Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Courses offered by Public University 'subsidiaries'

A reader notified me of this latest trend among our public universities - setting up 'subsidiaries' which offer courses such as diplomas or executive diplomas which are not recognized by other public universities or the Public Service Commission (PSC). Two problems ensue - students who take up these courses thinking that they are 'recognized' courses and employers who employ these students thinking that these courses are also 'recognized'. I'll reproduce some of the NST articles below (for posterity) and then comment on the other side.

1st NST article - SpotLight/Unrecognised qualifications: 'Subsidiaries must offer accredited courses'

KUALA LUMPUR: Courses offered by subsidiaries of public universities should be endorsed by the Public Service Department (PSD) or the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA).
Former Higher Education Ministry director-general Prof Datuk Dr Hassan Said said this was to ensure that the courses would not create problems for people wishing to obtain higher qualifications or pursue career development.

Hassan explained that the corporatisation of public universities as proposed by the Education Ministry in 1998 was to enable public universities to generate external income to provide better services and facilities.

"That is why we allow universities to set up holdings, joint companies and subsidiaries to conduct business activities.

"However, these activities must relate to the core business or activities of the university," said Hassan, who is now Taylor's University College vice-chancellor and president.
He said this was how public universities started having incubators, research consultancy, distant learning programmes and franchise programmes as well as partnerships with private colleges.

Universities also diversified their academic activities by offering part-time programmes for people who were employed.

"We supported the idea as it allowed the universities to generate income and promote lifelong learning.

"For example, this allowed people who are working in supermarkets, factories and banks to continue to study without leaving their jobs"

The universities had to ensure that these programmes underwent processes set by the Higher Education Ministry to enable them to gain recognition.

"They should not compromise on quality and should have in place a proper quality assurance framework for their executive programmes.

"I think it is wrong for subsidiaries of public universities to offer something that is not recognised by national recognition bodies.

"It should be recognised unless it is a tailor-made programme for special skills requested by a company like retail training for hypermarkets.

"If it is not recognised, this could lead to the student being misled by the public university logo in the advertisement promoting the course he signed up for.

"It is unthinkable for the public that programmes by the public university are not recognised by the authorities, and worse still, not by its own university."

Hassan explained that executive programmes were the same as any programme offered to full-time students, except that it was offered the "executive" way.

"Students should understand that an executive programme is meant for those in the workforce.

"It is meant for someone who is trying to upgrade themselves."

Hassan suggested that subsidiaries of public universities look at high-end programmes such as executive postgraduates and certain types of academic programmes that the other institutions could not afford to offer.

There should not be competition between the private and public sector.

"It is inappropriate for senior public universities to get involved in low-level programmes like certificates and diplomas which should be handled by other institutions like community colleges and polytechnics.

"They should instead focus on programmes for high-end knowledge-based communities like professionals, as well as be more active in research and innovation activities.

"The huge investment by the public should be returned appropriately," he added.

2nd NST Article - SpotLight/Unrecognised qualifications: It's not quite a UM diploma

You open the newspapers and an advertisement featuring the logo of a prominent public university jumps out at you. The ad offers an executive diploma programme at affordable rates and, to sweeten the deal, it can be done part-time. But these qualifications may not be recognised by the Public Service Department or the Malaysian Qualifications Agency. SONIA RAMACHANDRAN finds out what such qualifications mean.
MAY (not her real name) wanted to know more about human resources.

An advertisement in the newspaper with a Universiti Malaya (UM) logo caught her eye.

It was offering an executive diploma in human resource management.

"I thought 'Wow! It's UM and it is not easy to get in there' so I joined and paid the deposit," she said.
"I thought it was an accredited and recognised degree as it was from UM. Classes were also held in the UM campus and that added to the impression the qualifications were UM qualifications."

Only after paying more than RM7,000 and joining the course did May realise that she had joined the University of Malaya Centre for Continuing Education (UMCCed) and not UM.

"I still thought it was all right as it carried the UM name."

On the first day of class, May said they were told their diploma was recognised by Open University Malaysia.

Their diploma was not recognised by other public universities or the Public Service Department.

"This centre emphasises life-long learning, but how is this life-long learning when there is no avenue to do so as the diploma is not recognised by any accreditation body?

"If they cannot carry out the mission statement, it is an embarrassment to say this is a centre for continuous education. It is an insult to our intelligence."

Then they found out that their executive diploma in human resource management was not even recognised by UMCCed.

"After finding out that our qualifications were not recognised by Open University Malaysia, I had no choice but to continue with my degree in UMCCed.

"That was when I was told that I could not do so as my diploma in HR management was not approved by the UM Senate," said a student who wanted to be identified only as Sarip.

A Higher Education Department officer said UMCCed was a subsidiary owned by UM and established under the Companies Act.

The qualifications awarded by UMCCed, said the officer, should be treated the same as any qualification offered by a private higher educational institution.

The National Consumer Complaints Centre (NCCC) received 450 complaints in 2007 on misleading advertisements by higher education institutions.

Last year, there were 350 complaints.

Among these complaints were those regarding courses offered by "subsidiaries" of public universities offering "executive" courses.

NCCC chief executive officer Muhammad Sha'ani Abdullah said they received complaints that the students of subsidiaries of public universities received briefings in the public university itself.

"Some of these 'subsidiaries' have a campus outside the public university but when they recruit and give briefings, they do it on the public university's premises.

"The location provides the student with the impression that the course is affiliated with the university."

Sha'ani said the Higher Education Ministry should impose some regulations on these subsidiaries.

Malaysian Qualifications Agency chief executive officer Datuk Dr Syed Ahmad Hussein said most of the courses offered by the commercial arms of public universities, particularly the executive diplomas, did not fall within the Malaysian Qualifications Framework (MQF).

"The commercial arms are subsidiaries of the universities and are subject to their rules and regulations.

"Executive diplomas and other qualifications with the word 'executive' do not fall under us.

"But we have formed a technical committee last month, made up of top scholars, to advise MQA on some qualifications like associate degrees, executive diplomas and executive bachelor degrees that are offered around the world that have not been fitted into our framework."

Syed Ahmad said while seeking accreditation was not compulsory under the MQA Act, other related higher education acts, as well as the provisions made by funding agencies and foreign governments made accreditation of courses mandatory.

The Ministry of Higher Education also makes it compulsory for programmes in all institutions of higher learning to be in compliance with the MQF by 2011.

One proof of this compliance is accreditation.

"We are aware of courses by these commercial arms and are talking to the Higher Education Ministry and the public universities to see how these courses can be brought in line with the spirit and letter of the framework."

He advised students to always check the status of their courses when they were in doubt.

"Our door is always open. We will never reject any query or complaint and will forward it to the relevant agency or department if it does not fall under us."

Higher Education Department director-general Datuk Dr Radin Umar Radin Sohadi said any programme offered by any university in any form, had to be governed by MQF.

Under the framework, he said, the learning outcome, specifications and attributes of the programmes were specified.

"MQF is flexible in the sense that the method of delivery of the course can differ so long as it meets the attributes defined.

"Universities offering programmes in whatever form have to get them accredited."

3rd NST article - SpotLight/Unrecognised qualifications: Varsity defends centre

A UNIVERSITI Malaya spokesman said the University of Malaya Centre for Continuing Education (UMCCed) was a part of the university and was considered one of its faculties.
On whether the qualifications conferred by UMCCed were recognised by the Public Service Department, he said: "Actually, no. But, you have to look at the history of UMCCed to understand this.

"The UMCCed was set up to promote lifelong learning so that a person who had no opportunity to study while he was growing up could be provided with the chance to do so.

"It is not recognised by the PSD as the target students for UMCCed are those in the private sector."

Are the courses accredited by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency, which was formerly known as the National Accreditation Board?
"Because the target group for courses at UMCCed are different from those for normal courses, there is no need for accreditation. The entry requirement for qualifications is based on working experience, so accreditation is not necessary."

So who recognises these qualifications?

"The private sector," he said.

The problem here is that many people will see the UMCCed as part of UM and think that the diplomas issued by UMCCed are equivalent to UM degrees which is clearly not the situation. Our public universities need to be more careful in setting up these subsidiaries and the MOHE as well as the MQA should monitor this trend very carefully including asking these 'subsidiaries' to highlight the fact that their diplomas are not publicly recognized. If not, both students and employers will be fooled.


WY said...

malaysians and our obsession with accreditation. Honestly, a well-run diploma program would have taught much to their participants. But alas, people signing up to these courses are not into improving themselves professionally, but merely wanting a paper qualification to 'cheat' their potential employers. Without doing proper research before signing up, the participants themselves are set up for being misled. At least the lecturer informed them at the very beginning that it is a "life long learning"..not really your typical degree mill.

And let see what MQA actually does. a diploma from UiTM is recognised, but a well taught diploma from UM is not? a degree from indonesia third rated mdeic university is recognised. Taiwan top ranked university is not.

Cannot expressed enough my frustration with the dumbwit of malaysians in general. MQA being dumbwitted doesn't help either.

Shawn Tan said...

If the UMCCed people were upfront about their courses not being recognised, I don't think that the students can blame them for anything. It is the students' fault for assuming and not checking to see if the courses were recognised. This is the same as if the students' took courses from some other private or foreign body.

However, I have two main points to say:

1) Even if a qualification is not recognised by LAN or any other university, these qualifications are sometimes recognised by the private sector. The private sector has its own prerogative in deciding what to recognise or not.

Just because a course is not recognised does not necessarily reflect on the course quality (or lack of). Sometimes, the hassle of getting a course recognised may just not be worth it. If it is merely meant to provide knowledge and learning, then there really is not point in getting it recognised.

2) UM and other public institutions, should not cheapen their names by getting into the diploma mill business. It will merely hurt their reputation by lending their 'credibility' to courses that are not accredited. If they want to get into the business, they should at least ensure that things are done properly.

Unknown said...

I agree with KAM that Malaysians are obsessed with QUALIFICATION. Many may not be conscious about these requirements, but their sub-conscious mind tells them to hire those with qualification. Hence, the need to pursue for qualification.

I also agree that any form of education or training is good for personal development. The issue here is that these Public Universities are setting up 'subsidiaries' that offer courses diplomas or executive diplomas; in direct competition with private colleges as well as Open University (OUM) that offers provide lifelong learning opportunities to working adults. These Public Universities should focus on their key functions; delivering a higher education and knowledge in meeting our national needs.

However, the over zealous capitalist academicians had decided to jump in to have a cut of the cake in education. Any Chinamen with a standard six education will tell you that Education is a billion-dollar industry. It is one of the three thriving sectors that is recession proof; Medical, Education and Undertakers.

It is only natural to assume that any certifications that come out of our Public Universities are recognised. It is just like getting medical prescriptions from a hospital that have not been approved by the authorities. Asking them to do their research before committing themselves is quite unfair suggestion as their thinking capacity and experience may not be at par as the writers (here). Otherwise, they will be heading for further education with an established institution. I realized how irony that my statement can be so contradicting, as we presume that the established institution, our public universities only churn out recognized degrees or certifications.

On MQA, I believed many of them sitting on the Board are pure academicians with katak-dalam-tempurung mentality. A professional degree recognized throughout ECC Europe is not recognized here. Wonder how benchmark or accredit these qualifications. I suspect that since they DON’T UNDERSTAND how it works, it will be safer just to reject it (first, at least). It is a typical syndrome suffered by our Malaysians. This mentality is chronically much so in the public services.

On UMCCed, they had churned out many ‘diplomas and executive diplomas’. The former Higher Education Ministry director-general Prof Datuk Dr Hassan Said had rightfully pointed out that the universities had to ensure that these programmes underwent processes set by the Higher Education Ministry to enable them to gain recognition. However, neither the Higher Education Ministry or the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) have any jurisdictions on them; since they are neither a college, university or a company. It is sitting on a no-man land where mal-practises by is left unchecked or scrutinized. Let me cite a couple of cases to support this argument:

1) A director of such ‘subsidiaries' decided to pay a certain amount (more than necessary) of honorarium to himself for conducting a lecture, talk, et cetera. He will recommend his own payment and approved it himself (as the Pengarah). And who is auditing them? The subsidiary? The University? Or which authority, MOHE, SSM?

2) There is a ‘subsidiary’ that had a joint venture with a private entity to provide an Executive Diploma program to a local Association. Thereafter, the program did not take off (for reasons that cannot be disclosed). The Association is at lost as where to go from there.

Our Public Universities (all government agencies included) are very good at covering up negative news. This is of course damage control at its best. Even heard of any news of abuse or sexual harassments by lecturers? Maybe I may be wrong, as they are all angels.

In this case, it is sad that UM had decided to put the $$$ before it credibility. No wonder our so-called premier university is sliding off list of the top (100 or 200?) universities in the world; is it still there or is it being de-listed, so fast that even I couldn’t be bothered anymore?

Wish to share an extract from an article, The Importance of Education by Miss Sarah Ahmed:

“Education plays an important role in the progress of an individual’s mind and country. Ignorance and poverty are major speed-breakers in the swift developing country and can be overcome easily through education. You can’t call yourself educated if you can read and write, get full marks in every subject and can recite Shakespeare’s sonnets by heart. A person who is educated has a certain aura around him, of dignity and wisdom. If you are educated, you don’t need to abide by the facts that the book recites, or follow Aristotle’s philosophy. An educated person builds on the facts the book says and has his own philosophy. If you are educated, you can’t have a wrong philosophy. Education is everything. People are made aware of what is going on in the wide world and can understand these issues and take necessary measures. If people are educated, it is not difficult to find a job-keeping in mind the fact that no job is low. Education tames the astray mind, nurturing its capabilities the same way training builds a clever dog.”

Anonymous said...

The educational establishment is a bit of a joke. If you have ranking tables the people doing the rankings could also be tempted to fug details if their ambition is to have some kind of kickback. Secondly, students and parents should not be taken in by the fact that ranking authorities are those that set standards. In fact when admission organizations are under investigation in the West for having their standards compromised one kind of wonder what kind of post-grads come out of those institutions too.

Finally, UM like no other institution are managed by individuals that suffer both from weaknesses and strengths. But I guess in the modern day world of avarice those notions can be misplaced too.

Education like any other questionable industry is subject to abuses and has its own problems. Main thing is not to sire offspring so that they don't have to be conned into enrolling for programs that are not recognized, or those that are recognized soon to be de-recognized either by mismanagement of the university authorities or through university bankruptcy as more than 40% of parents can't afford to send their children to study now.

Anonymous said...

this thing started when abdullah sanusi was vc

Anonymous said...

Dear Tony,

I have studied the Exe.Dip in UMCCed. After graduated, they says that we can continue our studies at Unity College which offer Bachelor degree in Mgmt, at 2nd year.
This offer looks so attractive as it was. But I have missed out the offer. Then i tried several IPTS as i would know that IPTA will not accept me. However, i have checked UMCCed website local newspaper that UM is also accepting the UMCCed grads for their business degree course at UM. I was delighted and submitted my application to UMCCed to process my application. However, bad news! The course started at Oct 2008, and I only received letter from UMCCed on Jan 09 stating i was rejected by UM without further explanation.
This was ridiculous. Then later on, i came to know abt the papers reporting for this case. Their main mission was to provide good graduates and to reposition their world ranking, but on the other hand they are not doing the right job.

Anonymous said...

Education industry must be saved from these crooks!

I am not against private education, as a matter of fact, some of the best Universities in the United States are Private. But then again care should be taken not to provide courses which are RUBBISH and USELESS. This happens not only in Malaysia but also in our southern neighbour, which despite its strict laws still got Private Education Organizations which claim to be a "full-fledged" campus of an overseas university but is not even recognised as such by the MOE, Singapore.

Commercialisation of Education= No problem

Not seeking accreditation, offering uselss courses and not looking after standards = WASTING PEOPLE'S TIME AND MONEY .

These people should be SHOT TO DEATH !!

Don't play around with people's future

It's a shame that even Public Universities can do this and mess up with people's future

will the Kementerian Pengajian Tinggi do something on this?????

Unknown said...

Those who felt cheated can lodge a police report against UMCCed.

There are cases where Tribunal had refunded fees of students who had been shortchanged by the education institutions.

Getting back RM7 to 10K is a lot of money; especially during hard times like this.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I think it's not about lodging complaints or what.

These type of institutions should not be allowed to operate


Anonymous said...

Dear All,

I am aware of this scam too. There are many private colleges offering this programme ( Executive Diploma) How can EPF allow this colleges to withdraw . There is no quality in the executive diploma . Knowledge Universe Klang have stupid lectures , they say class 6 hours but only conduct 2 hours .Waste money...

Anonymous said...

kietsu: call 03-79552657 (Adeline) for Uni. Of Wales, Newport of 012-3883310(Dr. Lourd) Uni. Of Wales, Newport.

Just for info:
2. Are Diploma programmes at UMCCed recognized by LAN/JPA?

All programmes offered by UMCCed are not listed as programmes that are recognized by JPA (Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam). UMCCed did not apply for recognition from JPA/LAN. The programmes offered at UMCCed are in the form of training catered for working individuals, particularly in the private sectors. The programmes recognized by JPA usually require the fulfillment of several criteria such as the following:

a) Diploma programmes that are offered require at least 90 credit hours (about 1260 hours of lecture/contact hours). Programmes at UMCCed do not use the credit hour system. Instead, it uses hours of lecture/contact hours. The total contact hours of programmes at UMCCed is about 300 hours.

b) The minimum period of the programmes is between 2 ½ years to 3 years, if done on a full-time basis. On a part-time basis, the duration of these programmes will exceed that particular period. The programmes at UMCCed are held for 12 to 13 months only on a part-time basis.

c) The total number of subjects/modules is usually 30 subjects (3 credit hours for each subject). It usually comprises of subject components, university, electives, etc. These programmes are entirely academic based. Programmes at UMCCed only consist of 11-13 subjects/modules. Modules offered by UMCCed are relevant to the programmes and it is compulsory for students to complete and pass all subjects.

d) The entry qualifications for recognized programmes are usually stricter, that is students are required to have a minimum of five (5) credits in SPM. The entry qualifications for programmes at UMCCed are more flexible, which means that students only need to have at least 3 credits in SPM and 3 years of work experience.

Although the programmes at UMCCed are not listed as recognized programmes, various organizations/companies accept these programmes as training programmes for their officers. Among organizations that send their officers to enroll in programmes at UMCCed are PDRM, Affin Bank, Amanah Raya Berhad, Pos Malaysia Berhad, Malaysian Airport Holdings Berhad, etc.

Apart from that, there are also officers from government sectors/statutory bodies who enroll in programmes at UMCCed albeit knowing the status of the programmes.

3. Are diploma holders from UMCCed qualified to apply for degree programmes at any university?
The programmes offered at UMCCed are in the form of training catered for working individuals, particularly in the private sectors. The issue of promotion @ Career opportunities is usually the right of the organization/company. Promotions are not guaranteed to any students enrolled in the programmes at UMCCed. However, based on the feedback from former students of UMCCed, many of them received promotions and other remunerations after completing their studies. In fact, there are students who have not completed their studies, yet are given promotions by their employees.
Diploma holders from UMCCed are currently not qualified to apply for FULLTIME Degree programmes at any public universities (IPTA), including University of Malaya because the programmes at UMCCed are not listed as programmes recognized by JPA.