IPTA intake date changed due to fasting month???

January 5th, 2011 by poobalan | View blog reactions Leave a reply »
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The new year has just begun and we are already facing few hot stories. The new Bandar Tasik Selatan Transport Terminal fiasco may not be affecting many of us, but the shifting of the new terms for local universities from July to September surely received shocked looks. Students (and parents) are left wondering what they are going to do with the extra 2 months holiday. Some forward thinking students are unhappy that their studies will take longer to finish (I really don’t understand what’s the hurry to enter workforce when student time is the most enjoyable time – can’t wait to work and earn your 1st million?).

Anyway, today’s Star’s report on the shifting of IPTA terms for 2011 would have angered more people. The ridiculous reason given was fasting month will cause orientation activities harder to organise and to save cost for Hari Raya travel by students!!!

The Higher Education Ministry has clarified that the timing of the new university academic calendar – which starts in September this year – was made in consideration of the fasting month and Hari Raya.

Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said that it would be difficult to carry out orientation activities during Ramadan and it decided to delay the starting date after consulting university heads.

He added that students would return to their hometowns for Hari Raya after a month of study (had the starting date not been changed) and thus, the latest move would avoid additional travelling expenses.

Mohamed Khaled said although the synchronisation of the academic calendar to mirror countries in the Northern Hemisphere was intended, the ministry had planned to do it in stages to avoid sudden changes.

Under the original plan, new students would start their term on July 25 this year and Aug 13 in 2012, before a permanent date of Sept 2 was reached in 2013.

“Orientation cannot be done during this period (Ramadan) as it involves day-to-night activities and extensive commitment from the students,” he told a press conference at his ministry yesterday.

Mohamed Khaled said that he had talked to student leaders and they agreed with the ministry’s rationale.

Many, he said, were keen to spend Ramadan with their parents while older students preferred to resume their studies in September.

This year’s Ramadan is expected to start on July 31 or Aug 1, with Hari Raya to follow a month later.

While new students must register at their respective universities in the first week of September, no date has been set for older students and it is the prerogative of universities to decide on the matter

Funny, but I don’t remember any official being so concerned about Deepavali clashing with university exams. But here, they are very concerned over orientation activities and travel expenses?

And is it applicable for the IPTS? Are they going to force IPTS to follow as well, whereas in IPTS orientation is not so rigorous and travel expenses for holiday is least priority?

I think the people who come with these decisions and excuses should be flogged in public for spoiling our country’s name, and for making us look like fools.

To me, it looks like some firefighting excuses after their initial blunder. Let’s look at the earlier reports below. Earlier said everything standardised, now saying up to respective universities to decide for existing students. Duh!

The way the announcement was made made the ministry and IPTs look foolish indeed. There seems to be lack of coordination and communication with the IPTs. It seems the idea was discussed way back since 2009:

The start of the new academic term for public universities in September should not cause any confusion as these institutions of higher learning had been notified about the change, said Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.

His recent statement that universities would start their new term in September this year instead of July was not “ground-breaking”, he said.

“They should know about this new calendar. The universities have been informed,” he said when questioned why some university students had not been informed of the change.

“It was not a new announcement as the minister (Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin) had mentioned this several times in the past.

“I was just confirming things to reporters who sought clarification,” he said yesterday.

AND YES, it seems the new term will start in September 2011 for ALL programs and ALL IPTAs. In fact, even private colleges and universities will be affected as well.

According to the Higher Education Deputy Minister, the reasons for the “alignment” are two-fold:

This is to align the academic term with that of universities abroad, he told reporters here yesterday.

Saifuddin said it was also aimed at circumventing public and private IPTs from losing outstanding Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia candidates to foreign universities.

“These bright students hardly have enough time to pick the best local IPTs after the SPM results, and ultimately they choose to study overseas, particularly in Singapore,” he said.

In addition, he said local IPTs failed to attract foreign students from pursuing their studies here as the academic term beginning July was not aligned with the summer break semester system abroad.

I really can’t believe that we are catering our education system to attract foreigners when local students themselves are having problems funding studies locally.  As it is, we seem to be attracting foreign students from certain developing countries only.  Are we looking at education as a money-making industry or as a tool to improve our local human capital?

Or does it got something to do with the our IPTA ratings which seems to score low on foreign students intake?

For the IPTS, they will have multiple intakes in a year and are able to cater for foreign students. You can see scores of students from Middle East, African continent, South Asia sub-continent, Eastern Europe, and China coming in throughout the year. I doubt the “alignment” will cause a major impact. And I don’t expect students from developed countries to make a beeline to Malaysia just because we changed the time of our IPT intakes.

As for the second reason that we lose our students to foreign countries like Singapore, well, another flimsy reason that doesn’t make sense. People would like to go where there’s quality education and to seek new experiences. Even below average students want to go to overseas to study. Some students enrol in foundation or pre-uni programs immediately after SPM in order not to WASTE time, and continue their studies as soon as possible. Pushing the intake dates further won”t be helpful because now the local IPTs have to compete with foreign colleges/universities.

Further more, “bright” students are snapped up by JPA/MARA/GLC scholarships. So why worry about them? Worry about the balance 80-90% average and below average students la. Where are your priorities?

Also, the shifting of IPT intake may affect entry into STPM and drive students towards private education. Let’s take a student taking SPM in November 2011 as an example. He gets his SPM results in March 2012 and enters Form 6 in July 2012. He sits for STPM in November 2013 and gets his results in March 2014. He enters IPTA (hopefully) in September 2014. Compare that to student who continues with a one-year foundation or pre-uni program in IPTS in January 2012 (using SPM forecast results). By early 2013, he would be enrolled in a degree program. That’s nearly 20 months ahead if compared with STPM pathway (currently the gap is 18 months). For the poor (and also mainly  non-bumiputra) students, they have to sacrifice nearly 3 years to gamble on a chance to enter IPTA to do a degree program.

This may mean that STPM will soon become extinct, but then, what are the alternatives for the students? They can’t afford to enter private colleges/universities, so end up in the workforce or apply for diploma level programs only?

I think the “alignment” should have been done gradually – this year start term in August, next year in September. (as per today’s report). Then the two months gap won’t exist. Secondly, the alignment should be done in tandem with the school system (especially STPM). Maybe can reduce STPM to one-year program or convert it into matriculation program (similar to government matriculation colleges) but open for all races. When you have a long gap between results and the intake, I worry that students will look for alternatives elsewhere, which will lead to brain drain.

So, who’s going to resign or this bungling act? Being in Malaysia, don’t expect the top people to do so. They’s just find some scapegoats or just wave the issue away.

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