Archive for the ‘Colleges / Universities - Issues’ Category

Students look East for a wider perspective, global viewpoint

Sunday, September 23rd, 2018
Malaysian students at Wuhan University pose at the Malaysian Booth at the International Culture Festival to promote the nation’s cultures, costumes and cuisine.

STUDY destinations in Japan and China have seen an increasing number of enrolments from Malaysian higher education students these past few years.

Their affordable fees, the similarity in society and culture, as well as excellence in education and research attract students by the hordes.

There is also an opportunity to master languages such as Mandarin or Japanese during their stay in the countries.

High world university rankings also contribute to the trend. Japan, for instance, has nine universities in the top 200 QS World University Rankings 2017.

A large number of Chinese universities in China are also recognised by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency. These include Beijing University, Renmin University of China, Tsinghua University, Beijing Jiaotong University and Beijing University of Science and Technology.

Malaysian students who are interested in furthering their higher education studies in Japan are advised to prepare at least nine months to one year in advance.

Embassy of Japan in Malaysia education attache Sentaro Ishikawa said once students decide to pursue their studies in the Land of the Rising Sun, they will need to research into their choice of programme.

“Take note of application dates and the standardised admission tests as well as admission procedures,” added Ishikawa.

The application period for April 2019 intake is from June through November 2018.

“For courses beginning in September, the application period is usually from December of the previous year through February.”

The student selection for university admission in Japan is a process in which universities independently decide the enrolment through the entrance examination uniquely set by each institution.

The process varies depending on the applicant’s school of choice and the entrance exam commonly consists of one test or a combination such as test of academic ability, interview, short essay, competence and aptitude tests, and Examination for Japanese University (EJU) Examination (evaluates international students’ Japanese language and academic abilities to study at a higher education institution in Japan).

“Students sit the entrance exam by applying directly to the university of their choice and they are advised to check the school’s Application Guideline for International Students for the latest update.”

PATHWAYS

There are three pathways for Malaysian students to further higher education in Japan.

Those with 12 years of formal education and who are proficient in English can apply for Japanese undergraduate courses offered in English.

Sentaro Ishikawa counselling a potential student on choosing a tertiary institution in Japan.

“They have to submit a certificate of proficiency in English (IELTS/TOEFL), a certificate of academic achievement, scores of a high school graduation standardised examination in the home country and short essays in English in the first round of screening of applications.

“The second round comprises an interview, which will either be conducted in the country or region where applicants live or via an online interview.

“Those who are proficient in Japanese can apply to sit the EJU Examination and apply for Japanese undergraduate courses offered in Japanese.

“Japanese universities especially the national-type institutions usually conduct their primary assessment of potential international students based on EJU Examination scores,” added Ishikawa.

Malaysian students, who have no knowledge of the Japanese language but wish to apply for a course conducted in Japanese, have to study the language for at least a year in one of the designated Japanese language institutes before applying for admission into higher education institutions in Japan.

“Those who have less than 12 years of formal education are required to do at least a year of University Preparatory Course (or pre-university programme), inclusive of learning the Japanese language at institutes designated by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT, also known as Monbukagakusho) Japan to be eligible to apply for admission into universities in the country.

“Only 25 Japanese language institutes offer the University Preparatory Course. One is located at Kuala Lumpur, the rest are in Japan.”

THREE CHOICES

University of Malaya’s Special Preparatory Programme to Japan is one of the sponsored courses which send students to study in the country, .

Programme coordinator Mohd Norhaswira Hasan said the course aims to equip students with a basic education in Japanese and three core subjects of science — mathematics, physics and chemistry.

Upon completing the programme, they will further their studies at select Japanese universities.

Students are assisted in the selection of university from a list provided by MEXT.

This selection and application process take place in October, and the results are announced in February.

Students will then make their selection (three choices of university and course) in October. In early November, they sit EJU.

The EJU results, which are announced in January, determine the university the student will enrolling in February.

Mohd Norhaswira, who is an alumnus of the Special Preparatory Programme to Japan, said he applied for the course because of his interest in the Japanese language.

He started learning Japanese as his third foreign language from Form One.

“I was motivated by my Japanese language teacher, Zubaidah Ali, during my early years in secondary school,” said Mohd Norhaswira, who studied mechanical engineering at Nagoya University and graduated in March 2007.

GLOBAL OUTLOOK

As Japanese universities have become more globalised, there are emerging programmes at universities and graduate schools where students can obtain a degree by taking classes entirely in English.

The number of Malaysian students who pursue courses offered in English at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels is increasing over the years.

“Of course, they also have the chance to learn Japanese at the university. Therefore, they gain a significant advantage, especially if they wish to work in Japan after graduation.

“Over the years, more companies in Japan are hiring international students with diverse backgrounds, who understand Japanese language and culture.

By Zulita Mustafa.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/education/2018/09/412854/students-look-east-wider-perspective-global-viewpoint

Ombudsmen needed in varsities

Friday, September 21st, 2018
(File pix) Graduands at the Al-Madinah International University convocation in Shah Alam. Every university administrator must be concerned about the reputational risk from complaints going public. Pix by Faiz Anuar
ACCORDING to the 2017 statistics from the Higher Education Ministry, there are 25,823 international students in public universities in Malaysia. This number does not include the number of enrolments in private colleges and diploma centres.

The complaint handling policy in the education sector for students is contained in the code of practice for programme accreditation, which, in paragraph 4.4.1, states: “There must be a mechanism for students to air grievances and make appeals relating to student support services.”

The complaint handling and dispute resolution policy in the education sector falls short of global best practices.

Academic staff are required to deliver quality teaching. When the service is perceived to be inadequate by a student, he should have the right to complain to the lecturer, head of department or the dean of faculty.

Similarly, academic and nonacademic staff may have reasons to complain about the terms of service. Grievances without appropriate channel to direct them can jeopardise the performance of academic staff, and affect productivity and research output.

The offices of legal advisers or student affairs are the easiest channels to lodge complaints in most universities, but the personnel are rarely seen to be independent and neutral.

Quality control and feedback me chanisms are not the same as having an ombudsman. Feedback mechanism serves the purpose of assessing quality services, while an ombudsman would provide a wider scope for grievance and complaint handling. An ombudsman is seen as independent, impartial and fair.

Confidentiality of information is key. Sexual harassment and misconduct cases involving academics are handled with extreme confidence under ombudsman procedures. Only in rare instances are cases taken to the court. Ombudsman policy can help fix this.

The lack of specific policy direction for university ombudsman implies that stakeholders have options either to do nothing or to do whatever pleases the university.

It is interesting to note that despite the absence of a policy on this issue, Universiti Sains Malaysia and Monash University deem it necessary to have ombudsman offices for grievance handling in line with international best practices.

In 2012, USM created the ombudsman office as a platform for the university’s staff and undergraduates to voice their dissatisfaction on issues. While this is encouraging, it seems that no other public university has seen the need to establish an ombudsman office to handle complaints effectively. The university also leverages this internal policy to protect whistle-blowers.

Realising the gap in grievance handling policy, Monash University in Malaysia made ombudsman procedures operational. The Education Ministry may want to explore this for introduction in other universities in the country.

In Malaysia, although the Public Complaint Bureau (PCB) performs a similar role to the ombudsman, it lacks speciality, independence and transparency, which are essential for the education sector. In addition, for a sector comprising both private and public entities, it is necessary to detach university complaints from PCB.

International best practices in the United States, Canada and New Zealand show that the notion of a public officer for all kinds of complaints is becoming a thing of the past. Ombudsman has become the new face of complaint handling in public, quasi-public and private sectors in many parts of the world, and Malaysia should not be an exception.

Young people find it very easy to complain over the social media on issues which may be capable of resolution by the ombudsman.

University ombudsman with online accessibility or mobile app could be an attractive and user-friendly option for young university students.

Every university administrator must be concerned about the reputational risk from complaints going public. The number of foreign students seeking admission may also be affected in the absence of a clear policy on complaint handling.

To avoid lengthy and cumbersome litigation process, a university ombudsman could be tailormade to suit the nature of complaints peculiar to the sector.

This underlines the need for a clear policy for uniform complaint handling among stakeholders in the education sector.

The policy document is only a framework for complaint handling in the university and could mandate every university in Malaysia to establish an office of ombudsman, which must be separate and independent of the legal adviser’s office.

The ombudsman’s office and its head must uphold independence, neutrality, confidentiality and fairness. The policy must not exclude the right of the complainant from proceeding to court as a last resort.

By Dr Sodiq Omoola.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2018/09/412777/ombudsmen-needed-varsities

Students look East for a wider perspective, global viewpoint

Friday, September 21st, 2018
Malaysian students at Wuhan University pose at the Malaysian Booth at the International Culture Festival to promote the nation’s cultures, costumes and cuisine.

STUDY destinations in Japan and China have seen an increasing number of enrolments from Malaysian higher education students these past few years.

Their affordable fees, the similarity in society and culture, as well as excellence in education and research attract students by the hordes.

There is also an opportunity to master languages such as Mandarin or Japanese during their stay in the countries.

High world university rankings also contribute to the trend. Japan, for instance, has nine universities in the top 200 QS World University Rankings 2017.

A large number of Chinese universities in China are also recognised by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency. These include Beijing University, Renmin University of China, Tsinghua University, Beijing Jiaotong University and Beijing University of Science and Technology.

Malaysian students who are interested in furthering their higher education studies in Japan are advised to prepare at least nine months to one year in advance.

Embassy of Japan in Malaysia education attache Sentaro Ishikawa said once students decide to pursue their studies in the Land of the Rising Sun, they will need to research into their choice of programme.

“Take note of application dates and the standardised admission tests as well as admission procedures,” added Ishikawa.

The application period for April 2019 intake is from June through November 2018.

“For courses beginning in September, the application period is usually from December of the previous year through February.”

The student selection for university admission in Japan is a process in which universities independently decide the enrolment through the entrance examination uniquely set by each institution.

The process varies depending on the applicant’s school of choice and the entrance exam commonly consists of one test or a combination such as test of academic ability, interview, short essay, competence and aptitude tests, and Examination for Japanese University (EJU) Examination (evaluates international students’ Japanese language and academic abilities to study at a higher education institution in Japan).

“Students sit the entrance exam by applying directly to the university of their choice and they are advised to check the school’s Application Guideline for International Students for the latest update.”

PATHWAYS

There are three pathways for Malaysian students to further higher education in Japan.

Those with 12 years of formal education and who are proficient in English can apply for Japanese undergraduate courses offered in English.

Sentaro Ishikawa counselling a potential student on choosing a tertiary institution in Japan.

“They have to submit a certificate of proficiency in English (IELTS/TOEFL), a certificate of academic achievement, scores of a high school graduation standardised examination in the home country and short essays in English in the first round of screening of applications.

“The second round comprises an interview, which will either be conducted in the country or region where applicants live or via an online interview.

“Those who are proficient in Japanese can apply to sit the EJU Examination and apply for Japanese undergraduate courses offered in Japanese.

“Japanese universities especially the national-type institutions usually conduct their primary assessment of potential international students based on EJU Examination scores,” added Ishikawa.

Malaysian students, who have no knowledge of the Japanese language but wish to apply for a course conducted in Japanese, have to study the language for at least a year in one of the designated Japanese language institutes before applying for admission into higher education institutions in Japan.

“Those who have less than 12 years of formal education are required to do at least a year of University Preparatory Course (or pre-university programme), inclusive of learning the Japanese language at institutes designated by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT, also known as Monbukagakusho) Japan to be eligible to apply for admission into universities in the country.

“Only 25 Japanese language institutes offer the University Preparatory Course. One is located at Kuala Lumpur, the rest are in Japan.”

THREE CHOICES

University of Malaya’s Special Preparatory Programme to Japan is one of the sponsored courses which send students to study in the country, .

Programme coordinator Mohd Norhaswira Hasan said the course aims to equip students with a basic education in Japanese and three core subjects of science — mathematics, physics and chemistry.

Upon completing the programme, they will further their studies at select Japanese universities.

Students are assisted in the selection of university from a list provided by MEXT.

This selection and application process take place in October, and the results are announced in February.

Students will then make their selection (three choices of university and course) in October. In early November, they sit EJU.

The EJU results, which are announced in January, determine the university the student will enrolling in February.

Mohd Norhaswira, who is an alumnus of the Special Preparatory Programme to Japan, said he applied for the course because of his interest in the Japanese language.

He started learning Japanese as his third foreign language from Form One.

“I was motivated by my Japanese language teacher, Zubaidah Ali, during my early years in secondary school,” said Mohd Norhaswira, who studied mechanical engineering at Nagoya University and graduated in March 2007.

GLOBAL OUTLOOK

As Japanese universities have become more globalised, there are emerging programmes at universities and graduate schools where students can obtain a degree by taking classes entirely in English.

The number of Malaysian students who pursue courses offered in English at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels is increasing over the years.

“Of course, they also have the chance to learn Japanese at the university. Therefore, they gain a significant advantage, especially if they wish to work in Japan after graduation.

“Over the years, more companies in Japan are hiring international students with diverse backgrounds, who understand Japanese language and culture.

By Zulita Mustafa.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/education/2018/09/412854/students-look-east-wider-perspective-global-viewpoint

Campus elections now in the hands of student bodies.

Monday, September 17th, 2018

PETALING JAYA: Procedures for campus elections are to be revised to ensure the elections would be carried out in a transparent and independent manner by Student Representative Councils (MPP), without interference from their university’s management and authority.

A meeting between the Education Ministry’s Department of Higher Education, Student Affairs Office and law officers of public universities – chaired by the ministry’s Department of Higher Education director-general Datin Dr Siti Hamisah Tapsir – concluded that giving MPPs the freedom to carry out their respective campus elections would empower students to choose a right leader who would champion their rights and aspirations.

“However, the MPPs are still required to comply with the current constitution, rules and laws when carrying out their respective campus elections.

“The management of universities are to assist their respective MPPs by providing infrastructure and guidelines on the elections,” the ministry said in a statement issued yesterday.

“The ministry believes that giving autonomy to MPPs is beneficial and can encourage students to be proactive and responsible,” it said.


Read more @
https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/09/16/campus-elections-now-in-the-hands-of-student-bodies/#RzP6KQk5UGo0MfzT.99

Are double degrees worth it?

Wednesday, September 12th, 2018
Pursuing a double degree course involves studying for two degrees at the same time and completing both in a shorter duration than it will take to complete one after another.

THE purpose of a university education is to gain the appropriate knowledge and skills in a certain field of study leading to a recognised qualification that will pave the way for gainful employment or to kick off a start-up business.

In a competitive job market, a bachelor’s degree appears to be a basic requirement to join the workforce. But will a double degree provide the edge for job seekers or budding entrepreneurs?

Pursuing a double degree course involves studying for two degrees at the same time and completing both in a shorter duration than it will take to complete one after another

The course usually takes a year longer than the standard three- or four-year bachelor’s degree programme. Students will be awarded two degrees on completion of the course.

Some argue that with knowledge in any field easily accessible at one’s fingertips through digital channels, there is no clear advantage to the pursuit of a double degree course at university. Not only is it more demanding to pursue two degrees at the same, there are also the additional time and cost to consider.

But in a world where multidisciplinary skills are fast becoming the norm at the workplace and in life in general, a double degree can be a relevant differentiation.

DOUBLE DEGREES DOUBLE BENEFITS

WHEN a student is considering the pursuit of a bachelor’s degree, he needs to do several things: embark on a detailed market survey to gauge whether there is an industry need for job candidates with the particular qualification, the requirements of the particular profession, where the prospective student sees himself in the future, and how he can contribute to the industry.

Monash University Malaysia’s School of Business senior lecturer and undergraduate studies director Dr Adnan Trakic said a double degree makes a compelling case for prospective students to consider.

“Sometimes they are not sure of the degree programme to study as they may have interest in two fields. Pursuing a double degree gives an option to venture into both fields concurrently.”

A double degree programme promotes multidisciplinary learning ­— the studies are complementary in nature and share common ground. “It offers the chance to master two completely different disciplines and that exposure is priceless,” Trakic said, adding that it gives the student added value to future employers.

Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) academic affairs division’s curriculum affairs director Associate Professor Dr Sharipah Ruzaina Syed Aris echoes Travic’s point of view, saying that jobs in the future will require a combination of skills.

“The curriculum of the future will no longer be fragmented but will reflect multiple disciplines to produce a multi-skilled and multi-talented workforce. We have seen the emergence of inter-disciplinary fields such as engineering with medicine, engineering with arts, and arts with technology.

“This can produce graduates who are able to deal with unforeseen challenges of the future. Taking into consideration future demand for graduates with multi-skill sets, there is a strong case for double degree programmes,” she said.

Professor Lee Miin Huui, who is dean of the Faculty of Business, Design and Arts at Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus, said that while better job prospects are a significant advantage of double degrees, there are other benefits.

“Double degree students embark on two programmes that they are passionate about, without sacrificing the potential in either. They are more competitive with dual competencies and broader scope of skill sets, lending flexibility to traverse across and integrate different disciplines in the industry.”

With wider areas of expertise, it is easier for those with double degrees to make a career change or career shift.

“Pursuing two degrees at once will enable students to expand their networks crucial for future career development.”

BROADER PERSPECTIVES:

A full-time double degree programme comes with a heavier workload. While it entails multiple assignments due at the same time and extra reading lists, the subjects taught by two faculties enrich the student with different perspectives and breadth of knowledge.

Monash University Malaysia’s School of Business combines business studies as well as the arts in its Bachelor of Business and Commerce and Bachelor of Communication and Media Studies double degree programme. The business and commerce degree provides high level skills in a range of key business disciplines while the communication course develops knowledge and skills in the use and effects of traditional and new communications technologies.

Trakic, who is also course director of the Bachelor of Business and Commerce programme at Monash University Malaysia, said: “Students from this double degree programme, who join the business industry, have gone through rigorous report writing classes and are able to communicate and express themselves effectively, and have strong 21st century skills such as navigating social media.

“Communications is very important but it is very hard to teach quantitative minds the skills. A double degree in business and communications will certainly offer an edge.”

The university’s School of Business in Australia offers more double degree combinations such as law and business, engineering and business, law and engineering, and psychology and business.

“These areas of study are a natural fit and make powerful combinations.”

At Swinburne, double degree programmes are offered by the Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Science, and Faculty of Business, Design and Arts. The two faculties also jointly offer cross discipline double degrees such as Bachelor of Engineering and Bachelor of Business; Bachelor of Engineering and Bachelor of Computer Science; and Bachelor of Business and Bachelor of Information, Communications and Technology.

Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Science dean Professor Su Hieng Tiong said entry into double degree programmes is based on single degree programme entry requirements, whichever is higher.

“From next year, the faculties plan to broaden double degree offerings to cover more majors and disciplines under engineering and computer science, for example majors in Internet of Things and cybersecurity under computer science in response to the state government initiatives in digital economy and

global industry trend moving towards Industry 4.0, bringing together computing, automation, robotics and machine learning to produce highly efficient and integrated cyber-physical systems,” he added.

He stressed that a double degree enhances students’ skills and knowledge, and enables them to work across multiple disciplines and industries with ease. “A double qualification ― in what may take as few as an additional year of full-time study ― will help students stand out from other graduates in the job market.”

NEW AREAS

UiTM will be offering double degrees from March next year, said Sharipah Ruzaina.

Four faculties are involved in the initiative: the first partnership is between the Faculty of Applied Sciences and Faculty of Art and Design, and the second collaboration is between the Faculty of Computer and Mathematical Sciences and Faculty of Business and Management.

An example of a double degree from the first partnership is the combination comprising Bachelor of Science (Honours) Textile Science and Fashion Technology and Bachelor in Textile Design (Honours).

“Graduates from this programme gain knowledge and skills in textile technology and the art of textile and fashion. The double disciplines are developed to complement one another in producing multi-skilled graduates in the field of fashion and the textile industry. The course does not only enhance knowledge in fashion design but also the sciences behind the textile industry,” added Sharipah Ruzaina.

The second partnership will offer Bachelor in Science (Honours) Management Mathematics and Bachelor of Business Administration (Honours) Business Economics.

“This double degree programme is not only aimed at increasing job opportunities but also at nurturing economists who have a strong background in mathematics. It also produces economists with competencies in big data and analytics, as well as strategic analysts and data mining analysts with predictive skills.

“More than 30 takaful industries, insurance and inventory management entities have given positive feedback on the proposed double degree programme and agree that economists should also be able to analyse data related to business.”

SKILLS FIRST

While the importance of education qualification in gaining employment cannot be denied, other factors such as work experience and skills also count.

JobStreet.com Malaysia country manager Gan Bock Herm highlighted that to be more employable and relevant, graduates need to ensure that they upgrade their skills set to keep up with the demands of the job market.

“Based on our survey among employers, we find that work experience has a higher influence in recruitment. Most prefer to hire graduates with some form of work experience ― this includes work experience related or unrelated to the role and internship experience.

“Based on the findings, it is evident that a candidate’s employability is significantly influenced by their core competencies, attitude, communication skills and experience.

LEANING AND INTEGRATING

LIKE many school-leavers, Catherine Grace Chin Xai Fern had no idea on the course of study to pursue at university initially.

She finally decided on civil engineering as she felt it would be a useful course. To keep her options open, the 18-year-old student at Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus also opted for a business degree.

“I decided to do a double degree comprising Bachelor of Civil Engineering and Bachelor of Business as the two are complementary. In the business degree course, I learn about management and marketing, and integrate them into the civil engineering course in relation to project management. I also learn business law, organisational behaviour and how proposals work to navigate red tape,” said the second-year undergraduate.

Chin added that studying for a double degree is not much different from pursuing a single degree.

“Both ways, you sign up for four units per semester. It just takes longer to get your qualification and you have fewer elective subjects, focusing on the core units of each degree.”

She sets a specific time for studies and allocates particular subjects for particular days. She follows the schedule, does assignments ahead of time and keeps track of exam dates.

“In my first year in 2017, I joined the Aikido Club and the Swinburne Sarawak Student Council. It was a busy year with a lot of events to organise and collaborating with student clubs.”

She believes that upon graduation, she will have gained a better idea of both fields and will be able to better decide on her career moves.

“At the moment, I’m thinking of a career in civil engineering and focusing on either geotechnical, road or construction engineering.”

On pursuing a double degree course, Chin advises choosing degrees which complement each other.

“Make sure you sign up for all the correct core units for each degree. Participate in extra-curricular activities and find your own comfortable balance between studies and your interests.”

Lim Sheng Feixiang, 28, graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Monash University Malaysia in 2012.

“My four years of pursuing a double degree course gave me the best experience. It taught me to view the world from two very different perspectives. The lecturers and many people I managed to connect with further opened up my horizons to what’s in the world.

“More than just exams and assignments, it was the building of relationships and facing the challenges that came with them that shaped my attitude and passion to do great work, regardless of the industry,” he said.

Lim spearheaded the first Monash Entrepreneurship Forum with Monash Business Club, which was a great introduction to organising a large scale event that added value for more than 200 attendees. “Conceptualising and coordinating a start-up accelerator programme with Monash Entrepreneurship Club was another feat that exposed me to the world of start-ups and entrepreneurship.

“Starting my film crew, The Weekend Projects, alongside my Monash comrades with the support of the School of Arts and Communications was a fantastic project that escalated my career growth.

“The school also organised a study trip to Vietnam where we were tasked to document the journey in various formats ― written word, pictures and video. This turned out to be one of the best experiences I have to date. These opportunities, which were seemingly small at the time, were just part of the overall picture of invaluable experiences that allowed me to accelerate my footing into the workplace.”

Lim is now in streetwear fashion with Major Drop­ — a multi-brand streetwear store that curates exciting labels from across Southeast Asia and the world.

By ROZANA SANI .

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/education/2018/09/410561/are-double-degrees-worth-it

Education revamp needs new ideas

Thursday, September 6th, 2018
Education is an important investment for the nation. FILE PIC

The education system is under close scrutiny. Everyone has something negative to say about it. Educationists, too, have joined the fray.

The education minister, who has promised to overhaul the system, is under a lot of pressure to deliver.

In a WhatsApp group, of which I am a member, strong words about the many years of abuse are common.

All are calling for a revamp, not only at the primary and secondary levels, but also the tertiary level.

The minister has expressed disgust at universities’ obsession with rankings, oftentimes neglecting the national agenda.

Nothing, however, has been submitted for the attention of the ministry.

Even the appointments of advisory panel members attracted unfounded criticism.

Such critics may have failed to recognise the fact that past policies, which they have also been critical of, were developed by education experts.

It may be time for people to think outside the box. The minister has been holding discussions with stakeholders to gather ideas. Kudos to the minister.

What is clear to all is that education is an important investment for the nation.

It is through education that many escaped from poverty, especially those from rural areas.

It is through education that we have nurtured the talent to respond to economic and social challenges.

Many countries have improved their competitiveness through innovation.

In a world where innovation is now a criterion for competitiveness, the business playground has changed. And with the pressure of climate change, the demand for sustainability has also become more urgent.

We see evidence of this in the export of palm oil to European Union countries.

The economy is not the only agenda driving our investment in education.

Education has the goal of producing citizenry who can resolve the nation’s social ills.

Unemployment and corruption, for instance, are rooted in the failings in the economy.

Others, such as drug abuse, ethno-religious strife and crimes, can be attributed to poor social upbringing. Of course, misguided education would take a share of the blame.

As a small country that depends on external forces to support our economy, there is no doubt that we need to engage such forces.

Language proficiency is important. The more languages, the better.

But there are educationists who are against moves to equip our young with English language proficiency.

As if mastering a foreign language will be at the expense of our national language.

We need fresh ideas.

By PROFESSOR DATUK DR AHMAD IBRAHIM.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2018/09/408799/education-revamp-needs-new-ideas

Leading the nation’s tertiary education

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018
Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj addressing a 2,000-strong crowd who turned up to witness University of Malaya’s convocation ceremony on Sep 21, 1957..

THE year 1957 was a historic moment for Malaysia’s higher education sector.

It was during this time that a branch campus of the University of Malaya (UM) was temporarily set up at the Kuala Lumpur Technical College in Lembah Pantai in the capital’s southwest.

The university came into being on Oct 8, 1949 with the merger of the King Edward VII College of Medicine (founded in 1905) and Raffles College (founded in 1928).

UM derives its name from the term “Malaya” as the country was then known. The Carr-Saunders Commission on University Education in Malaya, which recommended the setting up of the university, noted in its report in 1948: “The University of Malaya would provide for the first time a common centre where varieties of race, religion and economic interest could mingle in joint endeavour. University of Malaya must inevitably realise that it is a university for Malaya.”

The university saw rapid growth in the first decade of its establishment and this resulted in the setting up of two autonomous divisions on Jan 15, 1959, one in Singapore and the other in Kuala Lumpur.

In 1960, the governments of the two territories wanted to change the status of the divisions into that of a national university: the Singaporean one later becoming the National University of Singapore and the one in Kuala Lumpur being UM. Legislation was passed in 1961 and UM was established on Jan 1, 1962.

On June 16, 1962, UM celebrated the installation of its first chancellor, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, who was the first prime minister. The first vice-chancellor was Professor Alexander Oppenheim, a renowned mathematician.

UM is one of five local public universities with the research university status. The others are Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Putra Malaysia and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.

By ROZANA SANI.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/education/2018/08/406012/leading-nations-tertiary-education

Student power: seeking to be heard

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018
Suara Siswa — Mansuh AUKU committee members Isaiah Majinbon (left) and Wong Yan Ke (centre) explaining the reformation agenda to Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman.

EVER since it was passed in Parliament in 1971, the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) has been an issue among student communities and academics at public universities here.

Enacted to provide for the establishment, maintenance and administration of universities and university colleges, and for other matters connected with them, the Act is viewed by a good portion of the student community on and off campus as prohibitive of the spirit of democracy, freedom and justice, despite five amendments from 1975 to 2012.

Suara Siswa, a coalition of student groups at University of Malaya (UM) comprising UM Association of New Youth, Demokrat UM and Angkatan Mahasiswa UM, views UUCA as restricting undergraduates from exercising their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association as well as stifling universities’ growth with political interference.

While the call for the abolition of UUCA has been resounding over the years, the change of government following the 14th General Election can make it a reality as it was listed as one of the education reforms in Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto.

The postponement of the campus election period to the end of the first semester or early in the second semester has been proposed for a fairer outcome.

The coalition’s mission is first, to uphold democratic values and fundamental human rights in the university; second, to uphold academic freedom in the university; and third, to raise awareness of UUCA among students and the public.

Suara Siswa activist Wong Yan Ke, 22, a fourth-year engineering student at UM, said: “The Education Ministry has recently indicated that the Pakatan Harapan government will look into the abolishment of the Act within a five-year term.

“We believe its abolition is urgent and should be given due attention.”

In addition to the restoration of student and university autonomy to achieve the noble and fundamental purpose of the institution, Suara Siswa champions political and civil rights in the country.

Fellow activist Isaiah Majahim Majinbon, a final-year law student, said: “We want to increase the participation of Malaysians and raise their awareness of political rights. The best place to start is on campus.”

CURRENT SITUATION

With regards to university autonomy, Suara Siswa said it is futile to compare Malaysian universities with those of other nations.

In Malaysia, the minister has absolute power to appoint a vice-chancellor, translating into political interference on campus.

Suara Siswa member Nur Iman Najaa Saifoldin, 22, a final-year law student, said: “The Education Minister has promised there won’t be politically appointed vice-chancellors any more, which is great. However, the appointment is provided in the UUCA and the Act is not abolished yet. Regardless of what he says, the law is still in force.”

On student autonomy, Nur Iman gave an example from the financial aspect.

“There are many student societies on campus. All their funds, including sponsorships, are held in the university treasury account and the process of claiming the funds is tedious. This inhibits activities from being carried out smoothly. It doesn’t encourage a healthy vibrant democratic culture on campus,” she added.

In the 1960s, UM was well-known for its vibrant political culture and its speaker’s corner. “UUCA allows the Student Affairs Department to restrict this culture. Freedom of speech exists outside the campus gates. On campus, students have been prevented from criticising or speaking on political issues that concern us. But outside campus, we have federal rights under the Constitution.

“We are moving towards youth empowerment. Our youngest Member of Parliament is 22 years old and we can nurture more young progressive leaders if we abolish UUCA. Without the Act, student participation wouldn’t be just campus-centric but also nation-centric. Students will regard political, welfare and other rights as national issues, not only campus matters.”

Nur Iman also felt that the campus is “like school”. “We attend events to gain merit. But some of us are 23 years old or older and we go to events for merit,” she lamented, commenting that at youth conferences abroad, participants from other countries are aged 17 or 18.

“Teenagers from other countries are more interested in nation-building than Malaysian youth. Why is the Malaysian youth not interested? One of the reasons is that a lot of our time at university is campus- rather than nation-centric.

“Students can be a force in ensuring check and balance in the country. Empowered with education, we can contribute to the nation.

“Take the case of the alleged rape case at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS). Students spoke up on social media prompting UMS to look into it.

DEMANDS

In a Memorandum of Demands to the government submitted to the Parliament on Aug 14, Suara Siswa demanded institutional reform by abolishing UUCA and replacing it with a new legislation which included the following: Abolish Akta Universiti dan Kolej Universiti and Revive Campus Autonomy; Revive Student Autonomy; and Clean and Fair Campus Election.

Final-year accounting student Edan Kon Hua En, 22, said:“Suara Siswa wants universities to be free from political interference in order to revive campus autonomy and academic freedom.”

Members of the Senate and representatives of the Student Union, administrators and alumni association must be University Council members with decision-making power.

GAGASAN members submitting a memorandum on security issues at UMS to Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (right).

No minister has absolute power to appoint vice-chancellors. An independent election commission comprising university academicians should appoint vice-chancellors. Members of the senate and deans of faculties are to be elected only by academic members.

The annual budget and financial report have to be presented and made available to stakeholders.

In the aspect of student autonomy, Suara Siswa calls for the establishment of the Student Union where members are elected by university students and granting it absolute power to oversee student affairs.

Suara Siswa also wants to reform the structure of the Student Affairs Department, with it reporting to the Student Union. The staff of the department are to be hired by the vice-chancellor in agreement with the Student Union. The university has to allocate a budget to the Student Union based on the number of the students.

Student organisations must be given management and financial autonomy. The Student Union will still need to approve the activities of the organisations.

An Internal Audit Section is to be established to audit the finances of the Student Union and publish an annual financial report, and make it available for public scrutiny on the Student Union website.

Committees of students’ residential colleges must be elected by students from the respective residential colleges.

For Clean and Fair Campus Election, Suara Siswa calls for the postponement of the campus election period to the end of the first semester or early in the second semester to be fair to all the candidates and ensure freshman voters make an informed decision.

An independent Campus Election Commission led by students is to be established to avoid any interference from the university authority. The digital voting system should be abolished and paper ballots reinstated to guarantee transparency.

Suara Siswa demands the revival of the postgraduate student election to involve all students in the decision-making process and the extension of the campaigning period for a minimum of seven days beyond the nomination day. There must be transparency on election funds as well.

Suara Siswa recommends that a University Institutional Reform Committee of stakeholders of higher education, such as students and academics, be formed to conduct research and studies into the matter. It urges the ministry to ensure its membership consists of at least 30 per cent of university students.

In his statement on the 43 education-related initiatives that have been implemented by the Pakatan Harapan government within 100 days of its administration, Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said the ministry has taken a holistic approach to upholding the integrity of the country’s education system by giving autonomy to institutions of higher learning and more freedom to students to express themselves through the revival of the speakers’ corner.

Maszlee said in tandem with the Pakatan Harapan manifesto, the ministry, through a special committee, has also embarked on an inclusive study on the abolishment of the UUCA while public universities are encouraged to organise more debates and dialogues with interested parties.

By ROZANA SANI.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/education/2018/08/406025/student-power-seeking-be-heard

Future perfect universities

Tuesday, August 28th, 2018
Universiti Teknologi Petronas is the No. 1 private university in Malaysia. PIC COURTESY OF FOSTER AND PARTNERS

TO remain relevant and sustainable, universities must be agile and embrace change in the ever-evolving educational landscape.

Offering guidance at Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) is a special Academic Advisory Council (AAC) comprising several remarkable international personalities. And at a recent AAC meeting, a number of eminent experts offered their thoughts.

Renowned UK-based futurist David Wood, for example, emphasised the importance of nurturing collaborative intelligence, agile intelligence, emotional intelligence, and a futurist mindset.

Collaborative intelligence is a way of saying that when we reason two heads are better than one (and more heads are often better yet). And now human reasoning is being improved also by Artificial Intelligence (AI), and by smart online collaborative tools such as wikis.

Increasingly, Wood predicts, AI will be designed to assist human reasoning even further, and to highlight false claims, faulty arguments and more.

Agile intelligence, meanwhile, means quick learning from failures and rapidly incorporating changes and updates in course materials as new information becomes available.

Emotional intelligence is a key element in teaching and learning. Mindfulness, among other traits, needs to be given greater prominence, Wood contends.

And finally, he says, fostering the futurist mindset to anticipate trends is needed to foresee and evaluate what’s likely to be encountered on the road ahead.

In Wood’s estimation, four technological areas are shaping the future most profoundly:

NANOTECH (molecular manufacturing, 3D and 4D printing, nanobots and nanosensors, next generation green energy, and quantum computers);

INFOTECH (machine learning, artificial creativity, wearable computers and augmented reality);

BIOTECH (genetic editing, stem cell therapies, lab-grown meat, enhanced pets, and anti-ageing); and,

“COGNOTECH” [brain-computer interfaces, next generation virtual reality, smart drugs, mind suspension (cryonics), and consciousness engineering]

Students preparing to participate and contribute in this technology-driven world need a solid science foundation, of course, but also education in the humanities, arts, and social sciences — what Wood calls “socialtech”.

Another AAC member, Rieko Kuroda, with whom I served on former United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon’s Scientific Advisory Board, likewise notes that solutions to our complex global problems need to be multidisciplinary, integrated, and holistic.

Kuroda, a former vice-president of the Paris-based International Council of Science and University of Tokyo professor, noted the steep rise in the number of “loss events” between 1980 and 2016. These include uncontrollable geophysical events (such as earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions) that impact increasing numbers of people, as well as events the frequency and severity of which are intensified by human activities: meteorological (tropical storms, tornadoes, and other severe weather events), hydrological (flash flood, river flood, storm surge and landslide), and climatological (heatwaves, extreme cold spells, forest fires and drought).

We have the means to mitigate the harm of such disasters. And global leaders have made some admirable mega commitments, such as the 2030 Development Agenda with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

However, it remains to be seen how these lofty commitments will be translated into real actions on the ground.

It has been reported elsewhere that since 2000 alone, forests equivalent in size to the landmass of Germany have been lost, 80 per cent of the world’s fish stocks have collapsed or are on the brink of collapse, and the Gobi desert is growing by roughly 10,000 square kilometres every year. Lists of such environmental concerns and pressures grow by the day, and there can be little doubt that the unsustainable use of natural resources will be the biggest challenge facing humankind in the 21st century.

Abid Khan, deputy vice-chancellor and leader of the Global Engagement programme at Australia’s Monash University, meanwhile, addressing the question of how universities can shape future workforce-ready graduates, noted that broader skills are needed to build the student’s portfolio.

These include generic skills (such as intercultural competence; innovative, creative and critical thinking; effective communication; resilience and adaptability; leadership and collaboration), science, technology, engineering and math skills as well as business skills.

The Monash approach includes redesigning the curriculum and courses to the needs of the industries and professions of the future, with an emphasis on cross- disciplinary education and a healthy dose of co-curricular activities. Every student will have the opportunity to be exposed to industry-based experience and to develop skills that are needed by prospective employers.

The last word belongs to council member Muhammad Yunus, the Bangladeshi social entrepreneur, banker, economist, and civil society leader awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for founding the Grameen Bank and pioneering the concepts of microcredit and microfinance.

Yunus emphasised that for universities to stay relevant, they must connect with the world outside the Ivory Tower, assisting the global community as we strive to reach critical targets, among them zero poverty, zero unemployment, and zero carbon emissions.

By ZAKRI ABDUL HAMID.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2018/08/405172/future-perfect-universities

Emerging from the web

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018
The imperative is for public universities to produce holistic, entrepreneurial and balanced graduates.

PUBLIC universities need no longer carry out the Integrated Cumulative Grade Point Average (iCGPA) system, effective immediately.

This directive came from the Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik who recently announced that iCGPA is not compulsory in public universities.

The iCGPA grading system, which covers students’ academic performance, as well as professional ability acquired throughout their years at university, was implemented in 2015.

The five pioneering public universities which implemented iCGPA are Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, Universiti Malaysia Kelantan and Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP).

However, with the new development, public universities have the option to give leniency to any of their faculties should they decide to carry on with the system.

To date, some public universities through their senates have made their decision to forgo the iCGPA while other universities have yet to make a decision.

For many universities, the directive will not effect them as they have been assessing students’ performance using outcome-based education (OBE) via the constructive alignment (CA) approach under the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) requirement.

UKM Quality Centre director Associate Professor Dr Roziah Sidik said OBE is an educational philosophy where the teaching and learning approach is based on a predetermined set of expected outcomes.

The term “outcome” refers to a set of values or attributes acquired by a student upon completion of a certain level of learn.

In OBE, there are three aspects — Programme Educational Objectives (PEO), Programme Learning Outcomes (PLO) and Course Learning Outcomes.

“For example, PLO indicates the attribute that a student should have upon graduation while PEO describes the expected achievements of graduates in their career and professional life a few years after graduation (within four to five years).

“PEO achievement can indirectly reflect the impact of a programme,” added Roziah.

UMP Centre for Academic Innovation and Competitiveness director Dr Mohd Rusllim Mohamed said the crux of iCGPA is the implementation of the OBE and CA approach which remains valid. The option is to do away with the “spider web” which displays leadership, communication, entrepreneurial, social and critical thinking skills.

“The iCGPA result must be a true representation of students’ ability rather than do injustice to them.”

Sharing the same sentiment, acting Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia deputy vice-chancellor (academic and international) Professor Datuk Dr Mohd Marzuki Mustafa said a few issues need to be rectified before the iCGPA can become a formal result to be published for the industry.

“For instance, not all academic programmes have fully adopted the OBE and not all staff have fully understood the concept. Even though a university adopts the OBE, nonetheless issues on understanding CA still need to be solved.

“If the lecturer fails to do CA as planned and in a correct way, it will do injustice to the student since his result displays false information about his achievement via the iCGPA spider web,” said Mohd Marzuki.

Rusllim said the decision to continue iCGPA depends on each university’s senate but the implementation of OBE and CA is still a must to comply with accreditation requirements.

“If they opt to use the iCGPA spider web report, they have to ensure the correctness of the implementation of OBE and CA approach by every academic staff.

“Continuous training to ensure all academic staff teach and evaluate students in accordance with the teaching plan is a must,” he added.

iCGPA is one of the initiatives under Shift 1 of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (Higher Education), also known as the Higher Education Blueprint. The concept has been explored since 2009 with the methodology development taking place since 2011 via collaboration between experts from public universities including UKM and UiTM.

Throughout this period, the MQA has advised on standards, with the ministry (Higher Education) facilitating the overall process.

The then Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said one of the key challenges of any higher education system, including Malaysia’s, is to produce graduates who not only excel in their fields of study (academically), but are also equipped with the necessary soft skills (such as English proficiency), knowledge (of the world at large, the sciences and arts), values (ethics, patriotism, and spirituality), leadership abilities (including the love of volunteerism), and the ability to think critically (accepting diverse views, innovation and problem solving).

“The immediate goal is to solve the graduate-employer expectation mismatch and enable our graduates to find meaningful employment. We also want our graduates to become entrepreneurs and create job opportunities for others.

“The long-term goal is about achieving self-realisation, societal prosperity, national development and global prominence.”

FRAMEWORK

In Malaysia, the importance of the role of higher education and training institutions in contributing to the nation’s social, economic and political development through the production of quality citizens, a highly skilled and talented workforce and new knowledge has been unambiguously acknowledged.

These developments have been guided broadly by the National Education Philosophy.

Empowering the actualisation of the policy is the Higher Education Blueprint which outlines the strategies, plans, key performance indicators, responsible departments, institutions and agencies within a number of strong enabling legal frameworks.

Academic courses must identify graduate attributes through programme learning outcomes.

In 2007, the milestone decision, agreed by all stakeholders, to develop a national qualifications framework and establish the Malaysian Qualifications Framework (MQF) was made.

“The main role of MQA is to implement the MQF as a basis for quality assurance of higher education and as the reference point for the criteria and standards for national qualifications.

“MQA is responsible for monitoring and overseeing the quality assurance practices and accreditation of national higher education,” said Roziah.

She said the preparation of learning outcomes needs to be in line with the second edition of MQF in which five clusters of learning outcomes have been outlined (see infographics).

“The term ‘constructive’ is used in the OBE approach because the model is based on the psychology of constructivism of which there are several kinds, but what they have in common is the idea that knowledge is constructed through the activities of the learner.

“The key to good teaching then is to get the learner to engage in those activities that are most appropriate to the intended learning outcomes in question.

“Meanwhile, the term ‘alignment’ is used because both teaching and assessment need to be aligned with the intended learning outcomes.”

Acting University of Malaya deputy vice-chancellor (academic and international) Professor Dr Kamila Ghazali said the move to provide more autonomy to universities is widely lauded. This includes the autonomy to conduct programmes as they see fit for the purpose of providing the best possible methodologies for teaching and learning as well as assessment.

UM has embarked on using the OBE approach for all its academic programmes.

“All courses must identify their graduate attributes through programme learning outcomes and the university insists that these attributes must be holistic and balanced.

“In UM, the iCGPA is an additional assess­­­ment tool to assist in the constructive alignment of the implementation of the programme curriculum.

“Even if the use of iCGPA is dropped, the existing OBE concept will be retained. There is emphasis on the constructive alignment of the programme curriculum plus the OBE approach will be able to identify avenues for quality improvement.”

Rusllim said some universities use the iCGPA report for the student to know their weakness and improve himself.

“At UMP, iCGPA reports are not meant to be published for industries.

“For now, it is a status quo since all our efforts were not meant for iCGPA. We started all the work for accreditation for the purpose of full implementation of OBE and CA as well as to ensure the success of our strategic planning for 2011-2016.

“We already had all the systems in place as well as reports of OBE attainment when the former minister announced the iCGPA in 2015. We just needed to change our results from bar chart to spider web to meet the requirement of iCGPA.

“It is most important to ensure UMP provides a very good academic environment for the student to have the best academic experience at university for him to grow as a learned individual and to contribute the best to the betterment of society,” added Rusllim.

Roziah said that to ensure the achievement of learning outcomes emphasised in OBE, the lecturer needs to design teaching and assessment so that they are aligned with the expected results.

“When this process is properly implemented, it enhances teaching and learning, and the quality of both lecturer and student. The eligibility to become a lecturer is often associated with expertise in a particular field and that the field is often not a realm of education.

“Not all lecturers have professional qualifications in the field of education. With this background, many challenges will be faced in implementing OBE.

“Other challenges include aligning teaching methods, as well as assessment, with the intended learning outcomes; designing

By Zulita Mustafa.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/education/2018/08/403983/emerging-web