IDEAS appoints Professor Tan Sri Dzulkifli Abdul Razak to look into university autonomy



Kuala Lumpur, 10 October 2016
 – Professor Tan Sri Dato’ Dzulkifli Abdul Razak has been announced as Chair for the programme on autonomy and accountability in higher education at the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS).

A renowned educationist, Tan Sri Dzulkifli is currently the 14th President of the International Association of Universities (IAU), a UNESCO-affiliated organisation, based in Paris.  He is also Chairman of Islamic Science University of Malaysia (Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia, USIM), and former Vice Chancellor of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM).

Describing the IDEAS project, Tan Sri Dzulkifli said “The purpose of this programme is to study how to improve the quality of our higher education system by giving universities more autonomy and at the same time ensuring that they are more accountable too. The government has been working hard to transform our higher education. The higher education blueprint is an example of that commitment. We will complement the work already done by the government through this project and our findings will be shared with the government too.”

“To improve the standards and quality of higher education it is important for us to look at what has happened in the past and present, and then prepare for the future.  Today there are a lot of grouses about the lack of autonomy in Malaysian universities, as if people feel that we did enjoy autonomy before.  So we need to ask the tough questions: Is it true that we have lost autonomy?  If so, how and why was university autonomy lost? What should autonomy look like? If we want to see true autonomy, what should be the proper role of government in higher education?.  I am sure there will be many interesting answers coming out from this study,” he stated.

This one year project will combine research to be undertaken by Tan Sri Dzulkifli and his team, with publication of policy papers and the organising of policy seminars.  IDEAS will also organise a special conference in mid 2017 on this topic.
Wan Saiful Wan Jan, Chief Executive of IDEAS explained that “This is a major appointment for IDEAS and we are excited about the potentials of this project.  The current higher education blueprint builds on the 2005 Wan Zahid Report that already emphasised the importance of autonomy and accountability.  So the need for greater autonomy is not new and the government already knows this.  I am thrilled that we at IDEAS are now able to help look for ways to make this ideal a reality.  Tan Sri Dzulkifli was a member of the team that produced the Wan Zahid Report in 2005 so he is the best person to lead this project now.”

Wan Saiful added “We are also lucky because Tan Sri Wan Zahid Wan Noordin himself is very supportive of this initiative.  We have met him several times to discuss our ideas and as a result we are now able to run this research project. ”


In addition to the team at IDEAS, Tan Sri Dzulkifli’s research team for this programme comprises:

  • Dr Munif Zarirruddin Fikri Nordin, Associate Professor, College of Arts and Sciences Universiti Utara Malaysia
  • Dr Wan Chang Da, Senior Lecturer, National Higher Education Research Institute, Universiti Sains Malaysia
  • Dr Sean Matthews, Head of School of Languages and Cultures, University of Nottingham



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