UiTM re-assesses 600 part-time lecturers after funding cut

Trimming the programme will help reduce the blow from the proposed budget cuts for the university

by RAHIMI YUNUS / pic by ARIF KARTONO

UNIVERSITI Teknologi Mara (UiTM) is likely to terminate its part-time lecturer programme and trim its strategic plan after funding was slashed under Budget 2021 announced this month.

The university’s vice chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Azraai Kassim said it will have to revise its UiTM2025 strategic plan that was just launched in February this year.

He said the university will have to be “frugal” and revise projects involving physical infrastructure and facility expansions.

“We need to be frugal in our spending, as well as efficiently improve our own income generation through smart partnerships with strategic industry collaborations,” Mohd Azraai told The Malaysian Reserve.

Also being re-assessed, he said, is the university’s part-time lecturer programme that employs up to 600 lecturers, or up to 7% of its 8,000 teaching staff nationwide.

He said the programme had been due for revamp even before the cuts were announced because the university is also shifting its focus to online learning.

He said the reduction of part-time lecturers will not disrupt operations because the university has always employed them on an as-needed basis when the university brings in professionals to impart their knowledge and experience from the field.

Mohd Azraai said the number of part-timers varies in terms of semesters and student intakes.

“Well, obviously, it will (affect the part-time lecturer programme). However, what we are doing now is to focus more on open and distance learning (ODL). ODL has allowed more innovative delivery, including interactive lectures, to be conducted to a bigger group of students without the constraint of space,” he said.

He said most part-time lecturers are professionals who are employed in other fields, and that other factors such as cross-campus lectures have reduced the need for part-timers.

He said trimming the programme will help reduce the blow from the proposed budget cuts for the university, which is Malaysia’s largest education institution, producing some 45,000 graduates annually.

“Having said that, rest assured, this would not compromise the quality of our teaching and learning activities,” he said.

The government has proposed to cut almost 7% of year-on-year (YoY) funding for UiTM, from RM1.86 billion in Budget 2020 to RM1.73 billion next year, a reduction of RM129 million.

The five-year strategic plan that was introduced in February was supposed to catapult the university into global recognition.

The UiTM2025 blueprint called for strategic programmes with the following criteria: Education [email protected], entrepreneurial and well-balanced graduates, widened access, talent excellence, smart campus and sustainable funding, among others.

“We need to review and re-assess our UiTM2025 strategic plan, especially those involving physical infrastructures and facility expansions.

Faculty members said UiTM has a large annual budget to reflect its 100,000 students at 35 campuses nationwide.

UiTM Academic Association president Associate Prof Abd Rahim Awang said the reduction in allocation would affect the teaching and learning process, as well as research opportunities and cooperation with outside communities.