September 4, 2008

Lecturers Just Not Up to Par

By I.T.

WE recently celebrated our 51st Merdeka Day and, as a nation, we have come far in many aspects. Sad to say, however, in terms of tertiary education, we have not progressed much.

It used to be that when one graduates from a local university, it was with pride.

I am not sure if the same can now be said without embarrassment.

Having graduated with a degree from a private college, I was eager to gain the expertise needed for my profession by obtaining my master's degree.

I was recently accepted into a competitive master's programme at a local university.

I was delighted at having succeeded because of the stringent selection process to be one of just 11 students to join the programme this year. In two months, delight has turned to despair.

Class lectures, scheduled to last 21 hours a week, now last 16 hours. Most of my lecturers do not value class time. Once, we were kept waiting in class for an hour without any notice from the lecturer or the academic office.

Another time, class started 20 minutes late and ended an hour early. During the 40 minutes of class, my classmate gave a presentation lasting 10 minutes, I was asked to read handouts for 10 minutes, and we took five minutes to hand in our assignments.

The lecturer spoke for 15 minutes, although he kept emphasising that we had little class time to cover the course contents.

Many of my lecturers, too, are not up to par. Of the four teaching us, only one has a doctorate. I wonder how effective lessons can be when we have a lecturer with a master's qualification teaching a master's-level class.

When we ask questions, these lecturers are evasive in their answers. Most of my lecturers read off the slides. They lack confidence in their own subjects.

In terms of assignments, the university's requirement is that we use the university's style of citation and references.

This is absurd since there are more comprehensive and, most importantly, internationally-recognised ones like the APA and MLA formats.

I don't understand why a local university would insist on students using a referencing format that will not help them get published in international journals.

I also find it hard to understand why it is a requirement for course outlines to be in Bahasa Malaysia and to submit our theses with English and Bahasa Malaysia abstracts when the course is supposed to be conducted in English.

Even notes for the class are in Bahasa Malaysia. My international classmate is disadvantaged in this aspect.

My experiences and those of my classmates in dealing with the administration of the university have left much to be desired.

We have been frustrated by its nonchalance and inefficiency. Some classmates had difficulties with their offer letters which took weeks to resolve and my international classmate had to undergo countless frustrations in getting her passport back (is it legal for the university to retain her passport?).

These experiences have left me frustrated and embarrassed.

I was fortunate enough to learn and build good basics in research and concepts through my undergraduate studies as well as to experience a good undergraduate education to know that the postgraduate education that I am getting now is simply not up to standard. Is it any wonder that we seem to be moving down the ranks in international ratings of universities?


Kuala Lumpur

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