Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Private Higher Education Roundtable

Astro AEC (亚洲娱乐台) will be organising a roundtable on the future development of Malaysian Private Higher Education. I've been invited by the producers to be part of the panel, which includes Dato' Peter Ng, President and Vice-Chancellor of Universiti College Sedaya International and Tan Yew Sing, President and Founder of Inti College International. The programme is expected to be recorded early next week, but I'm not yet sure when it will be aired.

Based on an outline given by the producers, we are expected to discuss several issues relating to Malaysia's private higher education system. They include:
  • Given the unimpeded growth of private higher education in Malaysia over the past decade or so, has it since slowed in recent years?

  • What are the biggest issues and challenges facing the local private universities and university colleges?

  • Are there any attempts to attract Malaysian academics located overseas to return to the local education sector?

  • Who are our major competitors in attracting foreign students? Which are the key factors affecting competition? Are we able to attract top students overseas?

  • In which aspects do we need to improve ourselves further to attract more foreign students? Which are the countries we are targetting to increase our intake?

  • Renown institutions, such as London School of Economics (LSE) have recently set up branch campuses in China. Will this trend affect the performance of the Malaysian institutions in China?

  • Due possibly to the intense internal and external competition amongst private education institutions in Malaysia, will we be seeing a trend towards sector consolidation through mergers and acquisitions?

  • How do you view the future of Malaysia's private higher education sector?
I'm not sure if the above topics are of interest to you out there or whether there should be other more pertinent issues raised and discussed during the roundtable.

I do know that many of you readers out there are either academics or students within these private universities and colleges. Any feedback you can provide me will certainly help me build a stronger case in my arguments. For example, I've heard recently that one of the local prominent university colleges has been employing many expatriate Indian lecturers, who are either incompetent or speaks unintelligible English (to us anyway) which results in poor delivery of courses.

Thanks for the assist, will let you guys know when the programme does get aired :).

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I remember during my days as an undergraduate student in a private college, there were several foreign lecturers who just couldn't get my respect for various reasons (I have to say they do not represent the majority of lecturers in that private institution).

The lecturers, mainly from India, speaks English which I could barely understand.

I have one particular lecturer from Somalia, which we once asked him about his academic background and qualification. His answer to us was that he's got a PASS degree in Engineering. And that even a 3rd class honours is difficult to get in Engineering field, unlike us studying IT.

There's a lecturer that gives highest marks to the thickest assignment, but could not explain the contents of the assignment when I seek explanation. I tried to challenge another assignment's contents which is purely cut and paste from Internet (even the links are not removed) and asked him what is it all about. He brushed off the topic.

My programming lecturer had great difficulty explaining "functions". Some time later, we discovered that he just completed his final year in the same college.

Lecturer changed several times for one subject. They are part time lecturers and often have other businesses to deal with. So a replacement lecturer will come in instead.

Sometimes all the above makes me wonder what does it really take to become a lecturer? Is it true that people that can't find better jobs become lecturer of private colleges? Are there any minimum requirements set by the government?

Anonymous said...

the standard of our lecturers at private colleges are very poor even at the bigger ones like inti and help.

the main reason is simple. private colleges in m'sia are run like business entities with profits in mind. many are in fact incorporated organisations, and answerable to shareholders. they don't care about academic quality, they just see $$$. as such, cutting cost is a must and that's where unqualified lecturers from overseas are flown in. facilities at some of these colleges are also embarassing. u just can't pack 50 students in a classroom with students sharing tables.

btw, in case many do not know, indian lecturers with masters is internationally recognised at bachelor level only. therefore, if the lecturer has a masters from india, their level of knowledge is at the same level as a degree student studying from him. so please don't be fooled by colleges claiming they have lecturers with minimum masters.

Anonymous said...

I think one big issue here is the pay of the lecturer. Unless lecturers are being paid as well as their peers in the other industries, there's no ways we can get good lecturers around.

I believe unless you've already achieved financial freedom (of which most of us wouldn't), who wants to take an enourmous pay cut to become a lecturer no matter how great your passion is? At the end of the day, we still need to pay our bills.

Are colleges willing to double the pay of a lecturer? Can't blame them. Coz the next question is gonna be - are the students willing to pay twice the price for a better lecturer? If they could afford to pay more, they would have went overseas to study.

Students wait until they see REAL QUALITY before they are willing to pay more. Colleges need to charge higher fees before they can get the quality lecturers. It's a chicken and egg story.

coleong said...

I'm not sure about the situation in private education institute but I guess the standard would be about the same as public universities since the requirement for lecturer are almost the same. It would be interesting to know how these private universities attract good quality foreign lecturers without any good incentive and research facilities.

Your Fellow Anon said...

I'm a product of Inti College about 4 years ago so I do not know if the situation remains unchanged.

I was in a small class of four. With one or two or more of my class mate skipping class all the time, the ratio was often two to one. Yet, I did not learn much from the Malaysian lecturer as he does not know the material himself. On one occasion, I asked him: "shouldn't it be so-and-so?" he turned back to the white board and continued droning away. When cornered, he offered me the solution manual and quickly changed the subject. We had to basically teach ourselves dynamics. I had another Malaysian math lecturer who spent 10 minutes teaching and spent the other 40 minutes gossiping with the students. He was a charming fellow but he was by no means helpful.

On the other hand, I had an Indian lecturer who taught me programming and another lecturer from the Philippines who taught me thermodynamics. Both had an accent but both lecturers were dedicated to teaching and strives to maintain a healthy standard.

I also took up an English class under an Indian lecturer who was well qualified and she taught well. She was a tough grader and I am grateful for it.

In the end, it is quality of the lecturers that is key; and not the nationality of the lecturers. My small sample and outdated experience may not reflect the current situation today.

p/s: I would also like to salute Ms Chua (chemistry) and Mr Koong (math) who were excellent teachers.

Black Mojo said...

TP,
It would be interesting to discuss how come in countries like Britain, there are almost no private universities or colleges? If i am not mistaken the only private university with a charter is University of Buckingham. Even so this university only offers " air liur" degrees such as Law, economics and Arts. Why do you think the British government is not encouraging private universities? Could it be that the exercise is plagued with pitfalls?

If I am not mistaken many years ago in Singapore we have a private univerity called University Nanyang. What happened to it? Why does it failed?

What lessons can the Malaysian government learned from these stories. It seems on paper Malaysia is very "successful" in spawning large numbers of private universities. Does that mean we have overcome the problems of operating private universities?

Economics and maintaining the standard of a university and its reputation is imortant. Can the VC or President of Sedaya and INTI justify these requirements?

What do they think is better anf why; to confer your own private university degree or run a twinning degree in the name of the established universities the degrees they offer?
What about the recent issue of Taylors College losing the right to offer the degree of a well known Australian University as quoted in your blog?

How can the private universities ensure standards and quality by short cutting quality of lecturers and lab facilities?

Black Mojo said...

TP,
It would be interesting to discuss how come in countries like Britain, there are almost no private universities or colleges? If i am not mistaken the only private university with a charter is University of Buckingham. Even so this university only offers " air liur" degrees such as Law, economics and Arts. Why do you think the British government is not encouraging private universities? Could it be that the exercise is plagued with pitfalls?

If I am not mistaken many years ago in Singapore we have a private univerity called University Nanyang. What happened to it? Why does it failed?

What lessons can the Malaysian government learned from these stories. It seems on paper Malaysia is very "successful" in spawning large numbers of private universities. Does that mean we have overcome the problems of operating private universities?

Economics and maintaining the standard of a university and its reputation is imortant. Can the VC or President of Sedaya and INTI justify these requirements?

What do they think is better anf why; to confer your own private university degree or run a twinning degree in the name of the established universities the degrees they offer?
What about the recent issue of Taylors College losing the right to offer the degree of a well known Australian University as quoted in your blog?

How can the private universities ensure standards and quality by short cutting quality of lecturers and lab facilities?

Anonymous said...

Black Mojo:

However, in the United States, there are a lot of well established private universities.

Please note that Nanyang University did not fail. It was the singapore government's desire to pool the university of singapore and NUS resources into a single, stronger entity. The merger was met with strong opposition from the university's alumni as well as the Chinese community. Unfortunately, the promotion of a single educational system based on the English-medium of instruction in pre-tertiary eduation reduced the student catchment pool of Nanyang uni, thus hastening its demise.

There is a private Uni in singapore at the moment SMU which is doing quite well.

My point is, it is not about whether the colleges or universities are public or private. It is the committment towards quality.

In terms of financial returns, I think even University such as Harvard is profit oriented as well. Thus it closes departments that does not generate sufficient fundings or income.

Anonymous said...

Private universities should then be spelt as Private univer$ities :)

cockle hunter said...

No.... it should be spelt as:

Private Univer$itieS!!

cockle hunter said...

Sorry!!

Private Univer$itie$

hamid said...

The poorness of lecturer in private or general colleges related to goverment policy for example i am a PhD student with 4 years teaching experience but they do not allow me to work cause they have to use domestic or lecturers with working visa. But teaching is a job that should be open for bests cause this determine future of a country

Anonymous said...

Is Peter Ng really a dato' or datuk? What does this augur for the Malaysian education scene when the president of a university uses a fake datukship?