Use private sector to improve public universities

I must thank Tan Sri for starting this blog.

Why? Because you have the standing and track record to make the powers-that-be pay attention when you write about our education system.

I am sure your blog will be scrutinised closely by everyone connected with education in the country – the politicians, officials, industry players, parents and students. And, because of the interest generated by your blog, it will be an excellent vehicle for the public to hitch a ride on it to voice their opinions on where our education is going.

Right now, education ranks at the top beside the economic recession and political upheaval as the most talked about issues in the country. If we care to think about it, all the three issues share the same causes, which are bungling policy-makers and inept policies.

For the longest time now, our education standards have been sliding. So many education ministers and education directors-general with PhDs have come and gone without leaving any lasting impression. They have been too busy playing popular politics instead of building a world-class education system.

Let me offer the government some basic advice. Who must you engage if you really want to improve performance, increase investment yield, and expand or further develop an organisation or industry?

You call in the experts who have solid successful track records in the particular industry.

Forget the theorists and think-tankers. They will only give you a phone directory-size report full of grand sounding ideas which are irrelevant to what is happening in the market place. They don’t know what industry needs because they have never worked in industry.

Why haven’t the government asked the private education entrepreneurs in the country to improve public universities?

There are many people in education who have done well. They are running very successful and very profitable private universities. The great number of international students enrolled in these private institutions is proof that they are doing the right thing.

How are these people able to run universities successfully and completely self-financing? That is the obvious question for the government to start a rethink if they are serious about reforming our education system.

All private business people have limited resources. That means they must find formulas that work or they are out of business. Since they have succeeded, obviously they must have found the right formulas.

I see no point in the government’s plan to introduce a programme to exchange civil servants and private sector employees on temporary secondment or attachment.

The major problems in the public sector are the out-dated system and bureaucratic mentality. These problems cannot be solved by giving civil servants a stint in private companies.

Their total dependence on government funding has removed civil servants from the reality of the market place.

Do you think, without government funding, public universities can survive even if they were to raise their fees to market rates?

Another indication that public universities have lost their way is the tens of thousands of unemployed and unemployable graduates churned out by these universities. Every year, their number is increasing and no solution has been offered while the universities chase the prestige of higher rankings on the list of the world’s best universities.

Isn’t that illogical?

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About Tan Sri Lim

Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Paduka Dr Lim Kok Wing, the Founder and President of Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, does not fit into any ordinary mould that would describe most entrepreneurs.

His journey has been closely linked with the economic and social development of Malaysia.

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