Call For Effective Solutions To University Placement Issue
By Nik Nurfaqih Nik Wil
KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) -- The issue involving excellent students who failed to secure places in public universities each year must be resolved in an effective manner to prevent recurrence.
National Professors' Council education and human capital development cluster chief Professor Datuk Dr Zakaria Kasa said this was vital if Malaysia was serious in achieving the vision of becoming international higher education excellence centre by the year 2020.
"How can we take more international students when our excellent ones can't even secure places in local universities?" he said when contacted by Bernama here today.
Zakaria said this in response to the issue where 18,000 excellent students were reported to have failed to secure places in public universities despite meeting all the admission requirements.
On July 15, Deputy Education Minister P.Kamalanathan was quoted as saying that only 41,573 out of 68,702 students who applied to pursue a degree course for the academic session 2013/2014, were offered places.
The following day, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in his tweet, advised the students not to give up and feel too disappointed as the Cabinet would discuss and find best possible solutions to the issue.
In this context, Zakaria said the government should consider using a certain mechanism in providing sufficient places, including by giving financial aid to the students to pursue their studies in private institutions of higher learning (IPTS).
"We have to understand that besides being well-established institutions, the other reason for these students wanting to enter public universities is because it is less costly than IPTS, but it is impossible to take them all.
"Hence, we hope the government or any relevant quarters will give them some financial assistance. Make optimal use of the IPTS. We have 20 public universities in the country, but the number of the private ones is much more than that.
"We cannot depend of public universities alone to offer places to these students, especially if it involves critical courses," he said.
Zakaria, who is Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris vice-chancellor, said such a system had been practiced by the Korean government without any problem.
He also expressed hope that IPTS nationwide would play their roles in helping the government to achieve the target to have 200,000 foreign students pursuing their studies in Malaysia by 2020.
While remaining positive of the chances for the 18,000 students to secure places in public universities, National Association of Bumiputera Private Higher Educational Institutions Malaysia (PKIBM) Professor Emeritus Datuk Abu Azam Md Yassin said the number of IPTS was sufficient to accommodate them.
He said Malaysia has twice the number of IPTS with university college status compared with public institutions of higher learning (IPTA), including those offering critical courses.
"So, I don't think there is a problem to accommodate them, including in critical courses. Besides, most local IPTS have less students," he said.
Abu Azam, who is also chairman of Kolej Teknologi Darulnaim board of governors, said both IPTA and IPTS were accredited and monitored by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency, and hence the quality of education in IPTS was also guaranteed.
"It's just that the number of places in IPTA is limited, that is why the government established the IPTS to accommodate the rising number of students in the country," he said.
Abu Azam also lauded the Education Ministry's proposal to ask the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) to introduce a scheme to ease students' burden in paying their fees in IPTS.
Meanwhile, Parent Action Group for Education (Page) chairwoman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim called for the examination-based assessment system to be reviewed as too many students had managed to score excellent results.
"It's good, but they are just too many. We have to review the system because if we have too many excellent students, they may not be the valuable assets anymore.
"Now, it's just hard to determine whether our students are simply smart or have we lowered our benchmark," she said.