Saturday, July 16, 2011

Ministry comes down hard on errant private colleges - The Star

By Richard Lim

PETALING JAYA: The Higher Education Ministry is coming down hard on private colleges which offer unrecognised courses.

The ministry has issued 47 summonses to several colleges and university colleges to appear in court for offering unregistered or unapproved programmes, and has warned that students enrolled in unaccredited and unrecognised courses run the risk of missing out on job opportunities or avenues for further studies.

The colleges were also hauled up for various other offences, such as relocation to new premises without approval; and for employing lecturers without teaching permits.

The ministry's enforcement and inspectorate division director Dr Naimah Md Khalil said the most recent cases involved two private providers which contravened the guidelines under the Private Higher Educational Institutions Act 1996 (Act 555) and this was a serious offence.

“Only the registrar-general can approve courses which have been given the stamp of quality from the Malaysian Qualifications Agency,” she said.

In the first case, a college in Petaling Jaya which specialised in fashion and jewellery design (which has since changed its branding) was fined RM120,000 for offering five unapproved courses.

Several factors were considered by the Sessions Court judge, such as the number of students enrolled and the course fee for each programme, among others.

As a result, the fine for offering a degree programme in fashion design was RM50,000 while the degree in jewellery design earned the college a RM10,000 penalty.

The second case, involving a university college in Kuala Lumpur, was more intricate as the private provider realised albeit too late that it had made an error.

Attempts to rectify the problem the offering of five unapproved undergraduate and postgraduate courses related to music were made and the judge took everything into account.

However, the college was still slapped with a RM65,000 compound fine.

On the verdicts, Dr Naimah said such action would serve as deterrents for errant education providers.

The court cases complement recently released ministry statistics, which reveal that 47 compound notices were slapped on errant private education providers from January to March this year, compared to 47 last year and nine in 2009.

The cumulative amount of compound notices issued up to March was around RM470,000.

In April, higher education deputy director-general (private higher education institutions) Prof Datin Dr Siti Hamisah Tapsir said the ministry would also get tough with colleges that use gimmicks like “free laptops and accommodation” being offered to new students.

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