Thursday, June 19, 2008

More students at IPTS vs IPTA

It won't be long before the number of students in private colleges and universities (IPTS) in Malaysia outnumbers those in the public universities. The ratio is approaching 1:1, according to a recent Star report. What are some of the implications? What are some of the challenges?

I reproduce the newspaper report below so that we can preserve the statistics on this blog.

GEORGE TOWN: The enrolment at private institutions of higher learning (IPTS) is increasing and almost at a 1:1 ratio with that of public institutions of higher learning (IPTA), said Deputy Higher Education Minister Dr Hou Kok Chung.

He said the 2007 intake saw 167,788 students enrolling for undergraduate courses at IPTS and 190,265 at IPTA.

This, he said, was in contrast to the total number of 365,800 students who are now pursuing undergraduate courses at IPTS and 507,438 at the IPTA.

"The IPTS is getting stronger and more important," he told a press conference Monday after a meeting with senior executives of IPTS at Trader's Hotel here.

Dr Hou said the meeting was a forum to interact with representatives from IPTS to brief them on the latest matters involving the ministry’s policies, and to hear their issues and proposals.

Among the matters addressed Monday were the ongoing establishment audit of 200 IPTS, increasing the intake of genuine foreign students, the issue of lack of teaching staff, and the restructuring of IPTS.

Dr Hou said 17 out of 33 active IPTS in Penang had approval to take in foreign students, adding that there were now 571 foreign students out of the 34,634 IPTA and IPTS undergraduates in the state.

He said the target was to have 80,000 foreign students enrolled in higher education institutions throughout the nation by 2010.

"There are now about 50,000 foreign undergraduates, with about 34,000 of them enrolled in IPTS," he said, adding that there was no quota for the IPTS while the IPTA was only allowed to take in 5% foreign undergraduates starting last year.

My impression of private colleges and universities can be summarized as such:

There will be a gradual differentiation in the quality and reputation of private colleges and universities. In fact some of this is already happening. There will emerge a handful of IPTS which will challenge the IPTA as research universities. Sunway Monash and Nottingham are obvious candidates. There will be other 'home grown' IPTS which will want to or be pushed to the direction of being research universities.
There will also be another layer of IPTS who don't have research aspirations but will be known for offering good facilities, courses and teaching. In addition, I suspect that there will also be some specialized IPTS which focus on certain types of courses - design (LimKokWing) or IT (Informatics). And then there will be a scattering of smaller IPTS which offer 'value for money' courses.

With as many students entering IPTS compared to the IPTAs, their importance will only grow and will have a big impact on the skill levels of the work force, the research activities in our universities, the job creating potential in the education sector and so on.

But there are also many concerns associated with the rapid expansion of the IPTS, including:

1) The quality and number of lecturers needed to teach the growing number of students in these institutions. While a PhD is not really necessary to teach or to teach well, one wonders what kind of quality control the IPTS have in regard to training and equipping lecturers to teach the courses they need to teach.

2) The type of courses being offered. Most IPTS offer commercially viable courses in a small number of areas - business, accounting, computing, economics, engineering, sciences. While the types of courses have expanded with competition and more IPTS, one wonders if these are the ONLY types of courses that should be offered at IPTS. Will there be a separation of markets such that the 'non-marketable' courses such as forestry, archeology, Islamic studies and so on are only offered at the IPTAs?

3) The growing number of foreign students. The problems associated with this are manifold. I generally feel very sorry for many of the foreign students who are given very skewed impressions of what it is like to study in a private college in Malaysia and then are very disappointed when they come here. Some blame has to be attributed to the aggressive agents in countries like China to are given financial incentives to 'recruit' students to come to Malaysia. There are also problems associated with 'students' coming to the country under a student visa as a cover to conduct illicit activities. Generally, I think its a good way for the country to earn foreign exchange and for private colleges to expand but there needs to be a greater level of self regulation on this front.

The expansion of the IPTS has more positives than negatives, in my opinion. It provides another avenue of job creation for the country, it gives different options to Malaysians who want to earn a degree, it earns foreign exchange for the country and it can contribute towards human capital development. But that doesn't mean that there are huge challenges associated with the rapid expansion of IPTS, some of which have been mentioned here.


Anonymous said...

What is of concern, is why are more people choosing private institutions over public ones?

Is it the costs? Is it the professionalism?

Because this is going to affect our national research capabilities and funding issues.

If our public institutions cannot attract the bright ones to advance our technology, then we are surely in for trouble as we fall behind significantly in technological research and advancements.

And that public institutions are funded, also on the basis that they are national assets providing us with research advancements and educating the brightest for investments. If they cannot attract the brightest, then they lose a great reason to be publicly funded. The accountability to the use of public funds on these institutions, then, will be in question.

I hope this wakes up the top management of the public institutions. They are on the chopping board, now.

Anonymous said...

I do not know whether to laugh or cry over the newspaper article that the students ratio or gap of IPTS:IPTA is closing. What we have read is merely the statistics that is of trivial type. It underlines the significance of the quantity over quality in the education sector, which has certainly become a lucrative business here as in other countries like US and UK as seen in the partnership/twinning programmes. While this development signifies the progress that we have 'made' thus far as a nation, it still has got a long long way in terms of human capital development and the overall mentality of the students or graduates.

Anonymous said...

Definitely there will be getting more students enrol themselves in private universities while the quality of local public universities is declining.Some of our brightest students were rejected by our public universities or not being offered the course of their choice. Some students rather choose MMU,UTAR,IMU etc than UKM,UPM and UTM to pursue their dreams,not to mention these students could easily obtain PTPTN study loan while studying in these private universities. The policy of using English as teaching medium is not strictly followed by the teaching staff in public universities may be another factor of which loses its edge to the private universities. The uneven racial proportion and growing Islamisation in some public universities may have caused some non-Bumiputra students opting to the other options.MOHE should pay serious concern over this trend and review its policy to improve the conditions of public universities and to make them more competitive in the ever changing world.

TsuChong said...

I really think that the MOHE should strictly monitor the quality of lecturers and tutors in IPTS.

Many students were blinded by nice facilities, nice brochures, exaggerated recognition.

I've had a friend who's enrolled in a IPTS, and his class was cancelled for quite sometime because there was no lecturer.

Anonymous said...

At least IPTS lecturers speak better English than those in IPTA.....
Secobd, in IPTA there are too much constrains on what students can or cannot do such dressing code, social activities. Better go to IPTS and enjoy life rather than being strangled by so many rules and laws.
In IPTA you cannot wear boob tubes or jeans that show yr tummy...woweeee
Go to IPTS man! Enjoy life

Anonymous said...

Everyone has been complaining why NUS come here to take talents. But why you don't ask us why we go NUS?

If our own public and private Malaysian Universities are up to mark, and have the substance that NUS has, you think we don't want to stay home with our parents?

Instead of improving, what I see here is administrators from IPTA and IPTS attacking each other.

Anonymous said...

My following experience explain why there are more students choosing IPTS over IPTA.The majority of UM students speak Malay rather than English.Their mastery of English is extremely astrocious regardless of race.I was speaking to a Chinese student at their Kompleks Perdana Siswa(KPS)when i had a roadshow there,he reacted nervously and spoke in very broken English.I think we have overly expected the university and its students.Some students there reflected to me that some lecturers refuse to use English in their lectures and the students also tend to speak in their respective mother tongue.IF this is the case,I wonder how would UM improve and make their name in the international stage.No wonder there are getting more students choosing private universities or going abroad

Anonymous said...

Why did I go to IPTS?
So that I dont have waste two years in Form 6.
Looking back, it is indeed a waste of time instead of the one-year A Levels.
Furthermore, as a non-bumiputra, what guarantees I have that I will be admitted to IPTA with my preferred course choice even though I have good results for STPM?

On the negative note, there are also students in IPTS with terrible lousy results with atrocious command of English regardless of race (like what Ivan Lim said)!!
Go ahead and build more Chinese schools and see what happened to our command of English today!

Anonymous said...

ipta more better than ipts in term of lecture quality and environment, mostly student go to ipts because got bad result in spm lol hahhahahah

Anonymous said...

I finished my STPM in 2009 and I continue my studies in IPTS rather than IPTA because I found that IPTA quality of teaching and recognize of certificate very value in oversea point of view. I had spend my 6 months holiday after STPM exam to work in Singapore engineering company. My team leader and supervisor advise me not to study in Malaysia IPTA because it will hardly get a job in Singapore due to low value of certificate even if you get a job but you will receive lower salary comparing to IPTS student. This make up my mind to choose IPTS so I not going to fool my 4 years degree in IPTA end up with jobless.

For your information I have scored cgpa 3.6 cgpa in STPM but I withdrawed my application to IPTA.