Private higher education in Malaysia: access, internationalisation and quality assurance

Loh, R 2012, Private higher education in Malaysia: access, internationalisation and quality assurance, Masters by Research, Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Private higher education in Malaysia: access, internationalisation and quality assurance
Author(s) Loh, R
Year 2012
Abstract This thesis examines the private higher education sector in Malaysia. The research focuses on how private providers have contributed in increasing access to higher education, how it has contributed to the internationalisation of the Malaysian higher education system and how quality assurance measures in the sector has evolved over a period of 15 years from 1995, when legislation was introduced to liberalise the higher education sector, to 2010.

Data was collected using semi-structure interviews with various stakeholders in the private higher education sector, and through government documentation (sourced from the Economic Planning Unit, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education) to provide a state perspective on the sector. This data was also supplemented by secondary data such as reports and publications from Malaysian and international sources.

The findings demonstrate the private higher education has played a significant demand-absorbing role in increasing access across a number of fronts, including the increasing and reshaping the domestic student demographic and diversifying the higher education sector with the range of providers available. However, the findings also demonstrate that private providers dominate at the undergraduate, diploma and certificate levels and play a limited role in postgraduate studies and research due to the high investments required for postgraduate study.

The private sector has been instrumental in the internationalisation of the Malaysian higher education sector and plays an integral part in developing the country as an education hub. Private providers attract the majority of international students, provide a diverse range of international programs and have established campuses overseas. The research also uncovers issues that hinder the sector’s ongoing international development, including the lack of inter-institutional engagement, a perceived lack of government support and difficulties offering Malaysian made courses to international students.

Finally, the research demonstrates how quality assurance agencies have evolved over 15 years to respond to global trends and local needs. Initially the Lembaga Akreditasi Negara (National Accreditation Board, LAN) regulated the private sector, while the public sector had a separate entity. LAN provided a sound regulatory framework, and gave legitimacy to the sector, but it was also problematic due to its restrictive and formulaic nature. Furthermore, there was discontent amongst the private providers regarding a lack of the transparency on how to upgrade their institutions to university status. In 2007, the government merged both bodies into a single agency: the Malaysian Qualifications Agency, to be guided by the Malaysian Qualifications Framework. The purpose of the merge was to streamline the accreditation and quality assurance processes, creating better efficiency and greater transparency for the higher education sector. Additionally, the thesis explores the challenges faced by institutions in terms of the recruitment of qualified academic staff.

This study has delivered original work that will provide a greater understanding of Malaysian private higher education as well as a greater awareness of achievements and the challenges the providers and policy makers face.
Degree Masters by Research
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Global, Urban and Social Studies
Keyword(s) higher education
private education
quality assurance
Lembaga Akreditasi Negara
Malaysian Qualifications Framework
Malaysian Qualifications Agency
higher education policy
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Created: Mon, 15 Jul 2013, 09:36:24 EST by Brett Fenton
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