Varsities must probe ‘marks fixing’ claims-Tan Yi Liang theSun June 26 2009

Tan Yi Liang

KUALA LUMPUR: “Marks fixing” by universities is unacceptable and should be investigated by the respective universities, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin said.

“I think any attempt to fix marks is totally unacceptable. We cannot accept such things because it is against professionalism. We hope, if there is any complaint over such matters, an investigation will be conducted by the relevant university,” he said yesterday.

He said autonomy is important for the universities.

“This is because one aspect of our efforts to bring excellence to our universities is to give them autonomy, and one matter in which they can have full autonomy is in academic matters. It is not for the government to check and interfere, because at the end of the day it will be linked to their reputation.

 “We believe that all universities will act to ensure that this does not happen,” he told reporters after opening the annual National Higher Education Conference.

 On the matter of a Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) lecturer who was allegedly forced to resign after refusing to pass students who had failed her course, he said it is not the role of the Malaysian Qualifications Agency to police universities for such incidents.

“The role of MQA is to ensure the quality of the courses offered. It does not cover students who sit for exams.”

Such issues are for the universities to handle themselves, he said.

“If there is any plagiarism or cheating or poor standards, it is for each university (to handle) because at the end of the day it will affect their reputation.”

He said investigations into the USIM issue have been completed and it is up to the parties involved to act on them.

“As far as the ministry is concerned, we want to see that such a thing does not recur, and if it does, the matter must be investigated,” he said.

Asked on the rating system for Malaysian higher education institutions (Setara) being extended to private institutions, Khaled said the evaluation, which had been limited to public universities, was welcomed by private universities that had been invited to take part for the first time.

“The invitation to all universities have been given out, and private universities have come back and indicated they are ready to be part of the Setara evaluation,” he said.

He said a committee of representatives from public and private universities had been formed for the evaluation.

“The Setara system of ratings is not a system that seeks to punish or find fault but to see where improvements can be made,” he said.

Earlier, in his keynote address, Khaled said the higher education sector is essential for national development.

He said the sector is important for progress and development of a country, and especially important in a country like Malaysia which is transforming into an innovation-based economy.

He said the industry generated an estimated RM1.5 billion per year from some 921,000 students last year.

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