Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Inter-Varsity Grads... Errr, So?

In a piece of news which made the frontpage of the Star on Sunday, it was announced by the Minister of Higher Education, Datuk Dr Shafie Salleh that there may come a day when undergraduates can hop "between universities accruing credits instead of being stuck with just the courses offered by their own university."

The Minister has also proudly proclaimed this as a vision for the Ministry, "to be the first country in the Asean region to offer this flexible credit collection system."

As part of this scheme, the Ministry has taken two years to deliver a "Malaysian Qualifications Framework" (MQF)to streamline qualifications offered by institutions of higher learning which can be used as a reference point for entry into programmes as well as for credit transfers. Universities and colleges, private and public may also be rated in accordance to the framework.
Dr Shafie said that once the MQF had been finalised, undergraduates could collect credits from different universities but still graduate from the universities they had enrolled in... He described the inter-university credit collection system as "liberalising".
Forgive me for being just a tad dense, after more than one day of thinking about the credit transfer system... I've yet to figure out what's so "liberalising" about it? Mind you, there's nothing wrong with setting up a credit transfer system. I'm just scratching my head as to how this is regarded as "big news" justifying it's frontpage lead, and how is it that this has become such an important "vision" for the Malaysian higher education system?

As far as I can see, the above is purely an administrative framework which will not make any significant impact on the qualitative aspect of our higher education system. It is not a big deal as, universities overseas do "permit" credit transfers, but through recognition of the quality of courses conducted by the source university, as well as an academic evaluation of the specific candidate. The "administrative" system may instead jeopardise the quality of the better institutions, as it'll dictate the universities to "accept" students from weaker universities, removing elements of autonomy at individual universities.

What I'd like to see hit the frontpage news from the Ministry of Higher Education is how it's dealing with issues such as transparency in promotion exercises of university academics, improvements in the quality of overall student growth and maturity both academically and socially, as well as the age old issues of meritocracy in the enrolment of students into local universities. Measures such as the MQF are fair enough, but they don't and will not bring about the much needed improvement in the quality of our local public universities.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

so?

I don't see the point of you complaining here.

Lodge one to the Star instead pls.

clk said...

Maybe Tony can enlighten us more about how the UK's Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS) works as you actually can bring in credits from various UK schools together and graduate subject to a minimum points required from the graduating college.

Oxford for example awards something like 10 pts for some of its online short courses but I don't think you can ever graduate from Oxford with points from elsewhere. Those points would be useful for say the OpenU for example which has an open entry system.

MaLaySian Teen! said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
- ソ | レ - said...

Anon,

We all know that the local media is very much controlled. There is no point in lodging reports to the Star or NST or even Berita Harian for that matter, as they would dissect it and print out only certain portions.

I think the net has been a good place for our catharsis. This isnt out of ennui, its about the truth.

Anonymous said...

The Minister is talking absolute rubbish when our current public universities are in real mess and declining academic standards.

Better clear up the mess first.

rakyat said...

In what way would this credit transfer improve the quality of education in our universities?

Perhaps when a UM undergrad finds that his course there is not up to expectations, he can hop to UTAR instead :) That will definitely improve quality.

Eric said...

I think 'rakyat' above is right. Setting up such a framework will give more power to students to attend courses at other universities if their own university underperforms on a particular subject or when their own university doesn't offer a specific programme. It can introduce a bit of healthy competition between universities where students in the end can benefit from.

Kian Ming said...

I think 'rakyat' was trying to be sarcastic when he said that a UM student could 'hop to UTAR instead'. While this move might have advantages, at least in theory, I have a few reservations.

Firstly, the advantages are incremental at best. There are more substantive changes which needs to take place rather that this kind of cosmetic change.

Secondly, the devil is in the implementation aspect. Do our local unis really have the infrastructure (IT, administrative etc...) to carry something like this out efficiently? How is a student from UNIMAS to take a course in UM? Are our lecturers IT-savvy enough? Do we have the IT infrastructure to teach classes 'virtually' or through 'podcasting' for example?

I'm not sure that the minister has gotten the VCs to buy into this idea and to implement it well. Time will tell.

Bigjoe99 said...

I attended the two most famous school on Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts and the two schools do credit tranfers very liberally. You find the upriver students coming down river for the best technical education on the Eastern seaboard while the downriver students go upriver for one of the most challenging liberal arts education in the world.

As a result, you find a healthy creative technological environment downriver while the upriver school produce the most discipline, flexible and well-rounded students.

There is a good that can come out of such credit transfer but its best when each school has core strength but if schools all generalist or try to specialist in everything, there is no use to such credit transfer scheme.