Lax academic standards and complacency risk undermining Britain's position in the lucrative Malaysian higher education market, quality watchdogs have warned, writes Phil Baty.
In its third audit of British universities' activities in Malaysia, the Quality Assurance Agency said that some had failed to learn the lessons of earlier reports and were insufficiently aware of new rules in the wake of Malaysia's clampdown on unscrupulous providers.
QAA director David Cairns said UK higher education was popular with Malaysians but he warned: "The UK higher education brand could be compromised if any institution failed to safeguard the academic standards of its awards or the quality of provision for which it was responsible."
The auditors "found that the level of knowledge of the Malaysian regulatory environment varied among the UK institutions". They also had reservations about the common practice of allowing Malaysian students to enter the final year of a UK degree course after a two or three-year preliminary course at a local private partner.
"UK institutions need to ensure that output standards of the private college's provision are matched to the entry requirements of the UK programmeI In some instances, more could have been done to ensure and confirm the appropriateness of the [college's] programmes as a preparation for the demands of a UK final-year honours programme," Mr Cairns said.