PUTRAJAYA: There are too many private colleges in the country and the Government has disallowed new ones to be set up in the next two years.
In announcing the two-year moratorium from Feb 1, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said there were more than enough higher education institutions in the country to meet both local and international demand.
“We have had moratoriums before this for fields such as dentistry, medicine and nursing.
“To us, 414 private colleges is a lot,” he said after delivering his New Year's address to ministry staff here yesterday.
As of Nov 30 last year, there were 37 private universities, 20 university-colleges, seven foreign branch campuses and 414 private colleges in the country.
Mohamed Khaled said some private institutions had fewer than 500 students, making them unsustainable.
“If too many institutions have small student numbers, we'll face a lot of problems, including these institutions closing down ... and their incomes will be affected.
“So it's better that we maintain (the current private institutions), concentrate on their quality and make sure they are the only current players,” he said.
The moratorium does not affect institutions whose applications are currently being processed, existing institutions that have applied to upgrade their status and foreign branch campuses that “rate highly in international rankings”.
On May 1, 2011, the ministry imposed a five-year moratorium on new medical courses to address the houseman glut.
The ministry had also frozen the setting-up of new private nursing colleges and diploma programmes in nursing since July 2010.
Earlier in his speech, Mohamed Khaled said the ministry would conduct an annual audit on 10 private universities and university-colleges to ensure they were up to mark.
Mohamed Khaled said the ministry would also carry out a review of the Private Education Act 1996 and a study on the higher education financing system.
“The over-dependence of tertiary institutions on government grants has resulted in a phenomenon where institutions are not cost-efficient and failing to be independent and competitive.
“The National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN), meanwhile, needs a new model to ensure it remains sustainable without abandoning the policy of equity in education,” he said in his speech.
The review of the Private Higher Education Act 1996 will start next month and be carried out by a committee headed by Taylor's University vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Hassan Said.
It will be completed by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, the study on the higher education financing system is expected to be launched in March.