ADUN SPEAKS | It is sad to note that the Bachelor of Pharmacy programme at Universiti Malaya that existed for the last 18 years will be axed following the instructions of the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA), an accreditation unit of the Ministry of Education and the Pharmacy Board of Malaysia (PBM).
This programme, which has churned out hundreds of graduates of high academic standards, will see its last batch of students graduating in 2021.
Why this sudden decision on the part of University Malaya, the oldest public university in Malaysia, is not known.
However, UM's Faculty of Medicine dean Adeeba Kamarulzaman said since the pharmacy programme does not have its own faculty but is constituted on an interdisciplinary basis, it has been recommended to be terminated.
This is after years of existence, although I am not sure what the members of MQA were doing all these years and why all of sudden the PBM has sprung into action to the extent of asking UM to close down its pharmacy programme.
I am not sure whether the university authorities have been warned in the past and whether they have responded to these directives is not clear. I am sure there have been correspondence on this matter, but the public is not privy to this.
Given the global curriculum changes in the course contents of various academic programmes, I am not sure whether anybody can claim to have a sole monopoly on how programmes can be conducted or taught.
If I am not mistaken, the present global trend among institutions of higher learning is toward integrating a multi disciplinary approach in imparting knowledge across academic and professional disciplines.
Whether a full-fledged faculty is needed to conduct and sustain an academic programme such as pharmacy is yet to be established.
If the pharmacy programme has been ordered to close because it did not have faculty, then such reasoning cannot be accepted.
The PBM which advised the Ministry of Education or MQA might defend its traditional approach, but surely its members should also understand that even professional courses are taught in a multi disciplinary manner in some of the developed countries.
The actual truth why the programme is closed down is not altogether clear. The UM authorities should go beyond the rhetoric of saying that the closing down of the pharmacy programme is not related to the quality of the programme, but due to “technical basis” (The Star, Sept 1).
And surely if there are technical problems, these can be addressed without undermining the programme that had existed for so long.
The UM officials should not adopt the recommendation of the MQA uncritically, if not, the UM will be merely seen as mere appendage of the larger bureaucracy.
We cannot celebrate "new Merdeka" if officials involved in the teaching and management of academic programmes are doing things that are shrouded in mystery.
The public demands transparency on this matter.
P RAMASAMY is Penang deputy chief minister (II) and Perai assemblyperson.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.