The entire episode was started by a possibly disgruntled senior academic at the Malaysian campus, Geoffrey Williams when he protested against an alleged discrimination against Malaysian MBA students at UNMC. I really won't go into the details here, but essentially Williams accused the examining body in the United Kingdom (UK) of lowering standards of marking in the UK home campus which in turn, resulted in a poorer performance amongst the Malaysian-based candidates.
It's actually an interesting accusation, for I would actually have expected a reverse in discrimination as a commercially oriented university as many from Australia have become would be keen to increase in-take in foreign campuses to become more profitable and hence may take actions which may make it easier to enrol into the college and secure its degrees. Interestingly enough, if the above accusation is true, then my perception of the UNMC MBA graduates will be raised further, as the quality of output is even better than the graduates from the home course.
However, equally possible is that the Malaysian students enrolled are just not up to par in general and was unable to meet the external examiners' marking criteria in the UK. The University's chief executive officer, Professor Brian P Atkins, made vague references to the above (probably vague so as to avoid stepping into another landmine :-)) while making a vague defense of the university.
However, for the current students as well as the prospective candidates of the MBA course at the University, I'm more concerned with regards to the reported "brain drain" from the University. UNMC’s Business School was reported to have allegedly lost more than half its senior faculty members including lecturers seconded from the UK.
Dr Geoffrey Williams, who quit in mid-December, said nine senior staff out of a total 14 have left the school for various reasons although the main grouse appears to be a “general dissatisfaction” with the university’s overall administration. He said the school initially had 18 staff but was soon left with 14, which has since dwindled further.This loss of staff may not have been surprising as a possible key issue is where the University is sited - in Broga, Semenyih. For many of the UK lecturers, being seconded from a university in the city to one in Broga, located some 90 minutes away from the Kuala Lumpur (KL) city centre, may be regarded as a hardship posting. Some might even construe such postings as constructive dismissals, if not done on a voluntary basis. Even Malaysians from urban KL will be unhappy at the thought of being posted to Broga, not to mention expatriates from Nottingham.
Over the last 18 months, he said the school has lost two professors, four associate professors, two assistant professors and the school manager - all of whom had either resigned or their contract not renewed.
However, the above is an internal issue for the university to resolve with its staff. What's more important for prospective students is that the teaching quality may be affected by the severe loss of staff. To quote Williams:
“I mention this because the make up of the staff at (the UNMC) is now mostly Malaysians with no experience of the UK system, so students will get a very similar experience as that at any other Malaysian university although they pay many times as much for it in fees!”Hence students expecting to be taught and lectured at UNMC may suffer from a lack of fulfilment in terms of the experience of learning from senior academics from the UK. Personally, I actually believe that the problems will be resolved over time as the campus is still fairly new, but immediate prospective students to the university may want to review their options with greater care. Most importantly, obtain details of the teaching academics at the faculty, conduct the necessary research on their background before signing up for the programme. For that matter, do that exercise for all the universities you intend to sign up to, for while there is a little storm over UNMC at this point of time doesn't make the other colleges necessarily better.
“I understand they have recruited an associate professor from Universiti Malaya and an assistant professor from Monash (Malaysia).”
Good luck! And thanks to Anne for the heads up. :-)