UNIVERSITI Sains Malaysia (USM) has a Master of Economic Management (MEM) programme that is specifically geared to increase the number of experts who possess a balanced blend of theory and practical economic management skills.
This course is very useful to those who are serving as administrators in both the public and private sectors, says Assoc Prof Maznah Mohamad (pic), deputy dean for graduate studies and research at the USM School of Social Sciences.
Researchers in research organisations and professional consultant firms as well as economists in financial and multinational companies would also benefit from this programme.
“It is a unique graduate economics programme that emphasises on the practical application of economic theories; thus it breaks away from the pure academic economics curriculum. The syllabus is focused on providing students sufficient grounding in the basic tools of economic theory and quantitative analysis, which can be used in analysing applied and practical issues that are relevant in a wide variety of work settings,” says Assoc Prof Maznah.
The School of Social Sciences had first offered the MEM programme in 2000, inspired by the need to impart economics knowledge as a hands-on tool to address various issues of current interest. It can be done as a full-time (12 months) or part-time (24 months) course.
Specifically for civil servants and those planning a career in the public service, the school also offers the Master of Public Administration (MPA) programme which is also suitable for those working in the private sector but for whom knowledge of the public sector is important, says Assoc Prof Maznah.
The MPA is an international programme that has been attracting both Malaysians and foreign students from countries such as Jordan, Pakistan and Thailand.
Assoc Prof Maznah says that since its inception in 1977, over 100 students have completed the course and gone on to assume higher administrative and advisory posts both in the public and private sectors. Examples include the police, prison, custom and excise departments, local and state governments, preschool, primary and secondary schools, as well as public and private higher education institutions.
She adds: “The core and elective courses provide students with the knowledge and skills needed by public administrators. They would have adequate understanding of the operational political and institutional settings, and the management skills needed for designing, overseeing, monitoring and directing the allocation and use of human and material resources available.
“Moreover they would have the necessary technical-analytical and research skills to produce quality work for senior-level administrative or political officials, as well as the capacity to evaluate and direct the work of others under their supervision.”
Assoc Prof Maznah says the school has faculty members with outstanding academic credentials to teach MPA students and provide them with sound theoretical and practical foundations of the public sector. “Seminars by distinguished speakers from various parts of the civil service also enable students to appreciate the connections between theories and practices, and the challenges and opportunities currently faced by the public service.”
There is an MPA Club to give them academic, moral and social support. It is managed by the students themselves, and its activities include educational field trips, guest lectures, seminars, annual dinner talks and recreational activities.
The MPA is available on a full-time (14 months) and part-time (28 months) basis, and in this era of information communication technology students are expected to have a basic knowledge of computer usage when they begin the programme.
Assoc Prof Maznah says during the orientation week students have to attend a workshop that introduces them to a variety of software packages necessary for their studies. After that they should be able to optimise the use of Internet facilities available at the MPA computer laboratory. Students also have access to the MPA resource room, which stores materials specific to their needs.
Enquiries regarding MPA should be directed to the dean (04-6533888 ext 3369 or e-mail email@example.com), programme coordinator (04-6533888 ext 4166 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org) or leave a message with the MPA administrative support staff (04-6533888 ext 3360 or e-mail email@example.com).
Admission information, application forms and procedures for both master programmes are available from the USM Institute of Graduate Studies. Call 04-6533888 ext 2930/2932/2039, fax 04-6532931, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or log on to www.ips.usm.my.