Umno veep labels merger between two Terengganu universities ‘unprofessional’

Ben Tan
Mohamed Khaled said without a comprehensive study, the decision to merge UniSZA and UMT was seen to be highly political, arbitrary and unprofessional. — Bernama pic

JOHOR BARU, Sept 11 — Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin today claimed the Education Ministry’s move to merge Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA) and Universiti Malaysia Terengganu was unprofessional.

In terms of its justification, he said the government did not present the public with any comprehensive study for the urgency of such a decision that touched on the added value that will be gained in terms of management efficiency, effectiveness of education and returns to students and the local community.

“More importantly, what harm would it cause if the merger did not take place?” asked Mohamed Khaled.

He added that without a comprehensive study, the decision was seen to be highly political, arbitrary and unprofessional.

“It puts a huge question mark on the students, parents, educators, university management, industry and the public,” said Mohamed Khaled in a statement today.

The former higher education minister also criticised the Education Ministry’s decision to compare the merger to that of University of Manchester and University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) in the United Kingdom.

“This is because in that case, it is an act of taking over the merger. Although the government sees it as a merger, it is important for them to analyse the factors that support its merits and compare it with the case of UniSZA and UMT.

“Are there any similarities, needs and factors that will make it work?” Mohamed Khaled asked, adding that both UniSZA and UMT are different as each has a focus and a sense of belonging that is not only distinct but mutually exclusive.

Mohamed Khaled also questioned the proposed special committee by the ministry, claiming it was only formed for the purpose of the decision’s implementation and was more form than function.

The 60-year-old former Johor Mentri Besar also called for Education Minister Maszlee Malik to stop making ambiguous decisions.

“Education is not a sector that can be blindly experimented on. I hope this matter will be reconsidered by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.

Earlier today, the government had agreed in principle to merge both UniSZA and UMT in Terengganu, a move that drew criticism when the proposal was first reported.

Higher education director-general Siti Hamisah Tapsir was reported to have said that the Cabinet had agreed on September 4 to merge both universities.

Putrajaya argued that the move would be able to improve the functions of the two universities in line with the higher education blueprint.

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