No political appointments for Higher Education Ministry, says Khaled

PUTRAJAYA: Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin (pic) has set his sights on regaining public trust in his ministry.

In his New Year’s Message to ministry staff on Monday (Jan 30), he said there would be no political appointments for positions within the ministry and its agencies.

"The Higher Education Ministry will be professional, fair, objective and not political," he said, adding that the leadership must be authoritative and perform in their roles.

The selection process would be strict, thorough and objective for leadership positions within the ministry and all its institutions, he said.

Mohamed Khaled also said this would be ensured by reinstating and streamlining the functions and roles of the Higher Education Leadership Academy (Akept).

He said Akept needed to do more than just select and train heads of higher education institutions.

"But more importantly, Akept must design a programme to boost talented leaders, whether from Malaysia or other developing countries, to become global-class higher education leaders," he added.

He also said a National Review Committee would be formed immediately and tasked to ensure the ministry’s plans and agenda were in line with the national aspiration of developing Malaysia Madani.

They would have three months to present their findings.

Among his other 11 points, Mohamed Khaled proposed that the national higher education sector had a unit such as Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) or Economic Stimulus Implementation and Coordination Unit Between National Agencies (Laksana) to ensure that all strategic planning was implemented and meets its targets.

He also said higher education institutions were required to present their plans to train and retain their best talents to prevent brain drain, while the ministry would hold discussions with Talent Malaysia to attract top talents overseas to return to our shores.

"The ministry proposes the preparation of a white paper on 'A New Horizon for Science, Technology and Innovation - A Strategy for Malaysia' to assess the impact and strategy in managing current and future technological disruptions to teaching, learning and governance of the country's higher education institutions," he said.

He also said the ministry could not just stop at becoming an international student’s hub.

"Malaysia needs to be a talent and knowledge hub or centre of universal knowledge," he said, adding that this would be done through reviving Malaysia's Global Reach agenda, all marketing strategies must be reviewed and student quality not being neglected.

He added that the ministry would look into access and financing of higher education including exploring the flexible education space as well as exploring the possibility of turning the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) into a national trust fund.

Mohamed Khaled also said big changes needed to be made in technical and vocational education training (TVET) as the country needed more individuals with "future-proof" technological skills and competencies.

He added that private higher education institutions' (IPTS) interests would be protected by helping them expand their influence overseas through opening branch outlets and campuses.

"The Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) must use the opportunity to collaborate with IPTS to market the Malaysian curriculum globally," he said.

He also said academic excellence at higher education institutions should be immediately returned to higher level, quality and respected with the focus being on students developing "smart and sharp skills".

"In the process of 'humanising people', students will be given more power, freedom, responsibility and room to make decisions through student movements and student unions such as opening businesses, managing the association's finances and planning their own way of working and fighting for the student agenda," he said.

"It is the ministry’s desire to return and restore trust in the country's higher education sector.

"Trust will be the most important value and Malaysians must believe in the country's higher education system," he added.

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