available at the centre. Therefore, I have to be creative and make full use of the tools available.”

Despite initial protests from his family, Nidzam managed to convince them of the benefits of the Gap Year programme, and they accepted his decision, even encouraging him subsequently.

“It was the same for some of my coursemates, who initially felt that this kind of programme would be a waste of their time. But they did not know much about the gap year then. However, after they saw my experience through social media, they got interested and regretted not joining me.

“My advice for those who want to participate in this programme is to prepare yourselves mentally and physically because in carrying out volunteer activities, things may extend beyond what you expected.

CHALLENGES

Dr Hendrik Lamsali, UUM’s deputy vice-chancellor (Student Affairs & Alumni), said that since the programme started in September 2017, two of their students have participated in the Gap Year National Services with the Territorial Army.

“At the beginning, we had six undergraduates who applied for the Gap Year National Service, but then after speaking to their parents, most of them decided to withdraw.

“For this year, there are another two students who will be completing their programmes next month.

“Another student completed her Gap Year (General) with the Roar of the Hopes Organisation, a non-governmental organisation that focuses on poverty,” he said, adding that UUM is the only university participating in the Gap Year National Services for 2018-2019.

Hendrik said the Gap Year National Service programme was less favoured by the students; many opted for the Gap Year Volunteerism programme instead which lasts for just three months.

“Students are more willing to participate in Gap Year Volunteerism as they worry that they will finish their studies later than their friends. This perception has to be changed as we want them to develop a culture of volunteerism and a sense of patriotism, apart from gaining experience through the programme, which most of their friends will not have by the end of their degree programme,” he said.

According to Associate Professor Dr Raja Zuraidah Raja Mohd Rasi, Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia’s (UTHM) director of the Marketing and Corporate Communications Office, the programme was first introduced at their university in 2017.

Raja Zuraidah said under the programme, UTHM had been chosen as a pioneer university to offer Gap Year Volunteerism in collaboration with the Department of Social Welfare. However, the response from students was lukewarm, mainly due to a lack of awareness on the benefits of the programme.

“We also found out that support from parents was lacking as they were not confident enough to permit their children to leave campus for a long period of time to be a part of the programme.

“In this regard, the university took several initiatives to overcome such obstacles, among others, by introducing the V2i programme as early exposure for the Gap Year programme.

“The V2i programme is in collaboration with the Welfare Department and it has attracted a great deal of students which has ensured the success of the programme.

“We have also started awareness campaigns on the Gap Year Programme to ensure clear information about the programme reaches the students,” she said.

Raja Zuraidah said there are two major benefits of the Gap Year Programme — academic and personal. By taking part in the programme, students will be inculcated with patriotism, unity and compassion, apart from responsibility, which only serves to add to the experience and knowledge that helps broaden minds.

“During the transition time of the gap year, students will also have the opportunity to reflect and explore different career paths and other learning opportunities. The Gap Year programme is an alternative path to help students become mature with a good sense of purpose,” Raja Zuraidah said.

To date, about 100 students have joined the V2i programme.

IMPROVEMENTS

In order to improve on the Gap Year programme, Raja Zuraidah said the university should include the programme as part of the structure of their course modules.

“One way is to offer a tuition-free year for students who wish to do the Gap Year programme, or financial assistance to fund students’ activities. For example, Florida State University and the University of North Carolina will consider providing financial assistance for students who apply for a gap-year programme,” she said, adding that the students and their parents have to change their misconception about joining the programme.

Her colleague, Dr Elmy Johana Mohamad, head of the university’s corporate communications department, also agrees that a gap year offers students the opportunity to explore other interests and gain valuable experiences which fundamentally improves them to become better persons.

“It helps to empower students with the kind of motivation and purpose that can enhance their entire learning experience at university.

By Zulita Mustafa.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/education/2019/07/508626/dont-mind-gap

Dealing with academic integrity

Wednesday, July 10th, 2019
The research supervisor should inculcate a culture of academic honesty in students, which is paramount to success and credibility as a postgraduate student.

AT a recent education forum in Kuala Lumpur, former international trade and industry minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz was quoted as saying that it would be better for university academics to miss key performance indicators than to ride on their postgraduate students’ work.

This has given rise to heated discussions about academic integrity in local universities, particularly on unethical practices like exploitation, plagiarism and stealing of students’ work by academics.

If left unchecked, many opined that the integrity and reputation of the country’s universities and education institutions might end up at stake.

Public universities had come forward by reiterating their commitment to uphold academic integrity by ensuring that their research publications were free of plagiarism and not exploited by free-loaders.

Malaysia Public Universities Vice-Chancellor/Rector Committee chairman Professor Datuk Dr Nor Aieni Mokhtar said all public universities took unethical practices seriously, in which all academicians were responsible for upholding the highest standard of honesty at all times.

“Any reports made to the management of the universities shall be thoroughly investigated according to the rules and procedures of the universities,” she said, adding that public universities would not compromise on misconduct.

If academics were proven to be involved, stern action would be taken based on the Statutory Bodies (Discipline and Surcharge) Act 2000 (Act 605).

“These rules and regulations serve as guiding principles for academicians on the ethics of research and publication, including those concerning supervisor-student publications,” said Nor Aeni, who is Universiti Malaysia Terengganu vice-chancellor.

Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) viewed such unethical practices seriously and it would not hesitate to take firm action against its staff and students involved.

Its vice-chancellor, Professor Datuk Dr Aini Ideris said UPM had a complaints channel ― the U-Response System that could be accessed by everybody.

“The system is monitored on a daily basis, and every complaint is reviewed carefully and attended to promptly,” she said.

Complaints could be mailed or emailed directly to the vice-chancellor or the appropriate university officer. Aini said cases received through these channels would be investigated, and action would be taken.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) vice-chancellor Professor Datuk Dr Wahid Omar said UTM had a reliable and proven system to ensure that its academic integrity was protected.

“Any complaints regarding integrity, including academic integrity, will be handled by a special committee called Jawatankuasa Integriti dan Tadbir Urus (JITU), which is now known as the Jawatankuasa Anti-Rasuah (JAR).

“JAR is given the power by the university to investigate independently and fairly based on international standards in integrity cases, including plagiarism and copyright infringement in magazines, journals or thesis,” he said.

Through its Research Management Centre, UTM has provided a platform for academic staff and researchers to record their publication information, whether they are the main writer, co-writer or others, and this information may be referenced by staff and students.

Since 2012, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) has established a plagiarism policy under the purview of its Academic Affairs Division, which it defines as the forgery of individual contributions among members who collaborated in a group project.

It also made it compulsory for academics and students to use the Turnitin app to measure the plagiarism level in their writings to ensure that no reinterpretation activity/writing of students by other parties was done without consent.

“At the same time, students can come forward and report any academic offence committed at the faculty, university or top management,” said UiTM vice-chancellor Professor Emeritus Dr Mohd Azraai Kassim.

Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM) has its own process of regulating every research and publication activity on campus.

“From grant application to the final stage of research, the process is regulated. It includes respecting research subjects, using research funds prudently and recognising all parties involved,” said its vice-chancellor Professor Dr Wahid Razzaly.

“In order to qualify in the author’s list, researchers are required to give credit and recognition to individuals who contributed significantly in the project,” he added.

Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP) would be setting up a Special Committee on Academic Integrity to identify and investigate academic cases, whether they were related to plagiarism or document counterfeiting.

UniMAP vice-chancellor Professor Dr R. Badlishah Ahmad said the universities would not compromise on academicians who committed academic offences.

He said scholars and intellectuals must have a high level of integrity and, therefore, should not violate ethics and the trust placed upon them.

“I will not hesitate to take decisive action if such an event occurs in the UniMAP environment as they (academicians) are community leaders, and should set a good example for students,” he said.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s (UKM) Integrity Unit had been fully empowered to take action if there were reports of misconduct.

UKM vice-chancellor Professor Dr Mohd Hamdi Abd Shukor said every report submitted would be forwarded directly to the university senate to avoid unfairness or staff intervention.

“UKM has recently approved the Whistleblower Policy to protect those who provide information. It has a formal complaints channel (UKM Feedback and Complaint System ― eFACT) for students and staff to report wrongdoings,” he said.

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak vice-chancellor Professor Datuk Dr Mohamad Kadim Suaidi said the publication of papers in indexed or high-impact journals by postgraduates was fundamental as they represented a special population within the research and intellectual community.

“In universities, postgraduate students are required to publish papers with their supervisors as co-authors. Determining authorship credit can be difficult and it can complicate the supervisor-student relationship. Therefore, this issue deserves to be explored and students, indeed, should not be forced to co-author their papers with supervisors.

“The postgraduate study supervision process involves a thorough and systematic process, which signifies the contributions of the supervisor in the student’s work. Thus, it is quite a misleading statement to claim that supervisors should not be considered in the authorship of the postgraduate students’ research if all requirements have been substantially fulfilled.

By Rozana Sani

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/education/2019/07/503138/dealing-academic-integrity