Reviewing VC’s tenures a step in the right direction for academia

Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan

Modified 23 Jun 2018, 4:26 am

LETTER | Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan (Patriot) fully supports Education Minister Maszlee Malik’s call in not renewing the tenures of vice-chancellors and deputy vice-chancellors who are seemingly there more please the leadership of the previous corrupt administration than bringing up the standard of education in their universities.

Patriot joins others in a belated praise for Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s government in deciding to do away with the National Professors Council.

Generally, we have nothing to be proud of in the performance of our highly politicised public universities. To those in education field, it is common knowledge that plagiarism is rife in academia even though it is not publicly acknowledged. In some cases it is even condoned.

There are a number of factors contributing to plagiarism in academia. A common and convenient excuse is the availability of modern information technology where cut and paste becomes easy and done without attribution to the original author.

The mushrooming of our institutions of higher learning into an education hub to attract thousands of students from the certain countries does not help but lower the standard of English which is necessary for writing essays and academic papers.

A lacklustre attitude to teach among academics, plus failure to instil integrity and honesty early towards students; all these led to a standard of education much to be desired.

Patriot still holds to the maxim that there are no bad soldiers, but only bad generals. Trained early in our military careers the principles of good leadership, there was no room for any mistake as casualties would be inflicted and lives would be lost.

In academia, if students are not doing well, the blame should be on the vice-chancellor, lecturers, and those in top management. When vice-chancellors work towards pleasing their political bosses, so do their heads of department, lecturers, and management staff.

Promotions are not based on merits, but on the strength of their obsequiousness to the vice-chancellor.

The Malaysian Academic Movement (Gerak), which is Patriot’s esteemed collaborator, has submitted a comprehensive paper, Higher Education Reform in Malaysia, to the education minister. Patriot fully endorses the suggested reforms by Gerak. There are several and among the highlights are:

  • Restructure university administration. A university has no place for those only good at singing praises to the government. Membership of board of directors, university senate, and faculty heads needs review.
  • Abolish/amend laws that stifle academic freedom. The Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 needs repeal. In place, an enactment of the Freedom of Information Act is necessary.
  • Widen access to higher education institutions.
  • Uphold meritocracy.
  • Introduce creative pedagogy and alternative assessment practices.
  • Review academics’ key performance index (KPI).
  • Dissolve the National Professors Council.
  • Provide a safe and inclusive working environment. This is against sexual harassment and prevent savage ragging to cause harm and even death.
  • Stop unethical academic practices – plagiarism, cheating, and academic bullying.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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