WE refer to the letter “Evaluating Private Education” (The Star, June 22). We appreciate the writer’s concern over the quality of the foundation programmes offered by private higher education institutions (PHEIs) as preparatory programmes for admission to undergraduate degree programmes.
As the sole quality assurance body for tertiary education in Malaysia, the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) is committed to ensuring the quality of higher education programmes offered by PHEIs.
MQA has published the Standard for Foundation Programmes in 2014, which states the award of foundation certification to students who are competent:
> To demonstrate further knowledge and understanding in the field of study which is an extension of the secondary school level;
> To apply knowledge and understanding in identifying and using data to respond clearly to concrete and complex issues;
> To communicate effectively with peers; and
> To demonstrate the skills to pursue higher education.
Foundation programmes must be no less than one year, involve two or three semesters, and offer 50 credits of courses which are equivalent to 2,000 hours of notional learning. The standards also outline the generic programme learning outcomes; curriculum design, including four commonly offered study streams; teaching and learning methods; student assessments and minimum admission requirements.
PHEIs offering foundation programmes must comply with the MQA’s Code of Practice for Programme Accreditation (COPPA), which outlines quality requirements such as qualification of teaching staff, educational resources, programme management as well as the monitoring, review and continuous improvement of the programme. Generally, the qualification of teaching staff for foundation programme is set at the minimum level of bachelor’s degree in the field that is appropriate to the subjects taught.
Compliance with these quality requirements is ensured through the MQA’s quality assurance processes, which are provisional accreditation (quality review of programme design and delivery preparation); accreditation (quality review on delivery prior to the graduation of the first cohort of students); and compliance audit (periodically implemented at least once every five years).
In addition, foundation programmes also undergo approval by the Education Ministry. Furthermore, all teaching staff must apply for and are vetted before being granted teaching permits from the ministry.
To date, MQA has accredited 306 foundation programmes offered by 153 PHEIs. These programmes are listed in the Malaysian Qualifi-cations Register (MQR), which is available at www2.mqa.gov.my/mqr for public reference.
These programmes have ensured learning pathways for both local and foreign students, and have also been widely accepted by foreign institutions. Failure to comply with these quality standards will result in rejection of accreditation by MQA.
To date, 11 foundation programmes have been declined provisional or full accreditation.
To further strengthen the foundation programmes, MQA is currently developing a National Curriculum for Foundation Programmes.
We hope this explanation will provide a better picture on the quality assurance of foundation programmes offered by private higher education institutions in Malaysia and that the writer and readers are assured that foundation programmes as pathways to higher degrees are quality assured and remain equivalent to other common certifications.
MALAYSIAN QUALIFICATIONS AGENCY
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