Calls for univer­sity au­ton­omy

New Straits Times - - Higher Ed -

UNI­VER­SI­TIES should aim for au­ton­omy and ac­count­abil­ity which is cru­cial for the growth and devel­op­ment of the higher education sec­tor in the coun­try said In­sti­tute for Democ­racy and Eco­nomic Af­fairs (IDEAS) chair of higher education Pro­fes­sor Tan Sri Dzulk­i­fli Ab­dul Razak re­cently.

Speak­ing at the National Higher Education Con­fer­ence 2017: How to Make Our Uni­ver­si­ties More Au­ton­o­mous? last week, he added that uni­ver­si­ties are cur­rently op­er­at­ing like a bu­reau­cracy rather than cen­tres run by in­tel­lec­tu­als.

“This con­fer­ence serves as an­other mile­stone where is­sues re­lated to univer­sity au­ton­omy are be­ing re-ar­tic­u­lated af­ter a pe­riod of in­ten­sive re­search and con­sul­ta­tive dis­cus­sions cul­mi­nat­ing in the his­toric meet­ing of minds.

“This is a defin­ing mo­ment for higher education in Malaysia, es­pe­cially in uni­ver­si­ties, to once again put for­ward the agenda of univer­sity au­ton­omy on a national plat­form. I am very op­ti­mistic that we will ar­rive at an­other high point to el­e­vate our uni­ver­si­ties as au­ton­o­mous and ac­count­able in­sti­tu­tions,” he said.

The National Higher Education Con­fer­ence 2017 was held as a fol­low-up to IDEAS’ com­par­a­tive study on mended the abol­ish­ment of the Uni­ver­si­ties and Univer­sity Col­lege Act to be re­placed by a National Higher Education Act.

Also present at the con­fer­ence were Higher Education Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Idris Ju­soh and Yayasan Sime Darby gov­ern­ing coun­cil mem­ber Tan Sri Dr Wan Mohd Zahid Wan No­ordin, who led the com­mit­tee tasked with mak­ing rec­om­men­da­tions to im­prove higher education in Malaysia in 2005.

The Wan Zahid re­port made 138 rec­om­men­da­tions to Par­lia­ment and in­cludes pro­pos­als for aca­demic free­dom, fi­nan­cial au­ton­omy and self­gov­er­nance in uni­ver­si­ties, many of which were adopted by the Malaysia Education Blue­print Higher Education 2015-2025.

Wan Zahid said: “I am pleased that the govern­ment took into ac­count our call for au­ton­omy in the Higher Education Blue­print. Through this project, nev­er­the­less, we hope to strengthen cur­rent higher education poli­cies in Malaysia to bol­ster our in­sti­tu­tions fur­ther.

“This project, which aims to strengthen cur­rent higher education poli­cies, is in line with Yayasan Sime Darby’s ob­jec­tive of com­ple­ment­ing the Malaysian govern­ment’s ef­forts in en­abling so­ci­ety to gain qual­ity higher education for the fu­ture of our coun­try.”

Yayasan Sime Darby sup­ported IDEAS’ re­search and ad­vo­cacy ini­tia­tives based on the rec­om­men­da­tion and find­ings from the com­par­a­tive study.

Through­out last year and ear­lier this year, IDEAS con­ducted four round­table dis­cus­sions with rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers from the govern­ment, pub­lic and pri­vate uni­ver­si­ties as well as think tanks on the topic of au­ton­omy and ac­count­abil­ity of uni­ver­si­ties.

Four pol­icy pa­pers were also pro­duced on the dif­fer­ent as­pects of au­ton­omy: the his­tory and epis­te­mol­ogy of uni­ver­si­ties, the his­tory of au­ton­omy, fi­nan­cial au­ton­omy, and ex­am­ples of univer­sity au­ton­omy from around the world.

The pro­posed new National Higher Education Act in­cludes:

∙ In­sti­tu­tional au­ton­omy, par­tic­u­larly the trans­fer of ad­min­is­tra­tive con­trol to in­de­pen­dent

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