Ahmad Mahdzan | Noran Fauziah | Fairy Mahdzan | TeamHardCorePavement

Business of Higher Education in Malaysia:
Development and Prospects in the New Millennium

by

Ahmad Mahdzan Ayob (PhD)
School of Economics
Universiti Utara Malaysia
e-mail: click here
Noran Fauziah Yaakub (PhD)
School of Languages and Scientific Thinking
Universiti Utara Malaysia
e-mail: click here

1.0 Introduction

In Malaysia, the traditional roles of the business sector in higher education include providing scholarships and educational loans to deserving students, providing space for students doing their internships (practical work), advising universities on the curriculum, and eventually recruiting the better graduates. For example, the authors remember that in the early sixties, when higher education was somewhat elitist, major multinational oil and plantation companies and certain banks were giving out scholarships to qualified Malaysians to pursue university degrees in the engineering and accountancy fields. Upon completion of their studies, they would join the payroll of their sponsors.

Commercial banks continue to give out loans, with appropriate collateral, for educational purposes, either on fixed terms or as overdrafts to parents wishing to send their children for local or overseas higher education. Many commercial establishments welcome university undergraduates to gain practical experience in their organizations. For example, Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) undergraduates find ready hosts among banks and other commercial entities with whom they would spend several weeks to do their practical work for academic credit. UUM has even set up a special unit (upgraded to a center recently) to handle these university-industry linkages.

When Malaysian universities draw up new curricula, they would often include members of the private sector to sit on boards of studies to ensure the relevance to industry of the contents of these new academic programmes. Areas of particular interest to the business sector include accountancy, business studies, engineering and technology-based curricula. Obviously, the private sector has special interest in what the universities teach their students in these areas of specialization because businesses are the major employers of the graduates; and getting value for their money means that the new graduates must possess the relevant training that meets their needs. After corporatization of Malaysian public universities in 1997, many corporate figures have been appointed to sit as 'directors' on the Management Boards of these universities, which are in the business of higher education.


2.0 Objectives of the Paper

In the last 15-20 years, the business sector in Malaysia began to shift their focus in their roles in higher education: from being passive players to active ones. They have now become key players in delivering higher education. By getting into the arena, their involvement complements the role of government institutions in producing skilled manpower. Their active participation in providing higher education is symptomatic of a changing socioeconomic and political development in Malaysia, and a changing philosophy in higher education.

The objectives of this paper are to address the following questions:

  1. What political and economic developments spurred the growth of private higher education in Malaysia?

  2. Who are the major players in the arena and how did they get involved in international business/education partnership for the delivery of training in the Asia-Pacific region?

  3. What are the implications on the supply of and demand for higher education in Malaysia, and on its quality?

  4. How do private institutions contribute towards the diversity of curriculum deemed relevant for national development?

  5. Who make up the clientele of private higher education?

  6. What are the prospects of growth for both private and public higher education and for international partnerships?


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2 out of 12 pages

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