Private colleges strive for new courses to meet current job market

IR4.0 will require more interdisciplinary teaching, research and innovation in universities

by NUR HANANI AZMAN / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

PRIVATE higher education institutions (PHEIs) are reevaluating the content and curriculum framework to ensure educational relevancy that is aligned with the labour market’s current need.

Taylor’s University deputy VC and chief academic officer Prof Dr Pradeep Nair said the IR4.0 will require more interdisciplinary teaching, research and innovation in universities.

“The idea is to provide students with the right balance in knowledge, skills, creativity, business acumen, networks and an entrepreneurial edge to not only land the career they desire, but to carve a path for themselves and start their own organisations and businesses, if they so choose.

“With these considerations in mind, we have launched new undergraduate and post-graduate programmes: Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Robotic Design and Development; Bachelor of Social Science with Honours (Social Innovation & Change); Bachelor of Social Science with Honours (International Relations); Bachelor in Fashion Design Technology (Hons); Masters of Clinical Psychology and Bachelor in Accounting (Fintech),” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) in an email reply.

Skills mismatch has been a persistent issue in Malaysia where the expertise of job-seekers, particularly fresh graduates, does not match industry requirements.

The increasing level of underemployment, where people are working at jobs below their qualifications, could lead to social unrest, mental problems and higher crime rates, and escalate to other economic woes as the nation struggles to get back on track with all the necessary recovery plans.

Monash University Malaysia VP (Education) Prof Beverley Webster said they are currently working on a number of new degrees including Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Bachelor of Applied Data Science, Master of Artificial Intelligence and Master of Applied Engineering.

“We are also constantly reviewing our current degree offerings to ensure that they are providing students with skills and experiences that will prepare them for the jobs of the future.

“Our experience is that employers expect graduates from all degrees to be flexible, adaptable and creative and we will continue to emphasise these skills in our curriculum along with disciplinary knowledge,” she told TMR.

On enrolment of foreign students, Monash University Malaysia president and pro VC Professor Andrew Walker said about one in four students are not local.

“Many of them have returned home as a result of Covid-19, but they have been able to continue their study through our high quality online education programmes.

“We have dedicated wellbeing support for all students throughout their studies with Monash University Malaysia to ensure they can cope with the changes during the pandemic,” he added.

Monash University Malaysia will commence a new semester in late July fully online.

“We will resume on-campus activities when it is safe to do so, prioritising students who need access to laboratories and practical sessions. We will continue to work flexibly with all of our students to ensure that they can continue to progress in their degrees and graduate on time.”

The National Association of Private Educational Institutions president Assoc Prof Elajsolan VM Mohan said regardless of courses offered, the PHEIs always offer courses based on market demand to stay competitive.

“In general, PHEIs are adapting to the market demand and courses that are not in demand will be phased out. In line with the call by the Ministry of Higher Education, PHEIs are embedding the requirements of IR4.0 into its offering to meet the future job market,” he explained.