Historical background of higher education
Ever since the Federation of Malaya gained independence in 1957, theMalaysian education system has been developing so as to unify the nationstateand to promote economic growth. The Education Act of 1961,which followed educational reform efforts such as the Razak Statementof 1956 and the Rahman Talib Report of 1960, has governed the moderneducation system in Malaysia. These educational reforms correlated withsocioeconomic conditions. In the early 1970s, the New Economic Policy(NEP 1971), or Bumiputera Policy, was implemented. The NEP aimedto bring about a better balance in enrollment among the different ethnicgroups in Malaysia. 1 It resulted in a steady increase in the number ofBumiputera students in Malaysian universities. Furthermore, since theearly 1970s, the Malaysian government has sought to make more effectiveuse of the nation’s Malay human resources in the process of economicdevelopment, and the percentage of Malay students at every educationallevel has increased steadily.Basically, the Malaysian education system follows a 6-3-2 structure,with six years of primary school, three years of lower secondary school,and two years of upper secondary school (see Appendix 1). Eleven yearsof basic education are provided to all citizens. However, the highereducationsystem has been limited to the elite citizens of the country. Performance in the public examination, known as the SPM (SijilPelajaranMalsyaia/Malaysia Certicate of Education), which is taken after theeleventh year of school, determines whether FormIV students can enterpost-secondary education (matriculation, or six Form). Until the mid-1990s,the Malaysian government encouraged students to study overseas in theU.K., the U.S., Australia, or Japan.The 1st phase of the establishment of public universities started in1969 under the Universities and University Colleges Act. During this time,UniversitiSains Malaysia (USM 1969), UniversitiKebangsaan Malaysia(UKM 1970), UniversitiPertanian Malaysia (UPM 1971), and UniversitiTeknologi Malaysia (UTM 1975) were established (see Table 1). Moreover,four public universities were established during the second phase (fromThe Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) was created on 27 March 2004 to take charge of higher education in Malaysia which involves more than 900,000 students pursuing higher education in 20 public universities, 33 private universities and university colleges, 4 foreign university branch campuses, 22 polytechnics, 37 community colleges and about 500 private colleges. The MOHE’s mission is to create a higher education environment that will foster the development of academic and institutional excellence. It is in line with the vision of the government to make Malaysia a centre of educational excellence and to internationalise of Malaysian education. Higher educational reform and the roles of private universities in the mid-1990sIn the mid-1990s, four educational acts were implemented: the EducationAct of 1995, the 1995 Amendments to the University and UniversityColleges Act of 1971 (1995 Amendments to the UUCA 1971), the PrivateHigher Education Institutions Act of 1996 (PHEIA 1996), and the NationalCouncil on Higher Education Act of 1996 (NCHEA 1996). With theimplementation of the Private Higher Education Institutions Act of 1996,the private sector increased its involvement in providing tertiary education(Malaysia 2001). The Act allowed private institutions of higher educationand foreign universities to establish franchises and degree courses. Inparticular, private-sector universities were encouraged to offer science andtechnology courses in order to increase enrollment at higher-educationalinstitutions and to produce a greater number of highly skilled graduates(Malaysia 1998: 122). Six private universities, Malaysia Multimedia University (MMU), UniversitiTenagaNasional (Uniten), UniversitiTeknologiPertonas (UTP),UniversitiTunAdbul Razak (Unitar), International Medical...
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