Pengalaman Kuliah PhD di Malaysia

Secara umum, kampus-kampus malaysia mengadopsi kurikulum UK dalam implementasi pembelajaran mereka. Disebabkan aspek historis juga yang mana mereka pernah di jajah oleh Inggris. Namun begitu, dibandingkan negara lain di Asia, perkembangan pendidikan tinggi di Malaysia terbilang cukup pesat. Terbukti dahulu di tahun 80-an, Universitas di Malaysia baru memulai eranya dengan memanggil ilmuwan-ilmuwan ternama untuk membangun kampus mereka, salah satunya Indonesia.

Berkaitan Indonesia, dahulu, dosen-dosen Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB) datang dan membina di Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) karena waktu itu UTM masih kekurangan tenaga pengajar. Calon-calon dosen lokal, mereka sekolahkan setinggi-tingginya di Amerika, Australia dan Inggris agar ketika selesai, bisa terserap dengan baik dan mengisi kekosongan tenaga pendidik di kampus mereka. Sehingga dahulu kita sering dengar dari orangtua kita bahwa dahulu kita mengirimkan guru dan dosen ke Malaysia, namun sekarang kita yang belajar ke Malaysia.

“dulu kita mengirimkan guru dan dosen ke Malaysia, namun sekarang kita yang belajar ke Malaysia.”
Sebenarnya, waktu itu, menurut penuturan Prof. Dr. Mohd Salleh Bin Abu, supervisor PhD saya, mereka tengah kekosongan tenaga pendidik disebabkan perginya insan-insan muda mereka menuntut ilmu sehingga dipanggillah guru dan dosen dari Indonesia untuk mengisi kekosongan tersebut. Walhasil, hari ini tenaga muda mereka telah selesai dan siap mengisi ke kosongan itu.

Jika kita lihat kebijakan 5 tahun tekahir Indonesia, pemerintah juga telah dan sedang mempersiapkan generasi muda kita yang berpotensi untuk di sekolahkan setinggi mungkin agar bisa kembali membangun Indonesia. Ini dibuktikan dengan adanya LPDP, Beasiswa Unggulan, dan PMDSU. Kesemua jenis beasiswa itu tidak lain agar mempercepat perkembangan pendidikan Indonesia untuk kedepannya. Namun, pemerintah juga perlu lebih memikirkan nasib mereka pasca selesai studi yang mana mereka belum ada jaminan penempatan lapangan kerja sehingga jangan sampai kita yang menyekolahkan, namun negara lain yang menyerap keahliannya.

Kembali lagi tentang perkuliahan dan serba-serbi di Malaysia, Malaysia merupakan negara yang cukup murah untuk melanjutkan studi, berdasarkan penuturan mahasiswa Asing dari Afrika dan Timur Tengah. Mereka mengatakan bahwa Malaysia merupakan negara yang biaya pendidikannya lumayan murah dan biaya hidupnya terjangkau. Bahkan salah satu mahasiswa Iran mengatakan, biaya studi dan hidup di Malaysia jauh lebih murah dibandingkan hidup di Iran itu sendiri. Belum lagi gaji yang bekerja di Malaysia kisaran antara RM1500 – RM7000 perbulan. Gaji dosen muda saja disini mulai dari RM6500 atau setara dengan 21 juta rupiah, dengan biaya hidup yang kurang lebih sama dengan di Indonesia.

Memang, kalau kita lihat dari concern kebijakan kerajaan dan Sultan di Malaysia adalah memprioritaskan pendidikan dan kesejahteraan tenaga pendidik. Bahkan pendidikan adalah prioritas nomor satu dibandingkan kedokteran. Karena mereka menyadari bahwa pendidikan bukan sekedar slogan jualan politik semata, namun lebih ke esensi dari pendidikan itu sendiri agar menciptakan manusia yang unggul. Kita doakan, di era Menteri Pendidikan Baru Indonesia, Nadiem Anwar Makarim, semoga mampu membawa perubahan yang berdampak baik terhadap pendidikan Indonesia, bukan malah merusak tatanan dan sistem yang ada yang mungkin bisa berakibat fatal bagi penerus bangsa. Saya sarankan, jangan gengsi belajar ke negara tetangga seperti Malaysia dan Singapura, agar kita bisa mengambil pelajaran dari titik balik kebangkitan pendidikan mereka sehingga selalu berada pada posisi tengah ke atas TIMSS dan PISA. Apalagi beliau pernah juga merasakan dampak pendidikan di Singapura.

Selain itu, 3 tahun terkahir pemerintah kita saat ini sangat menekankan pentingnya publikasi internasional Scopus. Perlu anda ketahui, Malaysia sejak 10 tahun lalu telah menjadikan Scopus sebagai acuan dalam kredibilitas publikasi, disamping pro dan kontranya. Dan hari ini, Malaysia sudah tidak lagi melirik Scopus sebagai hal yang prestige namun sudah beralih ke Web of Science sebagai pengindeks top dengan Impact Factor. Selalu melangkah lebih terdepan dari bangsa kita, dan bukan hanya membuat kebijakan tersebut, namun juga memfasilitasi dan menyediakan keperluan para dosen dan peneliti agar mudah dan sampai pada objektif kerajaannya. Bukan hanya menuntut untuk mencapai tujuan tersebut tanpa menyediakan sarana dalam mencapai tujuan tersebut.

Berkaitan pembimbingan di kampus Malaysia, para dosen sangat bagus dengan anak bimbingannya, bahkan di sela-sela pembimbingan, selepas bimbingan langsung terus dibawa ke cafe untuk berbincang lepas sambil santap siang. Ketika atur jadwal ketemuan pembimbingan, mereka sangat mudah berkomunikasi via Whatsapp dan langsung menetapkan jadwal pembimbingan, tanpa perlu menunggu-nunggu kedatangan dosen yang tidak jelas kapan datangnya ke ruangannya (pengalaman waktu S1 di Indonesia). Menurut saya ini adalah tingkah laki yang perlu dicontoh oleh para dosen di Indonesia bahwasanya waktu mahasiswa dan dosen itu sangatlah berharga sehingga alangkah eloknya jika pembimbingan langsung menetapkan jadwal ketemuan saja dan on time dalam pertemuan tersebut. Pernah saya terlambat 1 menit dari jadwal yang ditetapkan dengan supervisor saya, seketika saya langsung di telepon menanyakan posisi sudah dimana. Sungguh saya sangat terkejut dan tidak akan mengulanginya lagi. Pernah juga di telepon pagi-pagi hanya untuk menanyakan progress penelitian saya. Memang terbaik Prof saya. Alhamdulillah.

Oh iya, jangan lupa, pembimbingan disini sangat dalam dan detail . Semua hal mulai dari kerangka berpikir sampai hal-hal yang kecil akan dikoreksi dan dibetulkan. Mungkin bagi kita yang belum terbiasa, menganggap sepele hal-hal koreksian tersebut seperti titik dan koma, pemilihan kata yang diterima secara akademis, typo atau salah ketik, dan sebagainya. Namun percayalah, dari situ kita belajar bahwa tidak ada yang sepele dalam hidup ini. Bukankah menyingkirkan sesuatu yang menganggu dijalanan agar tidak mengganggu orang lain kelihatannya sepele namun punya dampak ganjaran yang luar biasa? Itulah mengapa, PhD ini kepanjangannya ialah ‘Permanent Head Damage’.

Lunch bersama main-supervisor, Prof. Dr. Mohd Salleh Abu, dan co-supervisor, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Abdul Halim Abdullah, setelah pembimbingan.
Selain itu, kebiasaan masayarakat kampus dan luar kampus Malaysia juga sangat dermawan. Terbukti setiap jumat dan hari-hari tertentu ada program derma atau sedekah makanan untuk mahasiswa.
Alhamdulillah, mahasiswa bisa setiap hari mendapat makanan yang sehat tanpa lagi terbebani masalah biaya makanan. Namun begitu, jika anda memperhatikan, khususnya di Johor, harga satu porsi makanan for students. Yang sering kelaparan tengah malam juga tersedia kedai ‘Mamak’, kedai makanan muslim India, yang buka 23 jam. Kok 23 jam? Katanya 1 jamnya dipakai bersih-bersih, unik ya.

 

English Version:

PhD Experience in Malaysia

In general, Malaysian campuses adopted the UK curriculum in the implementation of their education system. This is mainly due to the historical reasons in which they were invaded by the British. Nevertheless, compared to other countries in Asia, the development of higher education in Malaysia is quite rapid. Proven first in the 80s, universities in Malaysia only started the era by calling on leading scientists to build their campuses, one of which is Indonesia.

Regarding Indonesia, in the past, lecturers from the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) came and fostered the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) because at that time, UTM still lacked teaching staff. Prospective local lecturers were sent to USA, Australia, and England so that when they complete their studies, they can be recruited and fill in the teaching job vacancies in their campus. We often hear from our parents that in the past, we sent teachers and lecturers to Malaysia, but now we are studying in Malaysia.

“We used to send teachers and lecturers to Malaysia, but now we are studying in Malaysia.”

Actually, at that time, according to Prof. Dr. Mohd Salleh Bin Abu who is my PhD supervisor, they lacked teaching staff because the youngsters furthered their studies; hence, teachers and lecturers from Indonesia were called upon to fill in the gap. Today, their young workforce has completed their studies and are ready to fill the job vacancies.

If we look at Indonesia’s latest 5-year policy, the government has been preparing the young generation who have the potentials, to be highly educated, so that they can help develop Indonesia in the future. This is proven by the existence of LPDP, Leading Scholarships, and PMDSU. All of these scholarships are provided to accelerate the development of Indonesian education in the future. However, the government also needs to think more about graduates’ fate after the completion of their studies, where they do not have guaranteed job placement. We wouldn’t want to send students to study just to have other countries absorb their expertise.

Going back to lectures and sundries in Malaysia, Malaysia is an affordable place to continue their studies, based on the explanation of foreign students from Africa and the Middle East. They said that Malaysia is a country with relatively low tuition fees and reasonable living costs. One Iranian student even said that the cost of study and living in Malaysia is far cheaper than living in Iran itself. Not to mention the salary for working in Malaysia ranges between RM1500 – RM7000 per month. The salary for young lecturers here starts from RM6500 which is equivalent to 21 million rupiah with living costs more or less the same as in Indonesia.
Indeed, if we look from the policy concern of the kingdom and the Sultans in Malaysia, they prioritize the education and welfare of educators. In fact, education is the number one priority compared to medicine. This is because they realize that education is not just a slogan of political sales, but way superior than that. We hope that in the era of Indonesia’s New Minister of Education, Nadiem Anwar Makarim, he will be able to bring changes that will have a positive impact on Indonesian education, rather than worsening the existing system which might cause a downfall to the nation. I suggest, do not be proud studying in neighbouring countries such as Malaysia and Singapore, instead we can take lessons from the turning point of their education revival on how they are always in the middle position to the top of TIMSS and PISA. The same goes to the impact of education in Singapore.

In addition, the last 3 years of our current government strongly emphasizes the importance of Scopus international publications. For your information, in the past 10 years, Malaysia has made Scopus as a reference in the credibility of publications, in addition to the pros and cons. And today, Malaysia is no longer looking at Scopus as a prestigious site, but has turned to Web of Science as a top indexer with Impact Factor. Malaysia is always one step ahead of our nation, not only in making these policies, but also in facilitating and providing the needs of lecturers and researchers to achieve the government’s mission. They don’t demand to achieve these goals without providing the means to achieve these goals.

Regarding the teaching in Malaysian campuses, the lecturers are very kind with their students, in and out of the campus. After formal classes, lecturers treat students to lunch while continuing their discussion. When arranging a meeting, they communicate easily via WhatsApp and immediately set a time without having to wait for the lecturers to be in their rooms (experience during S1 in Indonesia). In my opinion, this is a behaviour that should be emulated by lecturers in Indonesia that the time of students and lecturers is very valuable, so it would be nice if both parties set the schedule for meeting and be on time for it. Once I was 1 minute late for the scheduled set up with my supervisor, he immediately telephoned me to ask my whereabouts. I was very surprised and promised to not repeat it again. He also used to call me early in the morning just to ask about the progress of my research. Indeed, my professor is the best. Alhamdulillah.

Oh yes, don’t forget, the teaching here is very deep and extensive. Everything from the mindset to the smallest things will be corrected and made straight. Maybe for those of us who are not used to petty writing corrections such as periods and commas, academically accepted word choices, typos, and so on feels like these are trivial errors, but believe me, from there we learn that there is nothing trivial in this life. Doesn’t getting rid of something that is distracting on the streets so that it doesn’t interfere with other people seems trivial but has a tremendous reward? That’s why PhD stands for ‘Permanent Head Damage’.

Lunch with main-supervisor, Prof. Dr. Mohd Salleh Abu, and co-supervisor, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Abdul Halim Abdullah, after class.

In addition, the community on campus and outside the campus of Malaysia are very generous. Every Friday and on selected days, there will be a charity or alms program for students.
Alhamdulillah, students can get healthy food daily without being burdened by the costs. However, if you notice, especially in Johor, the price of a serving of food complete with vegetables and side dishes is only RM5. Very affordable for students. For late night cravings, there are ‘Mamak’ shops, Indian Muslim food stall, which are open 23 hours. Why 23 hours? The 1 hour is said to be used for cleaning, unique, right?

So, why hesitate to choose Malaysia as a place of study. For those who want to know more about universities and scholarship opportunities in Malaysia.

 

Penulis M. Ammar Naufal, M.Ed

November 23, 2019

Keywrods: Education Malaysia, Education Malaysia Global Services, EMGS
Hashtags: #StudyinMalaysia #EducationMalaysia #InternationalStudent
Website: EMGS Homepage

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