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TANJUNG MALIM: The decision to suspend the five students of the Kedah-owned Insaniah University College (KUIN) was based on law, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said yesterday.
He said students who entered universities, besides seeking knowledge, had to be good, disciplined and law-abiding people.
"The Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) or the Private Higher Educational Institutions Act 1996 allow actions to be taken against students who violate regulations," he said after his visit to Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI).
Last April, the five students were suspended after they staged a protest against KUIN's plan to vacate the hostel and make way for the state government's smart school, Sekolah Insan Bistari.
Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak said as KUIN belonged to the state government, its administration had the right to punish the students according to the law and that it could be settled at state-level.
Opposition leaders strongly objected to the suspension and accused Azizan of invoking the UUCA. They also said this was clearly against the opposition's pledge to abolish the UUCA if it came to power.
Azizan, who is KUIN chairman, defended his move, saying there must not be any outside interference as this was a local issue involving a state-owned higher learning institution and not related to the opposition's pledge to abolish the UUCA.
Earlier, Khaled was informed by university vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Zakaria Kasa that about 96 per cent of UPSI graduates were absorbed as teaching staff in schools nationwide soon after graduation.
Zakaria said despite the surplus of teachers in the country, there were jobs for UPSI graduates and attributed this to the university's efficient and innovative approach in ensuring its graduates were able to teach in more than one subject.
"They are taught to be teachers who are good not only in one subject. For example, if Science is their 'major', they have to choose another subject as a 'minor'.
"So, when they apply for a teaching job, and if there is no vacancy for a Science teacher, they can teach another subject."
Zakaria said the remaining four per cent of UPSI graduates joined other professions as the courses offered at the university were not limited to teaching.
He said efforts were continuously made by the university to improve the quality of its graduates.
This includes having more highly qualified foreign lecturers from Korea, Australia and China, as well as the university's collaboration with foreign researchers.