We call on the Education Ministry to upgrade information on learning opportunities in universities especially online, including the ways it determines the equivalent qualifications in the Higher School Certificate (STPM), Matriculation and other examinations
by Dr Tan Seng Giaw
(Kuala Lumpur, Sunday): On 16 May, 2003, the Higher Education Director, Education Ministry, Professor Dr Hassan Said announced that out of 71,625 applicants, 37,034 students or 51.71% had been accepted into universities. 17,176 students applied online compared with 114 last year.
Every year, about 500,000 students apply for universities in United Kingdom and about 340,000 are successful. Since 1993, these applicants have gone through the University Central Admission System (UCAS). Although there are only over 70,000 applicants for public universities in this country, they give the Education Ministry much headache.
We hope that every year public universities have orderly admission of students, giving students freedom to make responsible choices and each university is free to choose its students. University admission should not be affected by party politics.
The Ministry must upgrade its online information. It should use information and communications technology (ICT) to give more information on learning opportunities. Here, it has not done enough. If over 70,000 applicants had gone online instead of 17,000, could the Ministry have coped?
The Ministry stresses lifelong education. Part of lifelong education is admission to universities. Secondary school students scarcely understand learning opportunities in universities. The Ministry should review its methods of disseminating information, advice and guidance. Universities become more competitive and they take in more students. Hence, students need more information, advice and guidance. They require comprehensive, detailed, authoritative and impartial information about learning opportunities.
Last year, the Ministry said that university admission was based on merits. Public universities began to equate STPM with Matriculation, causing furor. STPM is a two-year course, having Cambridge University Examination Board representatives as external examiners. Matriculation is an in-house and one-year course. This year, the Ministry continues with STPM, Matriculation and equivalent exams. It must be accountable for ascertaining criteria for equivalent exams. including social disadvantage and inclusion. What happens to the quota?
This year, 66% of the university applicants are females and 34% males. This phenomenon is seen in many countries. Universities should be based on meritocracy, not on gender. Women also dominate the teaching profession. There is a rapid increase in female university administrators.
Why do women have better exam. results than men? We have to find out the true reasons, encouraging males to learn from the females. We hope university applicants will be 50% males and 50% females. It seems that a medical school in Singapore deliberately took in more males at the expense of females. Whatever the reasons, it was a wonder that women did not protest. Or did they? Apparently, Singapore has relented, giving equal opportunities to men and women at the medical school.
We are always keeping an eye on the university admission system in Malaysia, prompting it to satisfy the needs of the multiracial society. We cannot accept a system that veers to quota and party politics.
* Dr Tan Seng Giaw, DAP National Vice-Chairman and MP for Kepong