Thursday, January 26, 2006

Making Complaints Working?

Regular readers of this blog will know that I'm personally very sceptical with regards to the quality as well as many of the programmes currently being offered by the tens of private colleges in this country. One of my early "seminal" pieces written on this blog was the criticism with regards to the private colleges which have a tendency to advertise themselves as "world-class" despite being no where near the required standards. To date, It's still by far the most popular post on the blog, having been accessed more than 8,000 times. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised when the post was quoted by the Sun, as part of their Dialogue on Education feature, when Tan Sri Yahaya Ibrahim, the pro-chancellor of Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, founding president of the National Association of Private and Independent Educational Institutions Malaysia, and a past president of the Malaysian Association of Private Colleges and Universities was required to defend Malaysia's twinning programmes.

Well, it appears that making the displeasure known with regards to the manner in which these colleges have been conducting themselves in their marketing and promotion campaigns might just be having an impact. It was reported in the New Straits Times on Saturday last week, that the Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Datuk Fu Ah Kiow said the ministry was considering punitive action against operators of colleges and universities who publish or broadcast "misleading or deceptive" advertisements.
The ministry, said Fu, has been receiving an average of 20 complaints a day, mostly about private institutions of higher learning.

"The current procedure is to issue a directive to stop the misleading advertisement by withdrawing or amending the advertisement immediately... Usually they will comply and that’s it; no action is taken against them. We cannot continue to be so lenient because then they will never learn their lesson. We have to act, especially against repeat offenders."
It was made known that under the Private Higher Education Act, offenders can be fined RM50,000 or jailed six months for offences such as promoting higher learning institutions without approval, making false sensitive statements and providing false and misleading statements during promotions.

It is great to hear that the Ministry is planning to act against the offenders, and I do hope to seriously see action being taken for I've seen too many advertisement in the past 2 months of student recruitment that I was getting a tad nauseous.

On top of that, it is hoped that the Ministry will take a more pro-active stand in determining the definitions of when a college can use the terms such as "world-class" in their promotional materials. As far as I'm concerned, almost every single private college in Malaysia have the term describing themselves in one way or another. These colleges should not be allowed to get around promotional guidelines by using terms which are difficult to verify and are meant solely for the purpose of recruiting more guillible students.

The main concern I have in this case is the fact that the Ministry of Higher Learning is playing an increasing role in promoting the private education sector in order to attract a greater number of foreign students into the country. Such a role appears to be in conflict with a clampdown on potentially misleading and deceptive advertisements as it is likely that the inistry will tolerate a certain level of "creative" marketing in order to promote Malaysia as a "world-class" education sector.

I don't have an answer to how the above conflict can be resolved. However, I'm of the opinion that the importance of ensuring that our Malaysian students are not misled is of greater importance than that of increasing our foreign student population by another 50,000. It is also possible that the "commercial" promotion of the private education sector to foreign students by led by the Ministry in charge of Tourism, like the apparent policy in Singapore. Irrespective, let's hope to see progress in the regulation of the private sector education market in Malaysia.

2 comments:

tomatoinc said...

frankly, tony - the government SHOULD clamp down on those deceptive advertisements regardless of our national "edu-tourist" policy.

The solution to your 'conflict' is pretty straight forward.

1) we need to clamp down private institution with poor academic/educational value. if these students come and study here..and get a 3rd class education..do you think malaysia will be the next educational hub?

2) we need increase the quality of our education. period. better quality - better reputation - better value for money - more students. simple as that.

3) promote what's really in malaysia..NOT what's the malaysian government hopes there is or thinks there is. for instance, the fact that 60%+ of our population can speak english is NOT EVEN a known fact to most ppl. that's why we failed to attract those who are keen to learn foreign languages. our govt over-zealous effort with national language has far more negative results that it thought there is. Furthermore, the fact that there's 30% chinese speaking ppl (80% in some places) are not 'marketted' to our chinese in mainland china counterpart. in fact, we even FAILED to promote ourselves to those OIC halal meat hunting middle eastern students. UIA is probably an exception.

such niche marketing is necessary for us to compete the global education market. all in all, malaysia should just give up its hope to be education hub (competing with singapore and taiwan whose both have better universities and better english/chinsese).

i think malaysian govt should really concentrate on providing sufficient tertiary education to our own ppl instead. screw the foreigners.

Anonymous said...

TONY:

Reformed the government!

These pte. colleges have served the needs of students. Good or bad. Educational Consumers in Malaysia had no choice in education.

If you wanna help, set up NON-FOR-PROFIT pte. colleges. But the govt. via-a-vis MOE is not likely to issue permit to NGO.

WHY? These private colleges were set up via backdoors. During 1980s', the first pte. college was issued a permit because Tan Sri Murad, D-G of in MOD and many others were involved. LAN was $$$$$ those days.

Why Dr. Ling Liong Sik got into TAR and UniTAR (Kampar)? (UniTAR especially, NOT BECAUSE HE WAS THE PRESIDENT OF MCA) Dr. Ling's newfound-love, since retired from politics, is the easy money from the parents of the poor students.

Hints:
1) Find out how Dr. Ling gets his twinning program link with downunder and quiz him whether he gets kickbacks from sending the students there.

2) Find out which private college in Australia that Dr. Ling had used STAR Huaren Foundation to acquire.

3) Student (after completing the first-half of the twinning degree at UniTAR (KAMPAR or the temp campus) will transfer to Australia. What is that University or pte college? If that final part of studies still associated to UniTAR or indirectly owned by Dr. Ling, his proxy and his friends in education.

Tony, what you are doing is noble but Education vis-a-vis MOE is still the most corrupt portfolio in the governmentand NOT PDRM vis-a-vis Internal Affairs.