‘IPTA should have its own ministry’


  • Nation
  • Thursday, 16 Jan 2020

SERDANG: Public Institutions of Higher Learning (IPTA) should come under its own ministry as there are many issues that need urgent attention.

In the last 20 months, when the Education Ministry and the Higher Education Ministry were merged, these institutions fell behind.

Urging Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who is the acting Education Minister until a new minister is appointed, to consider having two education ministries once again. Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) Administrators’ Association and General Workers Union, or Persatuan Pentadbir dan Kesatuan Kakitangan Am UPM (Kepertama), said having both under one roof was too much for one person to handle.

“It’s not former Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik’s fault. He had a lot on his plate and his focus was on schools and teachers.

“For months, we tried to meet with him but he was just too busy,” said Kepertama president Mohd Razali Singah.

Mohd Razali, who is also the deputy president of the Combined Council of Presidents and Honorary Secretaries of University Unions/IPTA in Malaysia, or Majlis Gabungan Presiden dan Setiausaha Kehormat Kesatuan Universiti/IPTA Malaysia (Gakum), said to make the country a hub for higher education, needs focus.

“Under one education ministry, the country’s 20 IPTA fell to the sidelines.

“We need a minister to give us his full attention if we are to be world-class institutions,” he told a press conference here yesterday.

He said pressing issues that must be addressed include the merger of Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) and Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA).

Last year, the Education Ministry announced that the two varsities would be merged. The proposal is still being studied, he said, but stakeholders were not consulted.

He said if IPTA continued to be parked under one education ministry, similar shock decisions would be made without input from the relevant quarters and those who will be impacted.

“We hope our voices will be heard because many are unhappy over the merger. UMT used to be part of UPM. Rightfully, a merger – if at all – should involve us.

“UMT’s focus is on marine (studies) while UniSZA’s core areas are medicine and Islamic (studies). If merged, UMT will lose its focus and drown.

“It’s better for UMT to come back to us,” he said, adding that the former minister’s portfolio was too big leading to the loss of focus on the IPTA.

The heavy workload of IPTA administrators and staff was also a problem.

He said the number of students had increased but this was not met with the increase in workforce.

“For example, we had three labs with three workers. Now its four or five labs to one worker.

“We need someone to look after our welfare.”

On Saturday, Bernama reported Dr Mahathir as saying that he would study the possibility of splitting the Education Ministry by setting up a higher education ministry as was previously done.

On Jan 10, the Prime Minister’s Office announced that Dr Mahathir would be acting Education Minister, effective from Jan 3, as decided by the Cabinet two days earlier.

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