03 November 2009

Law to back academic freedom in Australia

Article from: The Australian

DRAFT legislation to enshrine academic freedom and limit ministerial interference in university research could be released next year.


09 October 2009

2009 Times Higher Education-QS World University Rankings

Top 400
180 Universiti Malaya
291 Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
314 Universiti Sains Malaysia
320 Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
345 Universiti Putra Malaysia

When could a Malaysian university get into the top 500 Shanghai Jiao Tong University Academic Ranking of World Universities?

13 July 2009

THE: Principled message of freedom for universities

Times Higher Education, 18 June 2009

Unesco group calls for global ombudsman and index to bolster academic values, writes Phil Baty

An international ombudsman to uphold the "principles and values" of higher education should be established alongside a global index of academic freedom.
These are the key recommendations made by senior figures in European education who gathered in Romania's capital Bucharest last month to attend the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation's Forum on Higher Education.
The proposals are made in the "Bucharest Message", which will be submitted for validation to Unesco's 2009 World Conference on Higher Education in Paris next month.
In light of the global financial crisis, it states that "higher education and research are now entering a new stage of development", and calls for the restoration of the central role universities once played in supporting democracy, culture and social cohesion.
The message proposes that universities adopt codes of conduct on ethical teaching and research practices, and ensure that "civic values, democracy, justice and tolerance" are institutionally embedded to become "integral learning outcomes for all students".
But the key recommendations are the creation of an international ombudsman and a global index to rank nations according to their commitment to university autonomy and academic freedom.
The Bucharest Message says: "Institutions of higher education promote values essential for democratic society, as well as for the cultural development of society and the personal development of individuals.
"For this very reason, higher education cannot be separated from values and ethics. They are, together with academic freedom and institutional autonomy, key tenets of higher education."
But it adds: "The recent financial crisis has illustrated that a lack of such qualities and competencies can bring about overwhelming negative consequences.
"Furthermore, only with academic freedom and ... autonomy are higher education institutions able to strive for truth and further knowledge in order to contribute to ... sustainable development."

Paths to legitimacy
To protect these core tenets of the academy, Unesco calls for the establishment of an international ombudsman with a remit to "resolve conflicts related to principles and values of higher education".
Bastian Baumann, secretary general of Italy's Magna Charta Observatory, who led the debate on "values" at the meeting, said that discussions focused on the need for an ombudsman, rather than the details of how it would work.
The question of its powers and remit "depends on where such an ombudsman would be established", he said.
"If it had official powers, it would have to be created by, for example, Unesco, on a sound legal basis. If it was created by a different body, it would need to derive its legitimacy from an endorsement by the global higher education community.
"The powers in the latter case would not be of a legal nature, but rather an ethical and social one. They would be derived from the general endorsement of ministries, universities, students and their organisations, in which they would state their willingness to co-operate with the ombudsman."
Professor Baumann said that the ombudsman's need for independence could prevent it from being established within Unesco, which is an intergovernmental organisation.
"Given the sheer volume of possible cases, it would also be limited to severe violations of the fundamental principles and values of academia," he said.
However, he added that disputes between universities and public authorities could also be tackled.

Index-linked freedom
The Bucharest Message also calls for international support for plans to set up a global index on academic freedom.
Professor Baumann said that the index would "provide transparent information about obstacles to academic freedom in specific countries".
This could result in a ranked table, similar to Transparency International's Global Corruption Barometer, he said.
As many in the international higher education sector feel threatened by the prospect of years of economic austerity, the message also warns against narrowing the focus of university research to tackle purely financial problems.
"The support of all areas of study and research needs to be ensured, thus not only focusing on areas of immediate commercial interest," the message states.
Jan Sadlak, director of Unesco-CEPES, Unesco's European Centre for Higher Education, said it was vital that the plans be adopted at the conference in July.

The international economic downturn is likely to inflict long-term damage on the quality of higher education, Unesco delegates have warned.
In their "Bucharest Message" to July's World Conference on Higher Education, they said that the recession is "changing the context in which higher education will function in the years to come".
The message adds that "cost-cutting measures" are adversely affecting academic staff's employment conditions and professional development.
"The consequences of such measures could lead to a long-lasting negative impact on the quality of higher education," it states.
The message adds that now more than ever, the notion of "academic moral solidarity" should become the norm and a source for seeking new paths to international collaboration.
It identifies sub-Saharan Africa as an area in particular need of support, and warns against the dangers of "academic protectionism".

NEAR: The World Conference on Higher Education, 5-8 July 2009, UNESCO, Paris

The World Conference on Higher Education will be held in July at UNESCO headquarters in Paris on the theme of “The New Dynamics of Higher Education”. It follows the 1998 World Conference, which was important for recognizing higher education as a key factor in the progression of nations and their people, for sustainable development and for human rights as well as for democracy, peace and justice.

Higher education values- academic freedom, institutional autonomy and social responsibility including respect for human rights- were a major thematic discussion at the 1998 conference and an important component of the concluding plan of action and UNESCO’s activities in higher education in the decade since. NEAR and Scholars at Risk (SAR) have submitted a platform, urging the organisers and participants of the WCHE to ensure that higher education values remain a major theme of the 2009 conference, as they were in 1998. Specifically we have asked for:-
1.) Further dissemination of the 1997 Recommendation Concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel and also further dissemination of information about existing mechanisms designed for ensuring such standards are put into place.
2.) More discussion and activities with regard to UNESCO’s complaint procedures relating to breaches of academic freedom and a review of the steps taken to involve organisations that represent higher education communities in activities aimed at promoting and defending their academic freedoms.
3.) Leadership from UNESCO, in the form of a directive or other broadly distributed statement and related activities, on the responsibility of the higher education sector to assist higher education professionals displaced by threats experienced in their own countries and a specific plan of action to deal with the grave threats and many thousands of refugee scholars from Iraq.
4.) Leadership from UNESCO in establishing an annual International Academic Freedom Day to highlight the importance of academic freedom, institutional autonomy and social responsibility not only for the education sector but for all members of society.

The Executive Director of NEAR has been invited to speak at the event as an expert on academic freedom issues.

For more information about the conference, please visit UNESCO at:

23 June 2009

Latest from University World News

IRAN: Post-election violence spreads to universities
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UK: Allow students arrested on terrorism charges to study


18 May 2009

The World Conference on Higher Education: 5-8 July 2009, UNESCO Paris

"The New Dynamics of Higher Education" is the theme of the World Conference on Higher Education. It will bring together key stakeholders to forge a new commitment to the development of higher education. A global platform for innovative thinking, the 2009 World Conference will take stock of the changes in higher education and research since the last World Conference in 1998, address the dynamics shaping the strategic agenda for the development of higher education and identify concrete actions to meet national development objectives and individual aspirations.


03 March 2009

ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA

Education Outcomes of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA

The Australian Government has issued a series of ‘fact sheets’ on the outcomes and the gains to Australia of the recently concluded free trade agreement between ASEAN and Australia and New Zealand. Please find below ASEAN countries commitments in respect of education services, as set out in the trade in services fact sheet. The extracts from the fact sheet have been slightly edited to make them more readable.

Normally the services chapter of an FTA covers movement of persons from one country to another in order to supply a service. This FTA is unusual because it contains both a chapter on trade in services and a separate chapter, and accompanying schedule of commitments, in respect of the movement of natural persons. Consequently commitments in the FTA in respect of movement of persons to supply education services, as set out in the Movement of Natural Persons fact sheet issued by the Australian Government, are reported separately below.

Education Services

Malaysia has committed to allow joint ventures in higher education with foreign equity up to 51 per cent, subject to the relevance of courses to Malaysia’s education objectives.

Laos has committed to allowing foreign higher education service suppliers to establish a commercial presence, e.g. a university campus, with up to 100 per cent foreign equity.

The Philippines has committed to allowing 40 per cent foreign equity in the establishment of education institutions to engage in twinning programs in the fields of agriculture, industrial, environment, natural resource management, engineering, architecture, science and technology and health-related programs.

Vietnam has committed to reduce the experience requirement for Australian teachers in higher, secondary and other education services (including foreign language training) from five to three years. It has also agreed in the FTA to expand its World Trade Organization commitments on the fields of study that can be delivered by foreign education suppliers.

The expanded list of fields of study is as follows: agriculture, architecture, building, business administration, management, computer science, construction information systems, dental services, economics, education, engineering, environment, surveying, health, community services, land and marine resources, animal husbandry, language studies, law, legal studies, life sciences, manufacturing, mathematics, medical science, medicine, multi-field education, nursing, pharmacy, physical sciences, science, services, culinary and hospitality, transport, veterinary science, visual and performing arts.

Thailand has committed to allowing 49 per cent foreign equity in foreign language tuition services.

Movement of Natural Persons and Education

The Philippines has made commitments that cover not only services suppliers, but also goods sellers and investors. The former include specialists under contract as part of a higher education twinning or bridging program in the fields of agriculture, industrial, environment, natural resource management, engineering, architecture, nursing, midwifery, science and technology and health-related programs. The period of stay is one year, which may be extended.

Malaysia has made commitments providing for temporary entry and stay of lecturers and experts and professionals (subject to numerical caps) and contractual service suppliers in higher education, for periods of stay up to ten years.

Thailand has committed to allowing temporary entry for teachers employed or invited by firms established in the secondary, higher, adult education, and foreign language tuition services sub-sectors. The period of stay is one year with the possibility of an extension.

For further information, please email me at tmurphy@nteu.org.au. Recipients of this document who wish to examine the original fact sheets and other material from the Australian Government on outcomes of the FTA should go the website of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, www.dfat.gov.au. The full text of the FTA can be found on this website.

Ted Murphy
National Assistant Secretary

06 February 2009

Skim Perkhidmatan Pensyarah

Semasa sesi dialog Majlis Perdana Perkhidmatan Awam antara Pak Lah dengan kakitangan awam pada Rabu, 4 Febuari 2009 lepas, seorang ahli akademik telah menimbulkan mengenai Research U dan Apex U. Beliau telah menyatakan RU dan AU nampak gah dari segi peningkatan dana penyelidikan tetapi tidak ada banyak perubahan di aspek lain seperti skim perkhidmatan staf universiti. Bagi para akademik, mereka ditekan untuk membanyakkan penyelidikan dan banyakkan paper tetapi tidak diberi lebih banyak peluang dan ganjaran untuk naik pangkat. Ini bukan sahaja dihadapi oleh RU dan AU tapi juga universiti yang bercita-cita untuk jadi RU.

GERAK bercadang untuk menulis satu kertaskerja mengenai penambahbaikan skim perkhidmatan pensyarah untuk diserahkan kepada Pak Lah dan KPT pada hujung bulan ini. Tolong beri pandangan dan cadangan anda untuk satu skim perkhidmatan pensyarah yang mampun menarik dan mengekalkan para akademik didalamnya.

Antara persoalannya ialah:
Perlukah diadakan skim perkhidmatan pensyarah yang berbeza untuk AU, RU dan U biasa?
Atau satu skim untuk semua?
Patutkah pensyarah AU dan RU mendapat ganjaran yang lebih?
Apakah ganjaran yang adil untuk pensyarah?

05 February 2009

UUCA Amendments 2008

GERAK Press Statement on the amendments to the University and University Colleges Act

18 August 2008

GERAK, a registered society that has been actively supported by academic staff associations and unions of all public institutions of higher learning, and hence being a voice of the more than 23,000 academicians in these institutions, is of the opinion that in order for Malaysian universities to improve to the “world class” standard touted by the government, the following elements must be in place:

- Academic freedom for staff to teach, conduct research and disseminate research findings and opinions, without fear or favour
- Student autonomy to associate and express opinions in a free and open manner in order to expand their intellectual and social horizons thus ensuring graduates who are worldly, and intellectually mature
- A university culture based on intellectual integrity and academic merit
- Autonomy of universities to make decisions in the best interest of academia and society and not political interests

GERAK is pleased that the Ministry of Higher Education has started the process of amending the University and University Colleges Act (UCCA); however we are doubtful that the amendments will make any significant changes that will lead to the elements mentioned above. Although input from GERAK was obtained in July 2006, the amendments that are being put forward in the proposed bill have not satisfactorily addressed many of the concerns voiced two years ago.

In particular, we are concerned about governance, integrity and academic freedom and among the matters we are concerned with are the following:
- The committee proposed by the amending bill to choose the Vice Chancellor is a vague entity with no clear terms of reference and no indication of its membership. It is uncertain if they will be a true “search committee” which has the freedom to advertise for the post of VC or whether they will play a mere short listing role, working with candidates proposed by the Ministry. It is also unclear if the Minister has final discretion ij the choice of VC.
- The same worries and doubts apply to the composition of the Board of Directors, Senate and the selection of Deputy Vice Chancellors and Deans as well as the rules and criteria that will be used in the selection and running of these governing bodies.
- On the face of it, students have greater freedom to join organisations; however the restrictions on joining political parties and “illegal organisations”, raises problems. Regarding political parties, there is no logical reason provided in the explanatory notes, why a student has fewer rights than a non-student citizen. Regarding “illegal organisations”, this is a broad group which could include bona fide NGOs which have trouble registering with the registrar of Societies. Furthermore, the VC still has very broad discretionary powers to name any group or organisation as banned for students.
- Student expression is limited to “properly organised” forums like seminars etc. This goes against Article 10 of the Constitution which guarantees a right of speech.
- The proposed new section 15D which states that students charged with a registrable offence may be suspended by the VC goes against the principle of the presumption of innocence.
- The proposed removal of section 16A of the UUCA means that all staff disciplinary matters is now under the Statutory Bodies Discipline and Surcharge Act (SBDSA). The SBDSA is a law which covers the entire civil service and it is very restrictive, especially on the freedom of expression. Academics in public universities, although being paid by the government, are working under very different circumstances from civil servants and thus should not be subject to the same disciplinary rules

Due to the very short time the draft bill has been available for discussion and based on the serious concerns above, GERAK implores that the bill amending the UCCA is not debated in Parliament until further public discussion can take place in order for any changes to the UCCA to be meaningful and for it to be able to move our universities towards “world class” standards, which GERAK believes is what both the universities and the government wishes for.

Prof. Wan Abdul Manan Wan Muda
Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (GERAK)
(Malaysian Academics Movement)

03 February 2009


Khabarnya ramai diantara kita tertekan oleh universiti kita untuk mengejar atau mengekalkan status Apex atau Research Universiti. Kita menghadapi tekanan amat berat untuk menambahkan penerbitan jurnal ISI. Penerbitan jenis lain dipandang rendah. Buku-buku tak main. Ini supaya universiti masing-masing nampak baik semasa audit RU tahun depan dan juga untuk ranking THES. Ada juga universiti sampai tidak lagi terima permohonan PhD/Master dari mereka dengan CGPA kurang dari 3.0. Pemohon PhD yang dah ada master pun tidak diterima jika CGPA masa undergraduate kurang dari 3.0. Nak jadi pensyarah bukan hanya perlu ada PhD tapi juga CGPA masa undergraduate mesti lebih dari 3.0. Tak boleh 'taubat' selepas dapat CGPA rendah.
Dimanakah dia kesarjanaan di universiti kita? Adakah perlu kita ikut telunjuk THES-QS, sebuah money-making, non-academic organisation?


12 January 2009

Mr. Ehud Olmert
Prime Minister of Israel


Please Stop the Bombing and Massacre of Palestinians

We, the undersigned, representing more than 50,000 academics in various institutions of higher education in Malaysia, would like to record our sadness and dissatisfaction in the way the War of Gaza is being conducted. We deplore any loss of human lives whoever it may be, but also find it deplorable that 100 Palestinians have to die for every dead Israeli in this very one-sided ‘war’. No amount of explanations can justify the fact that the Israelis, with their protector, the USA, are killing innocent civilians, including women and children.

We are specifically saddened with the news of the bombing of the Islamic University of Gaza. With the bombing, the already minimal facilities for education of thousands of students in Gaza, has now come to an end. So too the continued strangling of Gaza will end the education of many young Palestinians. This in turn will effect the future development of Palestine and Gaza in particular.

To argue who is right and who is wrong in the war would be a never ending affair. However, we demand that this war be fought with full compliance of the Geneva Conventions. We demand that all civilian and civilian buildings (houses, mosques, hospitals) be protected and not to be targets of your military aggressions. In particular, we demand that you and your government show respect for the sanctity of academic institutions such as universities and schools. History has shown many times that a civilization would start to decline when schools/places of learning are destroyed and books burned.

Thank you for listening.

Prof. Wan Manan Wan Muda,
Chairman, Malaysian Academics Movement (MOVE/GERAK)

Faisal Mustaffa,
General Secretary, Private Higher Education Institutes Academic Staff Union (KAPTS) <faisal@bukitbendera.org>

Prof. Dr. Mohamed Aslam Haneef,
President, International Islamic University Malaysia Academic Staff Association (IIUMASA) mdaslam@iiu.edu.my

Abdul Halim B. Abdul Majid
Secretary General, Academic Staf Association of Universiti Utara Malaysia (PERSATU) mailto:ahalim@uum.edu.my

Assoc. Prof. Dr Yahaya Ibrahim
President, Academic Staff Association of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (PKAUKM) ya@ukm.my

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Junedah Sanusi
President, University of Malaya Academic Staff Association (PKAUM)

Prof Dr. Omar bin Shawkataly
Vice President, Academic and Administrative Staff Association, Universiti Sains Malaysia (PKAP) <omarsa@usm.my>

Dr. Mohd Hasnain Bin Md Hussain,
Acting President, Academic Staff Association, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (PPAU) <hhasnain@frst.unimas.my >

Ab Latiff Ishak
President, Academic Staff Union Universiti Teknologi MARA (MITASA)


Datuk Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
Prime Minister of Malaysia

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