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Shafie Salleh should allow UPM to continue with its new intake of 60 students for its Aerospace Engineering programme this year in the interests of the students as well as Malaysia’s aerospace blueprint and the nation’s high-technology future as the UKM is not yet ready to take over UPM’s Aerospace Engineering programme
Media Conference Statement
(Parliament, Thursday): The Minister for Higher Education Datuk Shafie Salleh should allow Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) to continue with its new intake of 60 students for its Aerospace Engineering programme this year in the interests of the students as well as Malaysia’s aerospace blueprint and the nation’s high-technology future as the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) is not yet ready to take over UPM’s Aerospace Engineering programme.
It will be most short-sighted, irresponsible, frivolous and completely indefensible whether in terms of higher education advancement or promotion of high-technology to enhance national competitiveness for the Ministry of Higher Education to bar the UPM from issuing offer letters to the 60 new students enrolling for its programme when the UKM is not ready to start a new aerospace engineering programme just to make the point that the Minister for Higher Education has the power to override the objections of UPM to transfer its aerospace engineering department and course to UKM.
New Straits Times on Monday, 4.7.05 under the headline “UKM takes over aerospace course”, reported:
“The decision is final. Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) will no longer conduct the Aerospace Engineering programme.
“The course has been transferred to Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia beginning this year as the Government wants UPM to concentrate on specialised agriculture-related programmes.”
quoted a Higher
Education Ministry senior official as saying that UPM had been notified
“some time ago” that the course would be moved to UKM. However,
students in years two, three and four will complete their
course at UPM, while the new intake of 60 students will enrol at UKM for
the 2005/ 2006 academic session.
However, the matter is not so simple and straightforward and it is now clear that the 60 students who have been successful in applying for the UPM aerospace engineering course as their first-choice option as well as the national aerospace blueprint and high-technology future had become the casualties of this “flexing of muscles” by the Minister for Higher Education.
This is because the director of higher education department, Prof Dr Hassan Said admitted the next day that the UKM is not ready to start and take over the UPM’s aerospace engineering course, and as a result, the 60 students who had been selected to start the UPM aerospace engineering course will be offered other courses – which is most unfair to the students concerned who had selected the UPM course as their first option.
The question Shafie must answer is why he has barred UPM from continuing to offer the aerospace engineering course until UKM is ready to offer such a course, or until a review of the decision to transfer the course from UPM to UKM.
In arbitrariy terminating the UPM aerospace engineering course for the 60 new students when the UKM is not ready to take over such a programme, Shafie is trifling with the National Blueprint for the Aerospace Industry launched in 1996, under which the UPM Aerospace Engineering Department was formed nine years ago, to transform Malaysia into a regional and international aerospace nation by the year 2015. This is because aerospace, “as an industry which houses core technologies for the future, is seen as a strategic gateway to establish Malaysia as a competitive nation”.
In allowing UPM to continue with its new intake of 60 students for its Aerospace Engineering programme this year as UKM is not yet ready to step into UPM’s shoes, Shafie will also allow more time to consider the respective merits and demerits of the decision to transfer the course from UPM to UKM.
The reasons to transfer the UPM aerospace engineering course to UKM seems to be rather weak, considering that UKM at present does not have any first-degree course for aerospace engineering, and has only four academic staff for 10 post-graduate students as compared to the 19-strong academic staff in the UPM aerospace engineering department with over 200 students for the Bachelor programme.