Malaysia move to catch market

September 19, 1997

MALAYSIA is to grade public and private universities and colleges as part of its campaign to become a world-class centre for education.

The south-east Asian country has ten state universities, four private universities and three others run by Tenaga Nasional Berhad, Petronas and Telekom Malaysia respectively, along with 280 private colleges.

Education minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak said the rating system was also an exercise in openness and would serve as a benchmark in providing international standards of education. The results will be disseminated at home and abroad.

The Penang-based National Research Institute for Higher Education, which opened this summer, is to conduct an annual survey. It will grade according to the quality of teaching, research and development, and the contribution the institutions make to society.

Asked if the new system was being introduced because the current standard of higher education was not satisfactory, Dr Najib said: "The main objective of this rating system is merely to ensure continuous improvement to our education system, and to provide a more competitive education environment."

Dr Najib said the research institute was to be a think tank for higher education issues and would help the National Council on Higher Education to develop guidelines. Publication of its research will assist students and parents in making the right choice in obtaining a superior quality education, he said.

Baharuddin Salleh, of the University Sains Malaysia's school of biological sciences, has been appointed its first director.

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