Aspiration-Raising Agenda in Malaysian Higher Education: Individual Perspectives, Strategies, and Consequences

  • Hamzah Nor BIN AEDY RAHMAN (Speaker)

Activity: Talks or PresentationsOther Invited Talks or Presentations


Increasing the number of students from low-income families and underprivileged groups enrolling in higher education institutions has been a key policy objective in Malaysia. The launch of the Malaysia Education Blueprint (Higher Education) 2015 – 2025 sees the Malaysian aspiration to widen access to and increase enrolment in higher education. Notwithstanding the provision of its aspiration-raising agenda, the Department of Statistics Malaysia recently reported a low percentage (27.9 percent) of secondary-school leavers aspiring to pursue higher education. Whilst aspiration is complex, strategies are often outlined in narrow equality and equity terms, removing perceived barriers to access higher education, primarily being the lack of resources. Drawing on thirty-five semi-structured interviews with secondary-school leavers and parents across Malaysia, this qualitative study explores the nuanced view of aspiration-raising and its consequences from individual perspectives. The findings are twofold; the neglect of “capacity to aspire” which has resulted in “poverty of aspiration” and the deprivation of the right to education through the apartheid-like affirmative policies, privileging the Bumiputera. The study also identifies a tension in the aspiration-raising dialectic between national agenda and individual “hopes and wishes”. The findings demonstrate a critical need to adjust the national aspiration, concentrating less on individual-focused strategies.
Period22 Feb 2023
Event titlePolicy and Comparative Development Studies Seminar Series
Event typeSeminar
OrganisersInstitute of Policy Studies, School of Graduate Studies