The Penang Institute analyzed the latest data from 2013 by Malaysia’s Ministry of Education and it shows a very worrying trend: Almost a third (27%) of private sector graduates remain unemployed six months after graduation – compared to 24% among their public sector counterparts. The latest unemployment rates from the Department of Statistics Malaysia for 2015 was a solid 3.1% showing full employment. So, what’s happening? More importantly, why are Malaysian graduates, in general, not able to gain full employment?
The Institute raised this issue following the release of the Education Blueprint by Malaysia’s Ministry of Education, which seemed to focus largely only on public higher education institutions. Penang Institute General Manager & Serdang MP, Ong Kian Ming said that the lack of focus on private institutions by the government is worrisome. He added:
“The fact that the private higher education sector was largely ignored is a serious omission given that almost half of the total enrollment in post-secondary education is in private universities.”
The Institute also found other publicly-available data which spells a dismal outlook: Private universities only have 13.3# of academics with PhD qualifications versus 33.4% in public varsities – that is more than 2.5 times more academically-qualified faculty in public institutions. For private universities, close to 77% had only a Bachelor’s and Master’s while 10.5% had shockingly lower than a Bachelor’s qualification.
Based on the latest SETARA ratings – rating exercise conducted by Malaysia’s Ministry of Education – public varsities outperformed private universities with 81% of its universities rated “Excellent” as compared to only 51% of private universities. Furthermore, a third of private universities received no ratings at all.
Private institutions in Malaysia need to take a long and serious look at what this study means – the implications and worrying trends – in terms of having a mismatch of how its students are being educated versus what is needed in the real-world market. The study seems to show a growing disparity highlighting the lack of employability of graduates from private HEIs.
It is clear that this problem cannot be fixed overnight and would require concerted effort by private universities to study and assess its quality of education to bridge this widening gap. This would include not only looking at the qualifications and quality of its faculty, but taking on an eagle-overview of its entire process – talent, standards, processes, system, etc. Failure to do this alongside taking real, practical and serious steps to improve its quality of education may prove to hurt these private HEIs in the mid to long term as potential students become more savvy and wary to consider studying at a private institution.