11TH MALAYSIAN EDUCATION SUMMIT2007Theme: Malaysian Education Winning in the Global Race The Role of Private Colleges and Universities in Malaysia: Widening Access to Quality Higher Education By Prof Datuk Dr Ismail Md. Salleh CEO/Vice Chancellor International University College of Technology Twintech 16-17th April 2007 Sunway Pyramid Convention Centre
Scope of Presentation I. Examines the role of private college and university in the context of current higher education scenario in Malaysia. II. Describes the profile of private higher education in Malaysia. III. Analyzes Malaysia’s role as a Regional Centre of Educational Excellence. IV. Examines the quality assurance, accreditation and regulatory framework. V. Discusses the factors influencing the access of quality higher education and VI. Rises a number of challenges private college and university face in order to enhance access. This Section also provides recommendations for implementation.
I. The Role of Private College and University Private universities and colleges have been playing a very significant role in complementing and supplementing the efforts of public sector in its social responsibilities of providing higher education opportunities and accessibility to quality education to Malaysians, and more recently to foreign students. It was only in the mid-1980s that higher education was liberalized and opened to the private sector involvement.
This was primarily motivated by: • The need to increase the number of enrolment at the tertiary education; • The need to increase foreign exchange reserve; • The need to ensure that tertiary education was responsive to market demand; and finally • The need to develop and modernize the services industry
Seven Broad Thrusts of the education system to meet the challenges of globalization and the emergence of the K-economy: • Expanding the supply of highly skilled and knowledgeable manpower. • Increasing accessibility to quality education and training. • Improving the quality of education and training delivery system. • Promotion of lifelong learning. • Increasing the supply of science and technology manpower. • Developing and promoting Malaysia as a regional centre of educational excellence. • Reinforcing positive values.
In 2002, a dedicated Ministry of Higher Education was created and was given the responsibility to formulate policies and regulations and implement strategies and programmes on tertiary education.
II. Profile of Higher Education in Malaysia • In the mid 1980s, only about 12 percent of the 17-23 age cohorts had access to higher education. • By 2000, this figure increased to nearly 23 percent and By the end of 2006, this ratio has increased further to 29.9 percent • At present, the number of students in the twenty public universities is almost equal to that of the private universities and colleges. • It is the aim of the Malaysian government to increase the ratio of 17-23 cohort groups in tertiary education to 40 percent by 2010. • The Ministry also aims to increase the ratio of science and technical students to 60 percent by 2010.
The setting up of the National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN) led to the increase in the number of students to get access to higher education. • To date more than RM13 billion were disbursed from the Fund benefiting more than 1.1 million students in both private and public sectors.
Presently there are 532 PHEIs in Malaysia that is registered with the MHE. • From this 532 PHEIs were given licences, 503 represent private colleges having non-university status, 11 having university status, 15 university colleges, and 4 foreign university branch campuses. • The estimated number of students enrolled in the PHEIs in December 2004, were 322,891 at the certificate, diploma and degree levels. • 233,227 were in the 503 PHEIs having non-university status and 89,664 were in the private universities and university colleges.
From the 532 colleges and universities and university colleges, 10 percent are categorized as large entities that are the number of students exceeding 2,000 students, • 20 percent are medium size with enrolment between 500-2,000 students and • 70 percent are small entities with 500 students or less. • These universities and colleges are offering a wide range of programmes in the fields of technical, medical, professional, business and liberal arts.
III. Malaysia As a Regional Centre of Educational Excellence • The 1990s saw a significant shift in the development of tertiary education in Malaysia where efforts are made to internationalize Malaysian higher education. • The new initiative undertaken by the Government’ was to make Malaysia as a regional centre of educational excellence. • The Government set up education promotion offices in four countries including China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Dubai. • Visa arrangement for foreign students was simplified and other incentives were given to these students. • By 2006, there were about 42,000 foreign students in Malaysia. • MOHE also established Malaysian Education and Promotion Council to promote Malaysian higher education abroad.
The aim of Malaysian Government is to attract at least 100,000 foreign students by the year 2010. • The challenges are tremendous. A number of issues need to be resolved if this objective is to be met. • The most significant development is the increased competitive environment among competitor countries. • Programmes, which are offered by our universities and colleges, will need to have international recognition.
Therefore Malaysia will have to embark on a more aggressive approach, among others: 1.Establish One Stop Centre to facilitate the processing of visa and work permits and streamline and relax immigration procedures. 2.Set up British Council like body and increase the number of Education Attaché in overseas markets. 3.Universities and university colleges be allowed to provide good and quality intensive English Language programme at certificate level. 4.Private colleges and universities and university colleges should offer internationally recognized programmes and allow universities and university colleges to continue to run twinning and 3 + 0 programmes.
5. Provide subsidies and incentives for universities and colleges to promote in overseas markets. 6.Make available grants or soft loans for universities and colleges to upgrade the quality of their academic programmes and physical infrastructure facilities. 7.Efforts to promote Malaysia education overseas should not be on ad hoc basis; rather it should be a well-planned, researched and continuous effort. 8.Provide incentive to encourage branding of Malaysia education to be enhanced and up-lifted in overseas markets.
9. Make available working opportunities for foreign students during and after graduation. 10.The Government should undertake a more aggressive and concerted efforts to promote Malaysia as a centre of educational excellence; and 11.Provide secured environment for foreign students to live and study in Malaysia. Overseas students especially students from China are particular about their accommodation, security and living environment.
IV. Quality Assurance, Accreditation and Regulatory Framework • The Quality Assurance Department (QAD) was established under the Ministry of Higher Education to ensure quality and standards of public higher education are safeguarded and enhanced. • To assure that the quality of higher education in Malaysia is recognized and of international standard, the Malaysian Government in 1997, established the National Accreditation Board (LAN), to approve and regulate all programmes before they are offered to the public. • LAN is also given the task to accredit programmes either local or foreign. • Though in the initial years, there were several complaints raised by PHEIs about the long time taken by LAN in processing for approval, however, LAN since has significantly improved the approval process and procedures.
The Government also established the National Council for Higher Education. • This Council is a consultative body, whose aims among others are to discuss and approve policies and regulations relating to higher education. • The Minister of Higher Education chairs the Council whose members include both public and private sector representatives.
The Government has formulated the National Quality Framework (NQF), to further streamline and standardize the programmes being offered. • The NQF determines the various levels of programmes; • Agrees on credit transfer arrangement; • Provides the link between vocational and academic programmes; • Determines the point of entry and allows the approved prior learning, which facilitates lifelong learning.
The NQF is based on learning outcomes and this will make comparability with international programmes much easier. • NQF also provides simplicity of understanding of the structure of higher education in Malaysia to students and parents. • The body responsible to administer and monitor the NQF is the Quality Assurance Department under the Ministry of Higher Education and
This Agency is expected to merge with the National Accreditation Board to form a unified agency known as Malaysian Quality Agency (MQA) to oversee all issues with respect to quality assurance and certification of programmes for higher education in both the public and private universities and colleges. • The MQA will also be responsible for undertaking the rating of academic programmes of private and public universities. • The Ministry of Higher Education will soon conduct Establishment Audit to evaluate the governance, academic quality and physical infrastructure of private college and universities before embarking on the rating process.
The Ministry of Higher Education formulated a Strategic Plan for Private Higher Education Institutions (2001-2010). This plan provides the direction and guidance for the development of private higher education focusing on four areas, namely, • Accessibility, • Equitable provision of services and facilities, • Quality assurance and • Iinternationalization of private higher education. With the implementation of the Strategic Plan, the enrolment, the academic programmes and the capacity of private higher education institutions have greatly been enhanced.
In the recent 2006 Budget, the higher education received substantial budgetary allocation. A number of incentives were also given to strengthen the PHEIs. Among these are: ·The Ministry of Higher Education is to set up a Unit to streamline the accreditation of Malaysian awards overseas and likewise to streamline recognition and accreditation of foreign degrees and awards. Perhaps Malaysia should work towards having reciprocity of recognitions between Malaysia and foreign countries.
·The Government also agrees to underwrite all costs with respect to preparation of new programme for approval and the cost of submission to LAN. PHEIs are allowed to claim tax deductions for the costs incurred. ·The Government provides incentive in the form of 100 percent Investment Tax Allowance to universities and colleges offering science and technical subjects.
V. Enhancing Access to Quality Higher Education • The Ministry of Higher Education Strategic Plan aims to enrol 1.6 million students or 40 percent of the cohort groups between the ages of 17-23 in tertiary education by the year 2010. • At least 50 percent of these students will come from Private Higher education Institutions. • The Ministry also hopes to attract at least 100,000 foreign students to study in Malaysia during the same period. • At the moment we have only achieved about 40 percent of the target. • These statistics indicate that Malaysia has a long way to achieve its targets in terms of domestic and foreign students enrolment in tertiary education.
At the same time, the number of students who set for their SPM accounted for nearly 415,000 annually. • 80,000 finish their STPM per year. • Nearly 250,000 of them fail to get access to higher education institutions. • Based on this statistics, there appears to be wide gap between the demand for higher education vis a vis the supply of potential students. • Paradoxically, despite of this wide gap, many private higher education providers are unable to attract and enrol students into their academic programmes.
Among factors contributing to these shortfalls include: • Failure of Private higher education institutions to admit students because of inconsistent admission criteria. • Poor academic performance both at the SPM and STPM examinations which lead them to drop-out from the tertiary education. • Inadequate financing, many students come from families having low socio-economic status. • Preference for enrollment into public higher institution. Many prefers to wait for the second or third intake into IPTA rather than enrolling into private higher education institutions. • Many school leavers prefer to seek employment to support their family’s income.
VI. Challenges and Problems Encountered by PHEIs and Recommendations to Overcome the Problem of Access A number of issues and problems faced by the PHEIs that need to be resolved and these include: ·Intense competition among universities/colleges in terms of student recruitment. ·Another factor which prohibits students from getting access to quality higher education is due to the inconsistency and inflexibility of admission criteria to private colleges and universities. · International recognition of home-grown programme Is somewhat limited. Incentives should be make available for PHEIs to brand name their products overseas and the Ministry of Higher Education should work towards getting international recognition of our LAN accredited programmes. Many countries have adopted reciprocal recognition, of national qualifications perhaps Malaysia should consider making the same arrangement. The introduction of NQF should help towards getting international recognition of our qualifications.
·Many qualified students are being denied places in PHEIs because of inadequate financing. Although the National Higher Education Fund provides study loans to students, the quantum is not adequate to support students. The recent survey indicates that nearly 80 percent of students come from family earning RM1,500 or less per month. ·Many colleges operate with inadequate development and working capital thus limiting their ability to provide conducive learning environment such as proper infrastructure, facilities, teaching staffs etc. Huge investment is needed to make these facilities and manpower available and many colleges could not readily get access to funds for their investment. Government should consider providing soft loans to education providers to improve their physical building and to purchase equipment and construct labs. and facilities.
·Although many approval procedures have been streamlined and simplified by LAN and JPS, there are still a number of bureaucratic red tapes that PHEIs have to face and these have delayed the programmes from being offered. For example, it takes longer time to get approval to run professional courses since its approval requires clearance from both the National Accreditation Board and the Professional Body concerned. · There are still problems in the issuance of student visa. Although the client charter for the issuance of visa is within fourteen days, however, in many cases it requires a much longer time than this, thus inhibiting the flow of foreign students to Malaysia. This bureaucratic delays can result in Malaysia losing foreign students to our competitors. This does not go well in terms of our effort to make Malaysia as a regional center of educational excellence. Although previously, proposal has been made to establish a one-stop center to and approve the issuance of visa, However, until to-day this has not been realized.
Conclusion The role of private college and universities in widening access to quality higher education is indeed important. The huge gap between demand and supply of students wanting to pursue their tertiary education raised a number of challenges for education providers, and the Ministry of higher education to find mechanisms to bridge this gap, failing which we may not achieve our targets to meet the 40 percent cohort enrollment by 2010. It will also have significant negative repercussion on our effort to make Malaysia as a regional center of educational excellence.