Archive for the ‘Colleges / Universities - Issues’ Category

RM7.35bil Samurai bond to fund education, transport sectors, not repay national debts, says Kadir.

Sunday, November 11th, 2018

PETALING JAYA: The RM7.35bil Samurai bond issuance, which the Japanese government has offered to guarantee, is not intended to repay Malaysia’s existing debts, says Datuk A. Kadir Jasin.

The Prime Minister’s media adviser said the money raised will be used to fund the education and transportation sector and visit exchanges between Japan and Malaysia.

He said if there is confidence in the government owing to its excellent economic achievement records and sound administration, this will enable it to secure loans domestically and from abroad.

Instead, if a country had a poor track record or if the government had ulterior motives in taking up loans such as seen in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal, then it would be harder to secure loans domestically and internationally.

“If under the old government we secured huge debts in dubious ways especially from China, now we managed to get a special loan with a low-interest rate,” he wrote in his capacity as National Journalist Laureate in his column in Sinar Harian published on Sunday (Nov 11).

He said that the government may borrow domestically or from abroad at a lower interest rate to repay the debts left by the previous administration.

“Considering the financial situation of the government that is ridden with debt and liabilities of more than RM1tril, restructuring of loans is one of the challenging duties in the financial and economic administration in the next coming years,” he wrote.

In June, Malaysia asked for a yen loan during Dr Mahathir’s first meeting with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe to help resolve the government’s debts.

By Fatimah Zainal
Read more @

Japan to set up three universities in M’sia.

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

PETALING JAYA: Three Japanese higher-learning institutions have revealed plans to establish branches in Malaysia, said the Education Ministry.

Its minister Dr Maszlee Malik said they include Tsukuba University, one of the oldest and most comprehensive research universities in Japan, Nippon Designers School and Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University.

“It is estimated that Tsukuba University would start its operations in 2020, while Nippon Designers School could start operating as early as next year,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Dr Maszlee, who is currently on a three-day visit to Japan starting Monday with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, said the ministry has started seeking potential locations for the establishment of the new universities and will aid in easing the process of establishment, registration and intake of students.

“The plans are in line with Dr Mahathir’s Look East Policy which he started in the early 1980s,” Dr Maszlee said.

He noted that Dr Mahathir, who was conferred an honorary doctorate from Tsukuba University, said establishing Japanese universities is important for Malaysians as it enables them to not only learn Japan’s values and work ethics, but also expose them to its education system and culture.

Besides that, Dr Maszlee also announced that the ministry has plans to provide a nutritious breakfast scheme for the B40 group and hopes to inculcate a culture of cleanliness and discipline among children from pre-school till higher education.

“This is the result of my three-hour-long visit to Itabashi Daiichi Elementary School, a public school located in Tokyo, which allowed me to see first-hand Japan’s education methods which produces youngsters with good character,” said Dr Maszlee who visited Takeshi Sakamoto, the mayor of Itabashi City Hall on Monday.

“Sakamoto expressed enthusiasm to strengthen the relationship and cooperation between the two countries, especially in tourism and education. He is also keen on having sister city status.

By Lee Chonghui
Read more @

Dear Minister…

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018
Potgieter wants to empower teachers.

Potgieter wants to empower teachers.

ON May 20, Elmarié Potgieter penned a heart-felt, open letter to Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik. Her Facebook post has since garnered over 2,800 shares on the social media platform – on top of the hundreds of personal responses received.

Since 2011, the education consultant has been working on large-scale transformation projects here including Khazanah National’s Yayasan Amir Trust Schools Programme to improve accessibility of quality education in government schools, and Genosis – a Malaysian education model to develop future-ready youngsters. She shares her views on the state of our education system.

> How did the open letter come about?

I was sitting on the couch and just thought I’d reach out to the minister. I never thought it would go viral. It wasn’t meant to criticise. I had seen so much having been in the system. I was frustrated because we have so much potential waiting to be realised.

> Teacher education is your passion. Why?

I was 20 when I started teaching in South Africa. My mother was a teacher but I never wanted to be one. Now it’s my passion. I’ve seen wonderful teachers here but training, practical strategies, empowering them to do what they’re supposed to do, and getting them to go back to the curriculum to see what’s there instead of looking at other people’s interpretation of it, are needed. The system doesn’t give teachers a sense of ownership. Amazing things happen when teachers are given the right personal development and trust by the schools. Singapore’s doing away with exams. Hooray. This is what’s needed but parents here don’t trust teachers to assess a child outside of the general exam. So we’re back to exams as the only way of evaluating a child’s success. We’ve to focus on teacher training and leadership development. Maybe our teachers need more learning assessment and formative learning practice training. The ministry tells teachers what’s expected but there’s not enough support on how to do it.

> Are parents doing enough?

Schools have to involve parents more. Parents don’t trust teachers because they don’t understand what’s happening in class. Treat them as partners. What can you contribute? Can you discuss this with your child at home? Communicate regularly with parents and they’ll understand better.

> How should teachers be trained?

The preferred approach internationally is to have generalised teachers who teach three or four subjects like English, Art, Science, and Math – at least from Years One to Three. At primary stage, subjects can be integrated and taught as themes – like seasons. Children can learn about the theme in Bahasa Malaysia, English, Science and Math lessons. This helps them develop socially, emotionally, and creatively.

One teacher doing several subjects also promotes bonding. At that age, kids need to feel secure. A generalised teacher can get to know their strengths and areas that need improvement better so knowledge can be integrated across the curriculum. Now, children go to school, and they have all these different teachers teaching them. They sit at their desks, copying from the book, memorising from the board, doing tests and studying for exams. Many go through the school and are functionally illiterate. They can recognise the ABCs but not necessarily understand the concepts and thinking skills. Also, teachers spend so much time moving from class to class that how much of the period is really spent teaching?

> Let’s talk about the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025.

The blueprint has great ideas and it’s a fantastic document but implementation is a problem. When big decisions are made, cascading them down to teachers is hard. Sometimes teacher training gets diluted. Other times, the system doesn’t allow its implementation. Content’s not the problem. It’s a system issue. Go into any school and the first thing you’ll see at the reception area is a countdown clock to the exams. If exams are still driving what happens in schools, that means teachers still feel like their performance is measured by the children’s UPSR and SPM results. But you can’t blame the teachers or the schools. High UPSR marks gets you a good place in a high-performing, or a fully residential school, so that you can score in the SPM. And, that’s how the child gets a bursary sponsorship or gains entrance into university.

So varsities could be a key driver to change things. If varsities look at interview portfolios as an avenue for students to present and show off their skills, and consider the SPM results as only one factor for admission, maybe then we can start de-prioritising exams.

> What more can we do for early education?

Not enough attention has been given. We’re not talking about colouring within the lines here, but many parents don’t prioritise early childhood education so when kids go to school, teachers are faced with two groups of students – one that’s attended pre-school and have the basic literacy skills to take up the curriculum, and a larger group who has never had any formal pre-school training. The foundation must be laid even before the primary years. There are windows of opportunity in a child’s brain when certain synapses are formed and it’s very hard to create those new connections later on.

> How’s the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) aligned curriculum working out for us?

It’s good to benchmark your English performance against international standards but the textbook is very inappropriate. Children struggle with context. They’re talking about topics and a pre-knowledge that our students do not have. There’s great confusion among the teachers too – whether they should follow the textbooks, lesson plans given by specialist coaches, or integrate the two systems. There’s a fear of doing the wrong thing. There are many contradictory instructions. Teachers feel lost. There’s much talk about 21st century learning but there’s no clear conceptualisation about what it means.

> How are we doing with technology in education?

Teachers are given smart phones so they can access the Frog Virtual Learning Environment platform. Some log on and just let the app run. Many haven’t even taken the phone out of the box because they don’t know how to use it. Children aren’t allowed to bring their mobiles to schools. There’s so much fear that they’ll do bad things but isn’t it better to educate them about what’s right and how to use this very powerful tool? You can’t have IT in the classroom if you don’t have a device and Internet connectivity. But how you integrate IT in your teaching is also important.

We can do better

Education consultant Elmarié Potgieter’s suggestions in her recent open letter to the ministry:

> Education Ministry departments

Communication and alignment between existing departments is sorely lacking. As a result, schools are inundated by different projects and data management systems that result in a huge administrative burden, miscommunication and confusion. A leaner, empowered workforce will ensure huge savings and efficiency.

By Christina Chin
Read more @

Going beyond exams

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018
Genosis training for teachers, school improvement specialist coaches, district education officers and Institute of Teacher Education Malaysia lecturers in Putrajaya.

Genosis training for teachers, school improvement specialist coaches, district education officers and Institute of Teacher Education Malaysia lecturers in Putrajaya.

TO cope with the intensified demand for a highly skilled, progressive, and adaptable workforce, the creation, updating, and application of knowledge, is vital, says Agensi Inovasi Malaysia (AIM) CEO Naser Jaafar.

Our students, he feels, can become global-minded Malaysians with a high level of empathy and cultural understanding, and are able to play a big role in the 21st century world and beyond.

Enter Genosis – a pilot project that will be rolled out in 10 schools – SMK Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah, SMK SS17 Subang Jaya, SMK Sungai Burong and SMK Pengkalan Permatang (Selangor); SMK Bandar Baru Sri Sendayan and SMK Warisan Puteri (Negri Sembilan); SMK Putrajaya Presint 11(1) and SMK Putrajaya Presint 18 (1) (Putrajaya); and SMK Keramat Wangsa and SMK Puteri Ampang (Kuala Lumpur) – next year.

The pilot phase, which ends in the year 2021 is jointly funded by AIM and its education arm, Genovasi Foundation (GF). For the future, AIM and GF are looking at models like public private partnerships or social impact funding.

Rite Education managing director Elmarié Potgieter, who leads the design of Genosis, explains the aim of the programme.

“We wanted to take design thinking, inquiry-based learning, and the International Baccalaureate (IB) to create a framework for Malaysia, but one that could also be adopted by other countries.”

Education experts were brought in to look at what we had. And, Potgieter was pleasantly surprised to find that all the necessary elements were there – investigation, exploration, cross-curriculum work, and concepts. The problem, she found, was that teachers didn’t know what to do.

“They’re overwhelmed. Everyday there’s a new thing. If you were to measure learner participation and ownership in classrooms, the results would be quite shocking.”

The Genosis teaching guide.

The Genosis teaching guide.

Why Genosis works

Establishing master trainers among school teachers, school improvement specialist coaches (SISC) from district education offices (PPD), and Institute of Teacher Education (IPG) lecturers, ensures effective cascading of information to schools, says Naser.

These master trainers can deliver comprehensive and customised training as they’re very familiar with the school, and understand the positives and challenges, and other intrinsic factors like socio-economic levels and dialects.

Additionally, master trainers, teachers, students, and parents, are connected via the Genosis Education Management System (gEMS).

“The master trainer process exposes teachers to ways they can integrate 21st century skills, tools and teaching strategies, in their classrooms, while balancing direct instruction with project-oriented teaching methods,” Naser says.

All learning materials are online and accessible to teachers, Potgieter adds. And unlike other programmes where trainers come to the school for a few hours and leave, Genosis master trainers are based in the schools so they’re there to guide the delivery long after training is over.

“We’re building capacity in the schools. Learning changes continuously. Training alone doesn’t help. You must see a change in the class. It also comes down to support, and proper performance management.”

Professional development modules are designed as flipped classroom models, and workshops utilise face-to-face and e-learning dimensions, so teachers understand Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) inquiry and project-based learning, Naser shares.

“Student learning is always connected to, and applied in, real-life problems and scenarios.”

Students first

Genosis covers the national curriculum’s mandatory subjects, but also allows students to take optional subjects, Naser says.

With a broader and deeper set of knowledge and skills, students can adapt their understanding for use in any situation.

“Lessons are exciting, engaging and meaningful. Classrooms are more animated. Students are trusted to work independently to find information for themselves.

“They develop critical thinking and creativity while learning to collaborate with their peers.”

The core of Genosis, he adds, is the individual learning portfolio.

Each child has an e-portfolio that will follow them through their secondary years, explains Potgieter.

“The comprehensive e-portfolio will include competency assessments by their peers, teachers, parents and themselves. Tasks linked to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals showcase their design thinking abilities, to solve problems in the community. By the time they get to Form Five, the e-portfolio will show whether the student can work in a team, has good values, and problem-solve. This e-portfolio can be given to universities as proof of the student’s capabilities,” she says, adding that assessment is not about what you remember, but how you apply your skills.

The e-portfolio will showcase skills like writing, creating, and producing visuals. The process of building the personal e-portfolio is important. No two student will have the same kind of e-portfolio, she says.

“Design thinking starts with empathy so you have to find the problem, define it, prototype it, and review it. It’s amazing what children are capable of but we don’t trust them in the learning process.”

Assessing the pilot project

The ‘Genosis Benchmarks and Beacons’ guidelines will be used to define and improve the implementation quality and to assess teacher and student development and progress, says Naser.

Genosis is in line with the Malaysia Education Blueprint, stresses Potgieter. If this works, it could change Malaysian education.

“We’ve developed hundreds of lessons, projects, and investigations, so teachers know what to do and can eventually prepare their own materials.”

By Christina Chin

Read more @

Coping with work while studying

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018
Muhammad Fuad Mohd Nizam taking pictures and videos for Pinnacle Motorsports at the Sepang Circuit during the inaugural round of Formula 3 Asian Championship Race.

WE often hear of university students abroad doing part-time jobs to cover their living and education-related expenses.

Due to the rising cost of living, this trend is also becoming increasingly common in Malaysia, with many university students turning to paid employment to cover study costs.

Apart from the extra income that could help pay for food, accommodation and other education-related and lifestyle bills, quite a number are working for experience. The skills gained from part-time jobs could prove to be a boost to students’ employability in a highly competitive job market once they graduate.

But how does one manage working at part-time jobs during semester while classes are going on? Can one do it without compromising on academic performance?

Muhammad Fuad Mohd Nizam, 20, said it all depends on how one’s priorities are set. The final-year Diploma in Graphic Design and Digital Media student at Universiti Teknologi Mara’s Alor Gajah campus does freelance sports photography during his free time.

“I get offers to cover sports events during the weekend that usually take up three to six hours each. The earnings can range from RM500 to RM1,500 each time depending on the type of event. I usually finish editing the photos just before I go back to campus. In balancing my work, studies and social life, I will always prioritise my studies first. Occasionally I turn away offers when I know my assignments are piling up,” he said.

With spending on printing, research and ideation for his studies in graphic design, followed by fuel for his car and food expenses, Fuad said the income from the freelance jobs come handy, especially towards the end of the semester, when there is a shortfall in funds from his parents.

Prior to sports photography, Fuad designed and created logos or brand identities for small companies.

“Then I found out that my forte is more in photography. My line of studies relates with today’s creative industry. Working as a photographer and sometimes videographer helps me hone my skills and improve my portfolio for future job prospects.

“I have found through research that most creative companies or media companies do require a certain amount of working experience from job applicants. This working experience will definitely help me with that.”

Fuad said for him sports photography has turned into a passion.

“I do not think of it as work anymore. To me, it’s a win-win situation. I get to fulfil my passion and also earn money that will also help me with my studies. Also, the money earned can be used as my savings as well,” he said.

Nur Amira Md Mashor, 21, a third-year law student at Universiti Malaya, puts in 18 hours a week at a fitness studio as the first point of contact for customers.

“My job scope is to open up the studio for the day’s business, signing in members when they turn up and sell packages to prospective new members. I am also required to keep the studio tidy, so I will sweep and wipe the mirrors after each exercise class. However, I do not do heavy cleaning as there are cleaners that come twice a week,” she said.

According to Amira, her working hours does not affect her classes at all as they are all scheduled in the morning.

“I only work around my class schedule. I make about RM600 a month, which helps to cover my monthly expenses without depending on my parents too much,” she said.

Amira believes working while studying will improve her job prospects later as it helps build connections and understanding of the real world, which is crucial to her area of study.

“My working experience started after I finished Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia exam. I started working as an administrative assistant and continued even during the start of my degree. Over the past four years, I have worked at various companies, such as a property development company, a chemical trading company and a legal firm.”

Her experience working with a property developer exposed her to issues faced by developers and buyers. Being attached to the legal firm, although just for a short period, gave her an insight of a lawyer’s work.

“Even though my current part-time job is at a fitness studio, it still helps me in a way that I am more comfortable to interact with people and help to build my communication skills.”

She admits that her father is a bit reluctant to let her work during the semester, as he is worried that it will affect her studies.

“I still insist on working part-time as I feel that it helps me manage my time better and be more focused on my studies. It also helps me manage my own finances without having to rely on my parents too much. More importantly, it provides me with real-world experiences, which I feel will be handy for my assignment, and my future work.”

Brothers Mohd Syabil Qadri Shamlin, 22, and Mohd Syahmi Rasydan Shamlin, 21, prefer to work during semester breaks.

With divorced parents, the lads who hail from Sabah and are now residing in Cyberjaya with their mother and other siblings, feel it is their responsibility to help out as much as they can, particularly financially even though they are recipients of financial aid.

Syabil, who is pursuing Syariah studies at Kolej Universiti Islam Pahang Sultan Ahmad Shah in Kuantan, Pahang, receives funds from the Sabah Zakat Centre for his tuition fees, while Syahmi, who studies journalism at UiTM Shah Alam, has taken a loan from the National Higher Education Fund Corporation to cover part of his edcation cost.

“Our mother has never failed to give us some allowance, but we know she is going through hard times. So we decided to work while studying. At first, I tried working part time during semester, but it was too taxing to balance work and studies, and I wasn’t able to pay attention class. So I decided to work during semester breaks instead, where I can put in full hours,” said Syabil.

Syahmi, too, decided to do the same. Syabil and Syahmi usually work at eateries during semester break. What they earn generally goes towards food and books, as well as savings.


Read more @

Parameters of autonomous status

Thursday, October 25th, 2018
Universities with autonomous status can independently introduce new programmes subject to accreditation by MQA.

UNIVERSITY autonomy is defined as the devolution of major decisions previously made by central agencies such as the Treasury, Public Service Department, Higher Education Ministry and Malaysian Qualifications Agency to the governing board of the respective universities that will contribute significantly towards achieving excellence.

It requires accountability in managing resources in four main areas, namely institutional governance, finance, human resource as well as academic and student enrolment.

The first principle area involves the board of directors and governance board of the university. The two boards are key decision makers in the university subject to government regulations and directives.

The boards manage and utilise the university’s generated revenues by implementing internal rules and procedures.

The autonomous status also enables the boards to approve the establishment of a faculty or centre as well as new programmes which are not under the purview of the government.

Higher Education Department director-general Datin Paduka Dr Siti Hamisah Tapsir said the boards of directors of autonomous universities are empowered to approve internal allocations for the establishment of the faculty, centre and programmes.

New programmes, however, still need to be accredited by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency.

To enable public universities to be granted autonomous status, the Higher Education Ministry conducted a series of audits to evaluate their readiness.

In 2012 and 2013, seven public tertiary institutions obtained autonomous status with another six in 2014 and 2015.

Today, all 20 public universities have autonomous status. The last six public universities — Universiti Malaysia Perlis, Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin, Universiti Malaysia Kelantan, Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia, Universiti Perguruan Sultan Idris, and Universiti Malaysia Sabah — were recently granted autonomous status after passing a re-audit exercise.


THE public universities autonomous programme was introduced in 2012 under the National Higher Education Strategic Plan in a paradigm shift towards more effective tertiary education management.

The delegation of power between the universities and other central agencies was conducted in stages.

In his New Year’s speech in 2012, then Higher Education Minister Datuk Mohamed Khaled Nordin announced that the five oldest public universities in the country, would be granted autonomous status to self-govern, manage finances and generate sources of income.

They can manage their resources including hiring and firing staff, and have full control over the academic management of the institution including student intakes, provided that the universities succeeded in meeting the mark after an audit as set by the Code of University Good Governance and University Good Governance Index.

Siti Hamisah said the autonomous status improves competitiveness and performance of public universities by giving them more flexibility in decision-making and to devise and implement their own strategies without government over-regulation, political interference and micromanagement.

The autonomous status creates incentives for developing research strategies.

“It is very much the university’s prerogative privilege to engage in any strategic decision-making process including engagement in entrepreneurial activities, adapting to changing external demands, attracting and retaining quality staff, and creating incentives for developing research strategies and portfolios.

“This status will also bring back and expand the university’s traditional functions of teaching, research, scholarship and innovation to meet the wide-ranging needs of globally connected knowledge societies.”


Siti Hamisah added that the power of public universities to manage their resources is not absolute and is subject to the government and ministry’s policies and strategies.

For example, universities must adhere to circulars by the Treasury, with the chairman of the university’s board of directors as the authority to assume the role of the Treasury in protecting the interests of the government.

“Therefore, certain key performance indexes (KPIs), which include the universities generating 20 to 30 per cent of their income by 2020, were established to monitor the performance of public universities.

“This is to reduce dependency on the government and to empower public universities in accomplishing greater success.”

Another KPI assesses the rates of graduate employability where 80 per cent have to be employed within one year upon graduation.

Public universities are expected to contribute significantly to the country’s aim to become a high-income economy by producing highly competent graduates and commercialising research output.

By Zulita Mustafa.

Read more @

Malaysian varsities excel again.

Wednesday, October 24th, 2018

PETALING JAYA: All five Malaysian research universities are in the top 50 of the 2019 edition of the QS University Rankings: Asia with Universiti Malaya (UM) breaking into the top 20.

UM is in joint 19th place with China’s Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) is in 34th place followed by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. (see table).

The rankings were released today and include the region’s 500 best universities.

“UPM has continuously shown a positive performance for the past five years,” she said.

Taylor’s University vice-chancellor and president Prof Michael J. Driscoll said its improved performance is proof that its approach to teaching and learning resonates well with students and top players in the industry.

“To be within the top 100 universities in Asia by 2022, we will be strengthening our research capabi­lities and developing strategic partnerships,” he said.

Taylor’s University is in joint 135th place with Comsats Institute of Information Technology, Pakistan.

UCSI University vice-chancellor and president Senior Prof Datuk Dr Khalid Yusoff welcomed the 34-spot climb, describing it as further indication of the outcome of measures to enhance its academic strengths.

“The rise in UCSI’s international profile over the past year is most encouraging,” he said. UCSI University is in 178th spot this year.

Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman president Prof Datuk Dr Chuah Hean Teik said the rankings should be taken in the right spirit for further improvement.

“We should not forget the vision and mission of the university, and the fundamentals of education,” he added. The institution jumped to 188 this year.

QS director of research Ben Sowter said Malaysia has followed its successful year in the QS world rankings with noteworthy results in the regional version.

“It has five universities in the top 50 and the country’s top 19 universities have all moved up,” he added.

By Rebecca Rajaendram
Read more @

Managing technology transfer

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018
(File pix) PSP’s Innovation Promotion and Marketing Division Translational Research And Innovation Programme head, Mohamad Fakri Zaky Ja’afar, with National Best Intellectual Property Management awards won by Universiti Putra Malaysia through the years. Pix by Mohd Khairul Helmy Mohd Din

UNIVERSITIES continuously come up with potentially impactful ideas and technologies generated through research and development initiatives to benefit businesses and communities, and they have the responsibility to transfer the knowledge to society at large.

At Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) the role of managing technology transfer is taken on by Putra Science Park (PSP) through activities such as intellectual proper (IP) management, promotion and commercialisation of ideas and technology.

From UPM’s 2,000 IPs in various fields of research, PSP has facilitated the commercialisation of 166 technologies to diverse groups of industry players, including local and international companies, with a gross sale of more than RM61 million. Due to the efficiency and effectiveness in managing IPs, the varsity has won several major prizes for the National Best Intellectual Property Management for the organisation category in years 2008, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

PSP’s Innovation Promotion and Marketing Division Translational Research And Innovation Programme head, Dr Mohamad Fakri Zaky Ja’afar, said as the centre of innovation management and technology transfer at UPM, PSP acts as the bridge to partner with business entities to commercialise the university’s innovations.

“We always welcome local and international companies to collaborate with the university in commercialising innovative products that would contribute to the country and society,” he said.

PSP pioneered an innovative commercialisation approach called the Innohub Programme in 2013, which has been instrumental in developing 57 start-up companies that has generated production and sales on an industrial scale, with a total capitalisation RM7.8 million. The initiative provides a supportive and fertile ecosystem for innovation to grow into commercialised products, especially within the innovative technology sector.

“Over the years we have tried and tested so many ways of transferring our technology and knowledge to the industry, and one of the most effective ways is for the researcher to venture out as entrepreneurs. This is a key feature of the Innohub programme.

“This programme is unique because our graduate students are paired up with our researchers in start-up companies to work on testing and validating which business model will work for the technology that they are developing.

“We have many new technologies entering the market because of this effort. We have vaccines, fertilisers, engineering, information and communications technology and medical products, for example. This in-house programme has secured many pre-commercialisation grants from government agencies, which aim to build and grow the respective businesses, such as through the building of pilot plants to produce products and services,” Mohamad Fakri Zaky said.

Armed with this experience, through Putra Dynamics, under the Innovation Promotion and Marketing Division, PSP has implemented a series of training and development opportunities to help other universities and research agencies with their technology transfer activities.

The training programmes are aimed to enable technology transfer officers, management personnel, IP managers, business incubation managers, start-up chief executive officers, researchers and law officers, who are directly involved in technology transfers at local universities, research institutes and agencies to continue to develop and extend their professional skills and knowledge.

“We provide hands-on solutions through practical information sharing to solve research and commercialisation challenges. We have a proven track record, delivering public and in-house courses for local universities, SME companies, and government organisations,” said PSP director Professor Dr Samsilah Roslan.

PSP previously collaborated with the Higher Education Leadership Academy and Innovation and Technology Managers Association in developing curriculum for technology transfer officers and personnel for other universities and institutes of higher learning.

Among PSP’s training programmes are Intellectual Property Awareness Workshop, Intellectual Property Valuation Workshop, Lean Market Validation/Start-up coaching, IP and Commercialisation Workshop, Technology Pitching Workshop, Hands-on Industrial Design, Negotiation, and other technology transfer organisation-based needs.


Read more @

When students work

Thursday, October 11th, 2018

THE cost of tertiary education today can add up, as any university student can attest.

Apart from tuition fees, student expenses include accommodation, education resources and assignment-related materials, transportation as well as monthly bills and lifestyle costs.

According to HSBC’s The Value of Education — The Price of Success report, which covered more than 10,000 parents and 1,500 students across 15 countries including Malaysia, university students face a shortfall in funding despite receiving money from their parents to help pay for their undergraduate or postgraduate degree course.

Doing part-time jobs requires students to balance work and studies.

In Malaysia, the report stated that parents contribute on average RM24,100 towards their children’s university education. However, the students estimate they spend RM67,600 in total over the course of a degree inclusive of tuition fees, leaving a significant gap of RM43,500 to fill from other sources.

Malaysian university students are increasingly turning to paid employment to bridge the gap between the cost of studying and funding from their parents. Eighty-nine per cent of students in Malaysia — almost every nine in 10 — work while studying, mostly because they need the additional money.

HSBC Malaysia head of retail banking and wealth management Tara Latini said it is clear from the research that many parents are committed to funding their children’s university education, but in reality, the costs are often much higher than they’re prepared for.

“With student finance presenting an increasingly complicated picture, many students are finding alternative sources to keep up with costs, including paid employment,” she said.

What is worrying is that the report found Malaysian students spend a large proportion of their time in paid employment — an average of 3.4 hours a day, more than the time they spend in the library (2.1 hours) or studying at home (2.3 hours). A separate research, however, concludes that the academic performance of students who work 10 to 19 hours per week is superior to their peers.

But not all students are working to help fund their education. The HSBC report says 53 per cent of students in Malaysia venture into part-time work to boost employability in a highly competitive job market.

A glimpse of real-world skills and experiential learning during their tertiary education are highly important for graduates to forge opportunities for themselves, the report concluded.

Working part-time while studying is a way for students to gain extra cash to cover expenses incurred during a course of studies. But it is also a source of savings for the future

Nor Adillah Ayob works at a food kiosk for five hours a day.

Bachelor of Accounting (Honours) student Young Teng Wai, 23, has held a part-time job ever since he enrolled in Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman Sungai Long campus three years ago.

The eldest child from a low-income family residing in one of the People’s Housing Projects in Cheras, he intended from the start to help ease his parents’ burden of funding his education.

“Both my parents have primary-level education and they work to provide for me and my sister who is in secondary school. Although I have a loan from the National Higher Education Fund Corporation and a scholarship from my university that is renewable each trimester depending on academic performance, I still need to work to pay all my expenses,” he said.

Young stays with his family and commutes to classes, saving on the cost of accommodation. But with expenses comprising transport, meals and utility bills amounting to RM800 per month, the RM300 allowance his parents deposit into his bank account monthly does not suffice. Without part-time work, his allowance cannot cover expenses.

To supplement the allowance, Young works as an executive at an accounting firm after class as well as on days when he has no classes.

“I started with a bookkeeping role. And then as my degree studies progressed and I learnt more on the job, I am entrusted with personal income tax computation, review of company accounts and am assigned ad hoc tasks.

“The number of working hours varies depending on my class schedule, complexity of the tasks, as well as whether it is the peak season for accounting jobs. In the first two years, I could maintain 24 working hours per week. Now as my studies are becoming more challenging, I work 18 hours per week.”

While his initial goal in taking on the job was to cover expenses, Young is also saving for the future.

“I have the opportunity to gain knowledge and put theories learnt in class into practice. This is especially useful as the accounting field is dynamic in nature.”

Alia Najwa Ahmad Nokman, 18, from Sungai Buloh in Selangor also works part-time to help fund her education.

The eldest of six siblings said it is her responsibility to pull her weight as best as she can as her mother is the main wage earner. All her siblings except for her one-year-old brother are in school.

“After Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia, I asked my mother whether I could work and she got me a job at her workplace in the spare parts department. At Management and Science University, I work as a cashier at the food court to supplement the National Higher Education Fund Corporation loan which pays my tuition fees. I commute from home to reduce costs but I have transport and food expenses. I also have to pay for resources needed for class assignments and excursions,” said the third semester Diploma In Culinary Arts student.

Alia’s working hours are scheduled around her classes, with a maximum of seven hours per week. She gets paid RM7 per hour.

“I balance studies with work. My friends understand when I have to work and can’t spend time with them. But when I am free, I hang out with them,” added Alia.

The part-time job helps her to improve her communication and other soft skills. “I am now more confident when speaking to customers.”

Alia said work is a necessity. “The cost of living is getting more expensive so even a part-time job helps.”

Working part-time while studying is nothing new for Universiti Sains Malaysia master’s degree student Nor Adillah Ayob, 26. The daughter of a fisherman and a housewife from Besut, Terengganu started working part-time during the final year of her bachelor’s degree studies despite winning a Public Service Department scholarship.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) with a major in geography, Alia was offered a MyBRAIN scholarship to pursue postgraduate studies.

“It was an opportunity I could not miss. However, the scholarship was for four semesters and this semester I have to fork out tuition fees. On top of that, I have monthly expenses of RM1,000. So, I am working as a salesgirl at a food kiosk and as a tuition teacher to take care of finances. I don’t want to trouble my parents as I have siblings who are still in school,” she said.

Nor Adillah works at the kiosk five hours a day and gives tuition six hours per week.

“It is tiring but I have a daily schedule. In the mornings, I work. I take a rest in the evening and study, and work on my thesis at night. Twice a month I spend time with friends,” she added.

She has managed to gain some business knowledge through her employment. She does not intend to cut back on spending so that she can lessen her work hours as her expenses are “necessary”. “Also, when I finish my studies, at least I have some savings.”


Many parents feel that there are benefits to be gained by students when they work while studying. While the immediate gain is bridging the funding gap between

the allowance and cost of studies, there are other advantages.

Nurhanim Hassan, a lead e-specialist (training and development) at a local university, has a daughter Nur Amira Md Mashor who works part-time while reading law. Nurhanim said employment gives her child a greater sense of responsibility.

“I don’t object to her working while studying as long as it doesn’t affect her studies, but my husband and I keep an eye on her study timetable and work schedule as well. I am quite selective in the choice of jobs, and only allow her to take up those that will add value and are relevant to her studies,” added Nurhanim.

Young Teng Wai busy at work in an accounting firm.

“Occasionally, I do random checks on her whereabouts. And, of course, I monitor her assignments and coursework, and catch up with her when she is home for the weekend.”

Nur Amira plans her week in advance for studies, slotting in her work schedule. She is more cautious about her expenditure as it is her “hard earned money”.

Exposure to the workplace while studying enables students to better appreciate the efforts parents put in to fund their education and raising them in general, said Dg Noorhayati Pg Razid, assistant manager at the international office of a tertiary institution.

Her sons, Mohd Syabil Qadri Shamlin and Mohd Syahmi Rasydan Shamlin, work during semester breaks to cover expenses at university.

“They understand the value of hard work and money. They have become more disciplined and mature since taking on jobs during semester breaks and it does wonders for their self-esteem.

“But there is a danger of not having enough time for family and leisure. As a parent, I encourage them to share their experiences, motivate them and remind them of their responsibilities as a student and their roles as examples to their younger siblings,” said Noorhayati.

English language teacher Azwan Shaiza Nizam, whose son Muhammad Fuad Mohd Nizam does freelance sports photography, believes his part-time job is a good way to hone his photography skills and beef up his portfolio.

“Working with clients prepares him for the workplace,” she said.

Muhammad Fuad has become more disciplined in managing his time to accommodate both his photography tasks and studies, and has learnt to set his priorities.

“The student must not value an income more than his studies,” added Azwan Shaiza.


Read more @

Role of universities

Thursday, October 4th, 2018
Public and private universities should be able to produce industry-ready graduates who enjoy high employability.

DOES the responsibility for preparing graduates for the workplace fall only on universities?

Malaysian Institute of Human Resource Management vice-president and chief operating officer Geh Thuan Hooi said the industry must know the work-readiness competencies it looks for in fresh hires and communicate with institutions of higher learning.

“Practitioners and academicians must constantly meet to exchange ideas. Once healthy communication is achieved, the tertiary institutions can incorporate the requirements into their curriculum,” added Geh.

“It must also be remembered that by the time students enter university, their characters have more or less been moulded.

“Competencies such as completing homework on time, open communication as well as teamwork must also be integrated into the curriculum at primary and secondary school.”

Human resource practitioner Rizleen Mustafa believes that labour market skills should be nurtured in the early education stage.

The syllabus covering such skills must emphasise both hands-on assignments and classroom learning. Rizleen, who has 16 years of experience in talent recruitment, added that effective communication is the most important skill for young graduates.

Employers also value the ability to adapt to an organisation.

“The skills mentioned in the QS Global Skills Gap in the 21st Century report are important to advance a career.

“Customised training and internships for young graduates provided by employers, however, must go hand-in-hand with on-the-job training.”

Amir Hakimi, a planning and commercial head at an oil and gas company, said while the university provides the environment and opportunity for the student to acquire skills and knowledge, it is up to him to develop himself.

“At the very most, the university can offer an updated syllabus that matches requirements of the industry.

Undergraduates should focus on public speaking, art of presentation and analytical and critical thinking,” he added.

Alayna Razak, a regional manager at a financial institution in Terengganu, said students should have good communication skills.

The ability to interpret data goes together with the skill to communicate the analysis to stakeholders.

“More and more companies are looking at equipping their top management with public speaking and communication skills. As more firms do business across borders, leaders must be able to communicate and are sensitive to culture.

“Our students must be equipped with such skills too.”


UNIVERSITI Tunku Abdul Rahman undergraduate Muhammad Shafiq ‘Izzat Zarudin values leadership skills above other abilities in the work– place.

“I want to be a good leader with analytical, critical thinking and communication skills.

“Both problem-solving and communication skills can be learnt at university to prepare me for the real world,” said Muhammad Shafiq.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Bachelor in Social Sciences (Media Communication) student Ummar Othman Mohd Arfah did his internship at a marketing communications company.

His stint reinforced his belief that students must have the confidence to communicate and be able to work in a team to gain experience.

“I was assigned to manage events and handle paperwork. Trainees are expected to make connections and learn but some prefer to be spoon-fed.

“My department organised events almost every week and teamwork is key but some colleagues preferred to work on their own rather than communicate with each other.

“In fact, they chose to make mistakes rather than ask questions beforehand,” he added.

Sunway University communications undergraduate Raja Sofia Raja Cholan believes that soft skills such as problem-solving, teamwork and communication should be developed by students at school and the university.

“I learnt soft skills such as communication at secondary school by joining clubs and societies, and did volunteer work to mould my character for the workplace,” she said.

Raja Sofia added that universities should have equal focus on theories and practices, and employers need to update tertiary institutions on their expectations of fresh graduates.

By Zulita Mustafa.

Read more @