Discussion on Private Higher Educational Institutions Act 1996

(4-5 November 2009)

About 50 participants – mostly senior representatives from private higher educational institutions - attended a two-day seminar cum workshop on the implications of amendments to the Private Higher Educational Institutions Act 1996 (Act 555).

The event at Berjaya Times Square Convention Centre, Kuala Lumpur was organised by WOU’s Centre for Professional Development and Continuing Education (PACE).

WOU deputy vice chancellor (Strategy, Planning and Continuing Education) U K Menon noted on the legal status of private higher educational institutions, including non-traditional education service providers, under the Act. He said legislations prior to1996 limited the setting-up of private higher educational institutions, requiring under different legislations either authorisation from the Regent or invitation from the Ministry, and even prohibiting at one point the setting-up of private higher educational institutions.

SELC Dean Assoc Prof Dr Edwin Malachi Vethamani (centre) flanked by the speakers, U K Menon (right) and Paul Linus Andrews (left).

SELC Dean Assoc Prof Dr Edwin Malachi Vethamani (centre) flanked by the speakers, U K Menon (right) and Paul Linus Andrews (left).

He also touched on the audit of private higher educational institutions, recognition of Advanced Diplomas as a pathway for lifelong learning, a flexible medium of instruction, compulsory subjects and policy changes pertaining to student bodies. He voiced out concern that the Act describes educational institutions and the company behind the institutions as two separate legal entities.

The workshop examined the drafting of the constitution of private higher educational institutions which must be submitted along with any application to establish an institution. It also looked into the relationship between the company, institution and chief executive, where the company is the legal entity with the power to transact and contracts are made with the company rather than the institution.

U K Menon in action during the seminar cum workshop.

U K Menon in action during the seminar cum workshop.

Menon also spoke the “Position and Liabilities of directors of companies Establishing Private Higher Education Institutions”, clarifying the commercial nature of the educational institutions, and how legislation affects the positions of directors and other officers of the company when attempting to establish a private higher educational institution.

Meanwhile, in discussing “The Enigma of the Chief Executive”, he delved into the appointment of the chief executive and his/her role as the middle person between the Ministry and the educational institution. He said the chief executive must be separate from the company in the managing of the respective institution to protect the interest of the students, company and Ministry.

Sunway University College’s Head of the Law Department, Paul Linus Andrews, talked about the power of the Ministry of Higher Education and the Malaysian Qualifications Agency to disapprove the submission of a new programme. On the subject of “Categories of Universities and University Colleges under the Present Legislation”, he told of the procedures to set up universities and university colleges, and the differences in the structure and constitution of the various categories of universities.

Andrews delivers his talk.

Andrews delivers his talk.

Litigator Nasema Jalaludheen spoke on “Student Discipline and Conduct” and “Drafting of Student Disciplinary Regulations”, explaining how to deal with student offences, and constructing regulations that provide natural justice along with statutory provisions.

The last speaker, Dr. Parmjit Singh, President of the Malaysian Association of Private Colleges and Universities (MAPCU), presented “The Liberalisation of Higher Education”, stating that private higher educational institutions need to be more liberal in order to operate effectively and be more competitive in the face of market demands.

The speakers pose with the participants.

The speakers pose with the participants.

The closing Q and A session discussed the drafting of constitutions to protect the institution from students who commit an offence, mediation with a student over an alleged offence before resorting to investigations, and the use of contractual obligations of the student to safeguard the institution when a student commits an offence.