MQA’s D-Setara Rating: Malaysia’s Best Engineering, Hospitality & Tourism, Medicine & Pharmacy Universities

Top Rated Universities in Malaysia by Discipline According to D-SETARA by Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA)

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Carried out by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA), D-SETARA builds upon the initial Rating System for Malaysian Higher Education Institutions (SETARA) with the view of eventually replacing the latter rating system. The Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA), responsible for quality assurance of higher education for both public and private universities in Malaysia.While SETARA rates the overall quality of institutions, Discipline-based Rating System or D-SETARA assesses undergraduate teaching and learning at universities and university-colleges in Malaysia in specific fields of study.

The rating system on Malaysian universities is different from SETARA. The former categorises universities as a whole using a tier system based on the Malaysian Qualifications Framework whereas D-SETARA assesses the quality of teaching and learning of a certain field of study only.

Students planning to study at top universities in Malaysia will find the D-SETARA rating as a useful guide in helping them make the right decision.

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The Best Universities in Malaysia for Engineering, Hospitality & Tourism, Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy & Health Sciences as Rated by D-SETARA

Taylor’s University is a top ranked private university in Malaysia

The first four disciplines rated by D-SETARA were engineering, hospitality and tourism, medicine, dentistry and pharmacy as well as the health sciences.

Like SETARA, the D-SETARA is voluntary and classifies institutions in six tiers;

  1. Tier Six (outstanding)
  2. Tier Five (excellent)
  3. Tier Four (very good)
  4. Tier Three (good)
  5. Tier Two (satisfactory)
  6. Tier One (weak)

Only the hospitality and tourism discipline had a Tier Six institution —Taylor’s University. Tier Six is the

UCSI University is ranked in the Top 300 Universities in Asia in 2015 by the renown QS University Rankings. UCSI University is ranked as Excellent or Tier 5 in the SETARA 2013 rating system by MQA.

highest rating that a university can achieve.

Universiti Malaya was the only Tier Five institution for the medicine, dentistry and pharmacy category. While UCSI University achieved a Tier Three ranking in this category.

For engineering, 11 institutions were in Tier Five and some of the top universities are Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia; UCSI University; Universiti Malaysia Perlis; University Putra Malaysia; Universiti Sains Malaysia; Universiti Teknologi Malaysia; Universiti Teknologi Mara; and more.

What is the Discipline-Based Rating System (D-SETARA)?

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Hanson, Foundation in Science (Engineering) at UCSI University

The Discipline-Based Rating System (D-SETARA) is a rating system developed and implemented to assess the quality of teaching and learning in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Malaysia. The system aims to rate the institutional level quality of teaching and learning of specific (clusters of) disciplines at level six (undergraduate level) of the Malaysian Qualifications Framework (MQF) in universities and university colleges.

The system, the first of its kind, is a complement to the existing institutional rating through Sistem Penarafan Institusi Pengajian Tinggi Malaysia (SETARA) which has been successfully carried out for several years. Whilst SETARA focuses on the institution, D-SETARA focuses on the schools or faculties where the respective discipline is offered. The spirit is one of benchmarking against a set of quality standards for the purpose of improvement of the institution and discipline but not for competition between the institutions.

The first D-SETARA exercise focuses on four clusters of disciplines: Engineering; Medicine, Dentistry and

Our mum asked us to talk to EduSpiral as we did not know what to study. EduSpiral had helped our older sister before. He met us at Taylor’s, talked to us and then gave us a tour.
Gan twins, Foundation in Arts at Taylor’s University

Pharmacy; Health Sciences; and Hospitality and Tourism. Participation in D-SETARA is voluntary; invitations were made to all HEIs offering undergraduate programmes and have had the first batch of graduates in 2011. The Engineering discipline however, involved only HEIs which offer four-year degree programmes. The number of institutions rated in each discipline were 25 (Engineering), 15 (Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmacy), 14 (Health Sciences) and seven (Hospitality and Tourism).

The ultimate aim of the exercise is a tier rating (based on a six tier rating system) of HEIs in each of the discipline. The basis for rating is the total scores and cut-off values determined for each of the tiers. The scope of evaluation of teaching and learning covers the main domains of Input-Process-Output, and under each of the domains there are criteria followed by indicators for each of the criteria.

An instrument was developed by each sub-committee based on the SETARA ’09 and SETARA ’11

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Jerry Cheong, Diploma in ICT at Asia Pacific University

instruments, this mainly done to ensure comparability with the institutional rating. The weight according to the domains: Input- Process-Output is similar to SETARA ’11, i.e., 20:40:40 for the Engineering and Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmacy discipline; 30:40:30 for Health Sciences, and 30:35:35 for Hospitability and Tourism. The weights of the criteria and the indicators also varies between disciplines. The justifications for the varying weighting system in domains, criteria and indicators are due to the specific needs of the disciplines and explained in the respective report.

Data for the various indicators are collected from various sources, which include Institutional Data (through self-assessment with documentary evidence), Employer Surveys, Tracer Study and also accreditation data. Various steps have been taken to ensure data integrity from each of the sources.

The instrument was verified by a pilot study on ten selected HEIs for the disciplines. For the purpose of

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Zi En, Interior Design at First City University College

data collection, a template was prepared for the HEIs. Data submitted by the HEIs are compiled and then verified by the sub-committees. Subsequently, data analysis were undertaken which ultimately results in the tiering of HEIs in each discipline. Verification of the exercise was done through a Verification Committee appointed by the MQA. Two verification meetings were carried out on 15 May 2012 and 24 November 2012. The verification exercises cover the process of instrument development; process of data collection, entry and analysis; missing data analysis and treatment; and the results.

The results show that for Engineering discipline, out of the 25 universities and university colleges rated, 11 institutions achieved a Tier 5 category, 13 institutions achieved Tier 4, and the remaining one, achieved Tier 3.

For Health Sciences discipline, out of the 14 universities and university colleges rated, five institutions

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Aun Jie, Chemical Engineering at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia

achieved a Tier 5 category, six institutions achieved Tier 4, and two institutions are in Tier 3. One institution was not rated because of insufficient data.

As for the Hospitality and Tourism discipline, the result shows that out of the seven universities and university colleges rated, one institution achieved the Tier 6 (Outstanding) category, three institutions in Tier 5 and one institution each in Tier 4 and Tier 3. One institution in this discipline was not rated because of insufficient data.

For Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmacy discipline, out of the 15 universities and university colleges rated, only one institution achieved Tier 5 category, 11 institutions in Tier 4, and two institutions in Tier 3. One institution was not rated because of insufficient data. In all the ratings, the results show that none of the universities and university colleges is in Tier 1 or Tier 2.

How to Choose the Best Private University to Study in Malaysia

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Chee Yuan, Chemical Engineering at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia

The best private universities and colleges in Malaysia have excellent facilities, years of experience running the programme, strong student support services, internships and experienced lecturers.

They are also accredited by MQA and approved by the Malaysian Ministry of Education. Accreditation by the various professional bodies such as the Board of Engineers Malaysia, Pharmacy Board, Lembaga Arkitek Malaysia, Nursing Board, Malaysian Medical Council, etc also indicates the standard achieved.

The best private university in Malaysia will focus on quality, have award winners for the particular courses, years of experience offering the particular course, highly experienced lecturers, a good study environment (not a party university), internships, good mix of international & local students, extra-curricular activities and good facilities. The SETARA ranking is a guide for students to assess the quality of a private university in Malaysia.

After I finished my SPM, I felt confused about my further study. Eduspiral, was so patient to answer all my questions and took us around for a campus tour.
Hui Ying, Diploma in Accounting at Asia Pacific University

When choosing a university and college in Malaysia, it is important for students to visit the campus and see the facilities and feel the culture of the students to see if it fits you. Talk to the lecturers and find out from the counselors there about the courses and check if the courses have been accredited by MQA and other external bodies like the Pharmacy Board, Nursing Board, Malaysian Medical Council, Board of Engineers Malaysia , Lembaga Arkitek Malaysia or Persatuan Arkitek Malaysia.

The environment should be one where students speak mostly in English so that you can improve your English and communication skills. If you are weak in English and choose a cheap university where the students speak mainly in Mandarin, it will be difficult for you to improve your English.

Star newspaper has reported that graduates with good English earn 25% higher salary and get faster promotion. The Ministry of Education reported that there were more than 70,000 public university jobless graduates and one of the main reasons was poor command of the English language.

Would you rather suffer for 4 years and get a high salary for 60 years of your work life or an easy 4 years and low salary for 60 years? The decisions that you make now, can change your life forever. Remember the best university doesn’t mean it is the best university for you. The best university is one that fits your career goals, your personality and can push you to a higher level of success.

2 replies »

  1. I am interested in pursuing in Bachelor Engineering in Electrical and Electronic. Could you advice me which university that suits my interest. Cost around RM 50k – 100k 4 years. I also got offer from UPM for the same degree i want. But I’m hesitate with the course at UPM.

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