By RICHARD LIM
PETALING JAYA, MALAYSIA - Degree holders might soon be required to register their academic qualifications with the Higher Education Ministry.
According to Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, the move was designed to curb the problem of degree mills.
'We will propose a new Act which requires degree holders to supply us with relevant information so we can check the legitimacy of the awarding institutions,' he told The Star in a telephone interview.
'More on this matter will be announced in the ministry's next roundup meeting soon.'
Mohamed Khaled was responding to a Starprobe report on dodgy degrees offered by degree mills where little or no study was needed.
When told of the proposed measure, Malaysian Association of Private Colleges and Universities president Dr Parmjit Singh was pleasantly surprised.
Describing the proposal as a bold move, he said the formulation of an effective database - which employers could refer to - would address the problem as bogus degree holders would not gain any benefits.
However, he was concerned about how the proposed Act would be enforced.
'Care must be taken and there cannot be any inaccurate records,' he said. 'Also, what is going to compel degree holders from complying?'
Meanwhile, Sunway University College and Sunway Education Group executive director Elizabeth Lee said the problem did not lie solely with degrees and dubious MBAs and PhDs had to be addressed as well.
Mohamed Khaled also said that although societal pressure and the hope for better salaries drove some to attain academic qualifications through illicit means, integrity had to be upheld.
He urged the public to be on their guard against those offering fake academic qualifications.
'The public must be discerning and check the track record of institutions,' he said.
'When minimal effort is needed, an opportunity to obtain a degree simply by paying is the sign of a scam.'