New Constitutions Proposed for Private Universities and Colleges

New Constitutions Proposed for Private Universities and Colleges

Posted on : May 1 2019

The Ministry of Education recently circulated two templates or model constitutions to private universities and colleges. These new constitutions are meant to replace the constitutions that were circulated in 2012. The Private Higher Educational Institutions Act 1996, require private institutions, whether universities or colleges, to be managed in accordance with a constitution. However, the Act stopped short of prescribing a constitution.

The MOE has for many years been troubled about the absence of a statutory constitution. In 2010 a workshop was organized by the MOE to discuss the formulation of a common constitution. The main issue in that discussion was the creation of a governance structure that would separate ownership of the institution from the academic management. We cautioned against such an approach in an opinion we wrote at that time because of the commercial nature of the enterprise and the legal position of the company establishing the institution. Our view then as now is that the company established under the Companies Act is subject the regulatory structure imposed by the Companies Act. Moreover, we also feel that the company is a vehicle to serve many purposes, for or not for profit, philanthropic and business. Nevertheless, the MOE followed up on the discussions by issuing two template constitutions, one for private universities and the other for private colleges. This was done through a circular issued by the MOE in 2012. 

The new constitutions now circulated are based on the 2012 constitution with some changes. The issues we raised in 2010 have only been partly addressed. If adopted, the new constitutions will have important implications for those governing and managing these institutions in ways that are not apparent on the face of the documents. Private higher educational institutions have been given until the end of May to respond to those changes.

Because of their importance, and as a service to the private sector, Espact is organizing a free workshop to discuss those implications. The workshop will be held at the Royal Selangor Club, Dataran Merdeka on 14 May 2019 from 12.00 Noon to 3.30pm.

The workshop will be led by Mr U K Menon, a lawyer with 25 years involvement in the private sector of higher education. He was involved in most if not all the committees that were set up to review the Act since its inception in 1996.

We invite anyone with an interest in the management of private universities and colleges to attend the workshop. We request anyone interested in attending the workshop to register through this website. As places are limited, we will only accept registrations completed before 11 May 2019.

For more information, please call 016 395 7617 or write