Improve on English or lose out in job market, undergrads told

PETALING JAYA: Local undergraduates should decide for themselves whether to heed the call to be more proficient in English, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said.

“It cannot be helped if the students do not wish to be helped,” he said.

Studies conducted by the ministry revealed that one of the causes of unemployment among local graduates was their poor command of English, he said.

Khaled was commenting on last month’s protest by Universiti Malaya students, who accused vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Ghauth Jasmon of sidelining Bahasa Malaysia when he gave a briefing which stressed on English as the way forward.

Dr Ghauth drew flak when he highlighted how English could enhance the students’ employment prospects.

Speaking to reporters after launching the Tertiary Institutions Entrepreneurship Programme at UM yesterday, Khaled said that public institutions of higher learning had been instructed to increase the number of credit hours in English, starting from the undergraduates’ first year in university.

“The aim is to help students to improve their command of English, especially in communication skills.

“We did not want to burden students by making it compulsory for them to pass the English paper as that would delay the graduation of some students,” he said.

During the launch, he announced that a National Higher Education Entrepreneurship Council would be set up to instil the entrepreneurship spirit among undergraduates through research and education.

On the call for him to resign by Gabungan Mahasiswa Islam Se-Malaysia (Gamis) president Ahmad Shukri Abdul Razak over the ruckus at the campus election in February, Khaled said it was inappropriate for him to intervene during the campaigning period.

“I am open to attending functions upon the invitation of students provided that there is no conflict of interest,” he said.

Khaled also denied any animosity between him and his deputy Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah who was perceived as being more lenient to the undergraduates.