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Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2020: The sky is the limit

April saw the launching of the Malaysia Education Blueprint (Higher Education) 2015-2025, a lengthy, impressively detailed guideline for the development of higher education in Malaysia over the next ten years. Much has changed since the last strategic plan of its kind, released in 2006. Over the last few years Malaysia has achieved a number of feats concerning access and research in higher education: Higher education enrolments soared by 70% from 2004-2014, and publications increased threefold from 2007-2012. Malaysia spends a disproportionately large percentage of its annual budget (7.7%) on higher education, more than any of its Asian peers. Still, there is much room from improvement if Malaysia is to become the world-class knowledge economy it aspires to be. The Blueprint identifies ten key “shifts” to be made in higher education.  
  1. Shaping holistic, entrepreneurial, balanced graduates who have the knowledge, skills and attitudes required not only for the current market, but to create their own jobs.
  2. Focusing on talent and excellence: Moving from rigid career development pathways towards a diversified system with a wide conception of talent.
  3. Creating a nation of lifelong learners, where continuous personal and professional development is encouraged and recognised, both in and outside the workplace.
  4. Nurturing Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) graduates, moving towards a nation that values alternatives to university education.
  5. Moving towards financial sustainability: Continuing to spend a large proportion of the budget on the higher education system, while encouraging the diversification of funding for both public and private institutions. Significantly improving return on investment to match that of peer countries.
  6. Empowering higher education institutions to steer their own course while the Ministry focuses primarily on its role as policymaker and regulator.
  7. Strengthening the ties between academia, industry, government and local communities to support innovation.
  8. Achieving global prominence: Expanding the international student enrolment to 250 000 (from 130 000 in 2013) by 2025, and becoming recognised world-wide for its academic and research expertise, particularly in target areas.
  9. Moving towards a globalised online learning by placing a heavier focus on technologies such as videoconferencing, livestreaming and MOOCs.
  10. Transforming higher education delivery by harmonising private and public institutions and remaining flexible throughout the transformation. Malaysia needs to move towards a higher education system focused on delivery, accountability, transparency and outcomes. 
Naturally, every one of these “shifts” is broken down in the Blueprint to concrete, measurable goals and a detailed plan. Some of the targets for 2025 include:
  • Increasing higher education enrolment from 48% to 70%, especially through expanding TVET, private institutions, and online learning.
  • Increasing the current 75% graduate employability rate to more than 80%
  • Placing one university in Asia’s Top 25, two in the Global Top 100 (QS Rankings) , and four in the Global Top 200 (at present only one of Malaysia’s universities is in the Global Top 200).
  • Expanding international student enrolment to 250 000 (from 130 000 in 2013).