KUALA LUMPUR: All accredited courses offered by private institutions of higher learning will be rated as either very competitive or competitive by 2005, said Education Minister Tan Sri Musa Mohamad.
These indicators would help the public to gauge more accurately the quality of education offered at private universities and colleges, and for students to make a more informed decision when selecting an institution of study.
Musa said four criteria lecturers, curriculum, facilities and management systems would be used to rate the courses on a 100-point scale.
Courses that score 85% and above would be rated very competitive and those between 70% to 84.99% would be rated as competitive.
For those below the 70% mark ... well they would have to buck up, he told reporters after the ministry's post-Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
The proposal to rate institutions of higher learning was first mooted by former education minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in 1999.
National Accreditation Board (LAN) chairman and chief executive Datuk Dr Mohamed Suleiman said then that institutions would be rated in either one of four bands very competitive, competitive, least competitive or not competitive.
Musa explained that the decision to use only the top two bands to rate institutions was because the bottom two bands meant nothing.
We will only be rating courses accredited by LAN so they would have to be of a certain quality.
There is no sense in talking about being least competitive as people want to know if a course is competitive or not, he said.
Asked if accreditation would be made compulsory, Musa said the law did not allow it although institutions that are worth anything would want their courses accredited.
As at December last year, 317 courses from 77 institutions have received accreditation status.
Musa also said the National Higher Education Council had agreed to merge LANs minimum standards recognition and accreditation status under a common accreditation.
This means that all institutions would have to seek only one accreditation, he added.
On the rating system, Musa said the Malaysian Association of Private Colleges and Universities (Mapcu) and National Association of Private Higher Educational Institutions (Napei) had agreed to it in principle.
Mapcu secretary-general Dr Lee Fah Onn welcomed the announcement, describing it as a way forward for the private education industry.
If Malaysia wants to be a regional centre for education, then it is essential that we have such transparent quality assurance procedures in place, he said.