Varsities not ‘factories’


THE onus is on universities to produce graduates who are imbued with competitiveness and adequate knowledge so that they can find good jobs.

While it is the responsibility of these academic institutions to provide quality education to students, we need to ask ourselves if it is fair to expect universities to bear all the world’s burdens and for these institutions to provide an assurance that their students will have jobs after their graduation.

Many, including students, parents and employers, constantly blame universities for the high unemployment rate and the prevalence of overeducation among graduates.

They perceive universities as failing to produce students with appropriate skills, including English communication skills, to meet the needs of the industry despite these institutions providing a range of English courses such as English for academic purposes, public speaking and academic writing, and engaging with industry experts to ensure courses offered are current and in accordance with industry demands.

Being spoon-fed by universities is not enough to guarantee marketable graduates. They must also make an effort to enhance their value

Some subjects that are taught to students in the first year may no longer be relevant to the job market after they graduate.

Therefore, it is very important that the years spent in university should accentuate their lifelong learning. Lecturers continuously improve their knowledge through research and universities try their best to provide students with opportunities so that they have the skills to embark on a journey of lifelong learning.

That said, while you can lead a horse to water, you cannot make it drink. The students themselves must be proactive and do their part. If we understand that universities are not factories for producing workers for the industry, we will not undermine higher education institutions for not being able to guarantee that graduates will earn jobs commensurate with their qualifications.

The pursuit of knowledge should be an end in itself. What has been done by universities may be far from perfect, but the effort to ensure good quality tertiary education is still in place, and continuous improvement is still a requirement.

Perhaps it’s time to stop pointing the finger at universities for the high unemployment rate among graduates. Some employers claim that our graduates do not possess the necessary experience and skills yet they scramble to hire interns from local universities. Doe this not show that our talents are good enough for the job market?

MOHD JURAIJ ABD RANI and DR MOHD SHAHIDAN SHAARI

Faculty of Applied and Human Sciences

Universiti Malaysia Perlis

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