All posts by Dr. YN Chow

Graduation 2016

Han Chiang College’s Graduation Ceremony for 2016 took place at the Lim Lean Theng Hall as it has been the tradition of the College to celebrate the graduation of its students at this venue. Every graduand of the Class of 2016 was eagerly waiting for the arrival of this moment for a long time as they worked so hard throughout their studies  in order to graduate with their diplomas. On September 29, 2016, their dreams come true.

yv_0001_20160929-han
Booklet of Graduation Ceremony 2016

However, since the early morning of Graduation Day, the sky was covered by the dark clouds, and it started to rain even before the event was scheduled to begin. Although it was raining heavily, it did not make any difference to the celebratory mood of the graduands and their families. Students were wearing their gown proudly, parents waited in the hall with a heart of excitement and staffs were preparing and rehearsing everything in order to make everything perfect in this memorable and important day.yv_0029_20160929-han

yv_0011_20160929-han
Preparations
yv_0108_20160929-han
The Academic Procession on stage.

Graduands from School of Communication, Business Management, Applied Creative Art and Designs and Chinese Studies were conferred their respective diplomas by the Principal & CEO of the College, Dr. Chow Yong Neng. The conferment of each graduand’s academic award was witnessed by a senior member of the College’s Board of Directors. From the faces of the graduands, we could see happiness and satisfaction all round.

Graduands posing with their respective diploma testamurs

On that day, the outstanding graduates were awarded cash prizes . Those receiving special awards for academic achievements including the best students from different schools in college, graduates who had made it to the annual dean’s list awards and etc.

yv_0200_20160929-han
Tan Jia Ying, the recipient of the Most Proficient Student in English Awards.
The Winners of the Annual Dean's List.
The Winners of the Annual Dean’s List.

Furthermore, two final year students on the College’s 3+0 degree programme in collaboration with University of Wolverhampton, Regina Hoo Lei Kim and Goh Lih Joe were awarded the Academic Excellence & Distinction Award for scoring First Class Honours in their degree studies.

yv_0176_20160929-han
Regina Hoo was receiving the Academic Excellence & Distinction Award.

Tan Yet Zhi and Toh Vern Ching from Han Chiang College, who were in their final semester in the Bachelor in Public Relations & Journalism from the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) were awarded the USQ International Partner Prizes. Han Chiang College’s students scooped two out of the eight possible awards given by USQ each year.

yv_0181_20160929-han
Tan Yet Zhi receiving the USQ International Partner Prizes.
yv_0204_20160929-han
The awards’ winners.

Graduates Leong Chia Yee from the School of Business Management and Tiang Yi Jing from the School of Communication presented their graduation speeches in English and Mandarin respectively on behalf of the Class of 2016.

Leong Chia Yee is giving the English version of the graduation speech.
Leong Chia Yee is giving the English version of the graduation speech.
Tiang Yi Jing is giving the Chinese version of the graduation speech.
Tiang Yi Jing is giving the Chinese version of the graduation speech.

After the successful conclusion of the graduation ceremony, many parents and friends of the graduates were seen presenting bouquets of flowers and gifts to the graduates. Happy and funny photographs were taken to capture these sweet and beautiful moments.

yv_0260_20160929-han

yv_0280_20160929-han
Photographs of the graduates with their friends and family.

We wish all graduates of the Class of 2016 every success whether they are pursuing further studies or embarking on working lives.

“We have graduated!”

For a full suite of photographs that captured this memorable event, please click here.

Rank colleges & universities by rate of student loan default

By Dr. Chow Yong Neng

An article in Education Drive entitled “Clinton hire signals more trouble for for-profits” caught my eye. In this analytical briefing, the author related that the hiring by Hillary Clinton of Rohit Chopra as a part of her presidential transition team would spell more troubles for the for-profit universities and colleges in the USA. The author opined that due to Chopra’s track record of exposing financial irregularities in two significant cases against for-profits (citing Corinthian Colleges & ITT Tech), any institution in the US  with high student loan default rates will be hit if Clinton clinches the presidency in November 2016.  Interestingly, Hillary Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton served as the honorary chancellor of the for-profit Laureate Group’s Laureate International University, better known in Malaysia as the owner of Inti International University and Colleges from 2010 through to 2014.

The bulk of the defaulters of student loans in the US are indeed coming from the for-profit universities and colleges. The aggressive and misleading recruitment methodology is the main cause coupled with the lower than average employability of graduates of some of these institutions in the US together created the student loan default crisis.

It was reported that till December 2015, Perbadanan Tabung Pendidikan Tinggi Negara (PTPTN) collected only RM7.9 billion from its borrowers which was much lower than the RM15 billion that it had targeted to remain financially healthy. Although PTPTN does not provide the demographic details of its 1.25 million loan defaulters, generally it is an accepted fact that the bulk of these people were students and graduates of public institutions of higher learning (IPTA) as opposed to private institutions of higher learning (IPTS). Although there has been good coverage of the consequences that blacklisted PTPTN loan defaulters  would face in the online press and personal finance sites such as  iMoney,  and even a popular motoring website, the message seems not to have percolated through.

Perhaps the power that be should seriously be considering arresting this problem “upstream”.  That is to make it harder for students from universities and colleges with high default rates to get loan or limit the number or quantum of loans for these institutions. A “league table” of the institutions with the highest PTPTN default rate (and number) should be published to make this policy more transparent. If this is implemented more funds will be channelled by PTPTN to institutions with better loan repayment records among its graduates and former students. This will have the direct effect of forcing all institutions to ensure that they produce employable graduates (who are also not underemployed).

The most heard of excuse from loan defaulters is the fact that they are unemployed or underemployed hence if PTPTN disburses its loan in accordance to the track record of the institutions (in terms of loan default rate), it will reduce the default rate and number accordingly. It is a no brainer really, you should only give out loans to people who have the best chances of repaying and minimise your risk by reducing the exposure to those with a high chance of default.

The billion ringgit question is, will the power that be and PTPTN collectively have the political will to publish this “league table” and take the same path as envisaged that a Hillary Clinton administration (if elected) would do.

Tightening of law on higher education, a good development

By Dr Chow Yong Neng

In 2005, I was privileged to have been invited by the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) to be a part of a team from the private higher education industry to help MoHE’s officials in drafting proposals to amend the Private Higher Education Act (ACT 555). The key objective then was for the industry players to propose changes to ACT 555 to tighten the law so that all stakeholders; the students, staff and the public are better protected from degree mills. Well today, 11 years or so later, finally some of the proposed amendments are going to see the light of day.

Han Chiang College, along with many private institutions of higher learning (IPTS) were invited by senior officials of the MoHE on a briefing and sharing session recently in Penang. Vice-principal Dr Beh Kok Hooi and Head of Compliance and Regulatory Affairs Ms Lee Saw Sim represented our college to this session which was well attended and many views were exchanged. The MoHE has been doing a nationwide tour to interact with IPTSs so that the officials are able to canvass and obtain feedback from as many players in the industry as possible.

In a nutshell, the proposed amendments by the MoHE are good for all the stakeholders including students, parents, and especially the IPTSs. A lot of the wordings used in the present version are being clarified and tightened up. Some notable changes proposed are:

  • For instance “branch” now is specifically referred to a branch of an IPTS with university or university college status only and it has excluded branch campuses of foreign universities such as Monash University and Nottingham University.
  • Clear definition of different categories of IPTSs will also be added to clarify matters further.
  • Since a college or a university is not exactly a legal entity by itself the amendments included the referral of all legal entities accountable and responsible for an IPTS to the company with the ownership of the said institutions.

I have heard from the grapevine in the industry that the MoHE might also be relaxing its interpretation of the term “company” to allow non-government bodies with ownership of IPTSs to do so directly without incorporating a company or a “Sendirian Berhad”.

Sweeping power of the Registrar General
However we have voiced our concerns on the sweeping power granted to the Registrar General in rejecting applications by IPTSs to the MoHE for some clauses of the proposed amendment without the need to specifying the reasons. This implies that there is no recourse for the affected IPTS if faced with such as situation. A decision based on an ACT that cannot be challenged in court where no reasons for the said decision would be required from the official concerned is not fair to the affected party. We have indicated this concern in our feedback form to the MoHE.

Flexibility on Compulsory Subjects
An interesting amendment is in the “Compulsory Subjects” section where it is proposed that the Registrar General will be empowered to exempt any students from having to take these subjects. Presumably this provides some form of flexibility especially for Malaysian students under certain circumstances which might not permit them to take such subjects. This is indeed a good addition in which deserves our full support.

Death Knell for bogus institutions & degree mills?
There is a proposed addition to the section dealing with establishment of an IPTS which reads,
“No person shall ….(d) carry on or promote any activity leading to the award of certificate, diploma or degree; or (e) award a certificate, diploma or degree without successful completion of a course of study”. This addition hopefully will deal the death knell to all the degree mills who are set up as bogus (but physically real) institutions. But it omits to cover those that are trading fully online!

Penalties doubled
The penalties for violation of ACT 555 have been revised upward. Persons convicted of violation of some of the clauses of ACT 555 covered by the “General Penalties” are now liable to be fined up to RM50,000 (from the previous RM10,000). The penalty for continuing offence is proposed to be raised from RM500 per day currently to RM1,000. Hopefully these will serve as a deterrent for all to toll the line.

Although there has been a drastic drop in cases of degree mills in the news lately, but with the advent of e-commerce and ease of electronic fund transfer mean that many of the “brick and mortar” degree mills have indeed moved online. In most cases there would be “willing buyers” – those intend to use fake qualifications to cheat and “willing sellers”  –  those who profit from their degree mills businesses. The proposed amendments (tabled by the MoHE), unfortunately did not cover this “willing buyers” aka the cheaters. Perhaps there are other laws (laws relating to cheating for instance) and employment contract’s clauses (employment law) on false declaration that might cover the “willing buyers” part. However, I feel that ACT 555 could also make it an offence for anyone who knowingly present false credentials (or credentials not approved under any part of ACT 555). This will take care of many, including some senior politicians who have been caught being the “willing buyers”. As it is, there is no specific law to tackle this sort of “willing buyers” with many, including those in high offices getting away with their acts of cheating. I think that since degree mills are not the only sources of fake degrees as some vendors do provide very authentic looking fake testamurs from public institutions of higher learning, it may take more than amendments to ACT 555 to cover all aspects. However, I feel that the inclusion of a clause in the amendment of ACT 555 to punish the “willing buyers” of degree mills’ “products” may also serve as a good deterrent. When there is no demand, there shall be no supply!

All in all, the MoHE’s effort in making changes to ACT 555 to protect all stakeholders is a commendable move that deserves the support of everyone.