National taskforce to look into plight of IPTS

  • Education
  • Sunday, 19 Jul 2020

WHILE private higher education institutions (IPTS) are doing all they can to support fresh graduates entering the job market, these institutions are also having to cope with their own challenges.

According to a Higher Education Ministry survey, at least 49% of IPTS have been operating at a loss for the past three years, and the losses are further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, said Malaysian Association of Private Colleges and Universities president Datuk Dr Parmjit Singh.

This is serious, he said, given that more than 50% of Malaysian students are enrolled in IPTS.

A national taskforce has since been established by the ministry to look into issues facing these institutions.

Parmjit said the taskforce comprises various agencies including the ministry; Home Affairs Ministry; Education Malaysia Global Services; Malaysian Qualifications Agency; Royal Malaysia Police; Economic Planning Unit; Human Resources Ministry; Finance Ministry; Ministry of International Trade and Industry; Malaysian Investment Development Authority; Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry; and PHEI associations.

“We view the establishment of the taskforce by the ministry as timely, as it provides the PHEI sector with a platform to address key issues affecting its sustainability and growth as a significant contributor to the Malaysian economy and talent development.

“This is critical and vital for the recovery phase of the movement control order as there are numerous issues affecting the sector,” he told StarEdu.

Malaysia’s positioning as a favoured destination for international students must also be strengthened, he said, as the bulk of these students are enrolled in IPTS.

This requires a multi-agency collaborative approach.

“There are also issues surrounding the regulatory framework for IPTS, which tends to apply a one-size-fits-all approach without sufficiently recognising the diversity that exists within the sector.

“This includes each institution’s operating models, governance structures, programme offerings and their unique strengths.

“This approach stifles innovation and create impediments for IPTS in their mission to meet their educational and corporate objectives,” he said.

In addition to the taskforce, four working groups have been formed to identify problematic areas and issues, he said.

The groups will then formulate proposals for the taskforce’s consideration.

“These working groups are already operational and have seen the active participation of all sectors of IPTS and the relevant agencies,” he added.

During the ministry’s monthly meeting recently, Higher Education Minister Datuk Dr Noraini Ahmad said private colleges and universities play an important role in the higher education ecosystem of this country.

“In 2018, a total of 633,344 IPTS students contributed RM31.5bil through fees and living cost collections.

“However, I know that the ecosystem is still hampered by several factors such as policies and rules that aren’t flexible, high promotional costs, and poor financial management,” she said, adding that a 84.1% drop in foreign student enrolment is expected this year, with a loss amounting to RM6.9bil.

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