In the first keynote speech of the day, Datin Paduka Ir. Dr. Siti Hamisah binti Tapsir, Director General of the Higher Education Department, Ministry of Education, delivered an impassioned speech on the state of current Higher Education in Malaysia, outlining the growth it has had over the past several years, culminating in the recent achievements of many Malaysian Research Universities in top QS and THE world rankings. She highlighted that private institutions are gaining bigger traction compared to many public universities. In an effort to improve enrolment numbers, research impact and graduate employability, many initiatives are currently ongoing, namely in legislation changes, and streamlining the functions of the university Vice Chancellors and Board of Directors.
The role of the Minister of Education was elaborated, particularly within the appointment of university VCs and BoDs. Their functions and powers were detailed, in addition to the various blueprints and playbooks offered by the MoE. She touched on topical issues such as the purview of lecturers to give professional opinions without fear of disciplinary action, the transparency of the VC appointment process, the purported interference of BoDs in operational matters, the tenuous relationship between locals and international students, and proposing to require postdocs before employing young lecturers. She relayed the future aspirations of MoE, and our current benchmarks for the 9-point Minister’s Performance Indicators (MPIs).
As the way forward, she showcased the Malaysian Higher Education Framework 4.0, which focuses on creating future proof talent who are resilient, agile and able to learn, unlearn and relearn as the times change. In conclusion, it is important for VCs, BoDs, senate members and students to work together: if you want to walk fast, walk alone, but if u want to walk far, walk together.