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Students say they’re not going back to Malaysia

Students say they’re not going back to Malaysia



The scholarship arrangement with Malaysia, which was to see 100 Vincentian students given scholarships over a period of five years, is unofficially on hold.{{more}}

The majority of the original 10 students that left these shores February last year to take up scholarships at the Limkokwing University in the Southeast Asian nation have either come back home or indicated their desire to transfer from the University.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves confirmed that “a long document” was sent by some of the students, who questioned the level of accreditation of the courses they were doing at the school.

The source of the problem, SEARCHLIGHT understands, is that most of the courses being done by the students are newly formatted and have not been accredited by the Malaysian accreditation board.

One of the students who was excited by the Malaysia opportunity was Norlan Jackson. However, within a few months she had returned home.

Jackson told SEARCHLIGHT that there were other factors leading to her decision, but concern about the accreditation of the courses offered at the school was a key factor.

“Of the ten courses being done by us, the Vincentians, nine were not accredited,” Jackson, who signed up to study one of the new courses, namely Creative Multimedia, stated.

She said that she and the others became aware of the problem when some African students were also returning home, because they feared that they were being used as guinea pigs to test the new courses.

“We were upset about it,” Jackson said.

Another student who is seeking answers is Adrian Da Silva, who after coming home for vacation over the Christmas holidays, has not returned to Malaysia.

“I am disappointed, because I felt assured that things were in place, but it comes across like we were being used for a guinea pig operation,” Da Silva, who signed up to study Software Engineering said.

However, President of Limkokwing University, Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Lim Kok Wing says that the whole matter is just a big misunderstanding.

In a letter addressed to Dr Gonsalves on January 8, 2008, the professor said that “Some students may be confused over the issue of accreditation.”

“Our degree programmes are recognized across the world. We have now arrangements with several UK universities to offer double degrees – parity conforming in quality with British tertiary education,” the letter states.

He explains that it takes three years for a new programme to be accredited in Malaysia, but adds ‘It is time-sensitive, and is no reflection of quality or recognition. All programmes offered and delivered have been approved, meaning they are recognized.”

Dr Gonsalves said that because of the issue that has been raised, he has quietly allowed the scholarships to lapse, and not push to send any new students to Malaysia until the situation is cleared up.

Meanwhile, Dr Adrian Fraser, the resident tutor of the University of the West Indies School of Continuing Studies, told SEARCHLIGHT that while he is not aware of all the factors involved in the Limkokwing University situation, it is not unusual for established universities to introduce new programmes and have to wait a while for them to be accredited.

“It goes back to the institution. If it is an institution that is usually accredited, then the creditability and status of the university will speak for itself,” Dr Fraser said.

He, however, noted that it is a matter that should be approached with due diligence, because if the university’s status isn’t clear, students could have problems having their course of studies accredited elsewhere.

He also pointed to situations, especially in England, where recognized universities have offered diluted programmes to overseas students.

Dr Gonsalves, however, stands by the Limkokwing University.

He said that it was the Prime Minister of Malaysia who spoke to him about the university, and Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi officially opened the university’s UK branch.