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USM staff calls for more autonomy from politicians in public universities


PETALING JAYA: Staff of a public university have called for more autonomy from politicians.

Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Association of Academic and Administrative Staff (PKAPUSM) has asked that public universities be allowed to self-manage, including to review the pay packages for academicians, and to be free from laws that restrict the freedom of discussion.

“PKAPUSM would like to stress that there should be little or no political interference in our professional day to day operations. 

"Academicians are naturally accountable to the requirements of their disciplines and needs of their respective institutions,” PKAPUSM president Dr P. Sundramoorthy said in a statement.

“We are answerable to our field of knowledge and not politicians. In public institution of higher education, the academics should manage academia and not be instructed by politicians. 

The PKAPUSM president said the appointment of a university's top management should come from the respective university and not from the education minister. 

"We should elect our (own) top management especially for the post of vice-chancellor, deputy vice-chancellors and registrar,” he added.

He explained that these important positions should be determined by "search committees" established in each respective university, comprising members of two senate members, two academic association representatives, one student council representative, one industry representative and one reputable academician from other public universities. 

The search committee will submit two finalists as suggested to the university's Board of Governors.

Similarly, he said the chairman of the university's Board of Governors should be a retired prominent academician rather than a "retired senior government officer or political appointee".

Dr Sundramoorthy also stressed on the importance of non-interference of politicians and government officials in matters related to academic work.

”We strongly believe in freedom of speech and must be able to express our findings without being censored. As professionals we are fully capable of regulating our own colleagues from expressing matters that may be detrimental to national security,” he added.

Dr Sundramoorthy also said there is a pressing need to review the remuneration package that is currently being offered to academicians in public institutions of higher learning.

“Obviously we feel that the current remuneration package is not attractive and there is strong dissatisfaction especially among the young generation of academicians that there is no motivation and incentive to be productive. 

We suggest that the review of remuneration of academic staff must be chaired by a judge,” he said.

PKAPUSM also strongly urged the government to review specific laws related to institutions of higher learning. 

"For example, the Official Secrets Act (OSA) and University and University Colleges Act 1971 only hinders intellectual development and growth amongst academicians and students alike,” he said.

Sundramoorthy , USM , Penang

   

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