By Professor Dr. Pradeep Nair
Taylor’s University welcomes MOHE’s recent announcement stating their intention of introducing hybrid programs at the varsity level in addition to shortening the duration of study for some programs from four to three years. Overall, both moves will bring about more flexibility, reduce financial burden, and help students graduate and join the workforce earlier. This development will ensure that underserved communities have access to tertiary education during economic uncertainties in this post-pandemic world.
We value the good intention of the new policies especially when the economy of the country is recovering post-pandemic. That said, we urge the government and universities to ensure the implementation is effective without compromising the quality of graduates so that the employability of the graduates will not be compromised.
To that extent, there are a few areas of focus in terms of hybrid programs that both MOHE and universities can emphasize to ensure the quality of both learning and graduates are not compromised during the implementation:
- It is best that the government ensures the students’ learning locations have access to the internet for online learning purposes while computer and software applications will need to be made available for the underserved community.
- Universities are to ensure the availability of facilities or equipment to support students’ learning during the 1 year of online learning. Alternatively, the curriculum may need to be adjusted so no special facilities or equipment are required during that period.
- The learning and teaching as well as assessment activities may need to be enhanced to ensure students are able to develop their soft skills while learning online.
- Additional support may need to be provided to ensure students are arranging their learning and work (if applicable) activities effectively without compromising their learning outcomes.
- Universities implement outreach programs to tackle challenges faced when students learn from home while applying what they have learned.
To ensure the seamlessness of shortening some programs’ duration to three years, greater integration of the curriculum will help focus on critical knowledge, skills, and attitude needed for work and life. It is important to ensure graduates’ capabilities are compatible with the expectations of the industry and professional bodies.
The flexibility in learning empowers students to manage themselves better. Taylor’s hybrid learning synergizes the strength of physical, online, work-based, and overseas learning to ensure our students remain competitive in any environment.
It is important to understand what our students want, hence, a personalized learning pathway is one of the key approaches that Taylor’s has adopted, where students are able to choose specializations, minors, free electives, and extensions that are aligned to their career aspirations, passion, and interests. Not only that, the prospect for our students to study one semester abroad is available by taking 5 free elective modules of 20 credits.
Flexibility is further reflected through our curriculum which promotes three learning tracks that allow our students to either study on campus, in the industry, or at our business incubator to start a business during their final year.
At the same time, Taylor’s Multidisciplinary Learning Experience (MLE) provides opportunities for students to work together and learn from students of different disciplines on real-world projects. Our 13 Impact Labs embody the essence of Purpose Learning, where students have the chance to work together with our partners and beneficiaries to tackle real-world challenges, guided by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Overall, MOHE’s decision to carry out these new policies is certainly timely and one that will be appreciated. That said, we would like for MOHE to take into consideration the request of allowing private universities to make discretional decisions on whether to implement the same policies, in the best interest of their students, factoring in the current and future expectations of the industries.
About the author: Professor Dr. Pradeep Nair is Taylor’s University Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer. This is an opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of this publication.
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