Performance-Based Funding once very popular in 1980s. However, when more other funding approaches been found out, Performance-based Funding no more a mainstream funding approaches. Recently, this funding approach has back to the stage, especially in the educational field. In this paper will explain about the pros and cons of this funding approach in the context of higher education system in Malaysia.
Keyword: Budgeting, Educational Funding, Higher Education, Performance-based funding
Performance-based funding is one of the funding approaches among numerous types of direct public funding of higher educational institution approaches. The other types of direct public funding of institution have funding of teaching through negotiated formula, demand-side vouchers, funding for specific purposes or combined funding for teaching and research, block grant funding and project funding zero-based budgeting, quality circle, six-sigma, and etc.(Salmi and Hauptman, 2006). Performance-based funding is the approach that budgeting based on the performance of individual public university. The performance of individual public university can be measure by using Performance Indicator, which is a set of specific expectation that need to be achieve by the public university. Examples of Performance Indicator are like student result or the number of student passing examination.
2. Main Body
Performance-based Funding is currently in the progress of implementation by the Ministry of Education in Malaysia toward all the public university in Malaysia. Implementation of the Performance-based Funding has brings some advantages to both Ministry of Education and public university. In this paper, some of advantages will be shown in clearly and briefly.
2.1 Help in Save Budget
First at all, Performance-based Funding can Malaysia Government to save budget. Budget always is a hot issue in Malaysia, not only the Ministry of Education but the whole Malaysia Federal Government. For example the Malaysia Budgeting 2015 that release on 10 October 2014, after the Budgeting Plan is release, many different voices are talking about this Budgeting Plan, some are appraisal, and some are critics.
Under the pressure of critics, Performance-based Funding can help release part of the pressure by saving the budget in Educational Fund. According to the study of World Bank / EPU, Performance-based Funding could save up to thirty percent of the budge. In Malaysia Budgeting 2015, budget for Ministry of Education is RM 56 billion (National News Agency of Malaysia). Save up to 30 percent of the budget, which means is about RM 16.8 billion. A reducing of such big amount of budgeting can be a great counter attack toward all the critics from outside.
2.2 Resources Allocation
Another advantage following saving budget will be resources allocation. Based on the same example on previous paragraph, Performance-based Funding could release about RM 16.8 billion of budget from the Ministry of Education. This unallocated budget can be uses in many different ways, such as increase allowance for the staff of university, as a reward for high performance university, increase loan to students and any other way that can further improve the quality of public university in Malaysia.
Besides using the unallocated fund in Ministry of Education, the unallocated fund that free by Performance-based Funding can be uses in other Ministry or field in the purpose of developing the strengths and infrastructures in Malaysia, so that Malaysia can become a developed country in 2020.
2.3 Motivate University to Work Hard.
The implementation of Performance-based Funding will not only bring advantages to the Ministry of Education or Malaysian Federal Government, it also brings advantages to the public university. Performance-based Funding will motivate the public university to work hard. The Performance-based Funding will budgeting an individual public university according to the performance of the university on the Performance Indicator. Hence, to get more fund or budget, university will do harder on improving their performance on the Performance Indicator, such as the CGPA of student, number of student get first class honors, number of student passing particular examination, and etc. These Performance Indicators will be set and measure by the Ministry of Education, so that the Ministry can funding and rewarding based on the achievement on these Performance Indicators.
2.4 Avoid Vicious Competition
Another than motivate the university to work hard, Performance-based Funding will help avoid the vicious competition among public university. Competition can be a double-edge in an organization, a suitable level of competition among colleague can improve the performance of organization. However, when vicious competition occurs, it will bring bad effect toward the organization. Same case in public university, to get more budgets from the Ministry of Education, university competes with each other to attract the attention of the Ministry, so that the university can get more funds. In many times, this competition between public universities will become vicious competition; this will bring bad effect toward the development of Malaysia, and the staff and student will become the victims of this competition.
This Performance-based Funding could avoid the vicious competition, the funding will based on the performance of the university. In this condition, university will focus more on the achievement on Performance Indicators, and the universities will not have time to compete with each other. In other word, compete with other university do not bring any help in improving the performance of university.
Same like other funding approaches; implement of Performance-based Funding will not only bring benefit, it will have some side effects or disadvantages. Some of the disadvantages will be discuss at here.
3.1 Performance Indicators
One of the main disadvantages of Performance-based Funding is the standard of the Performance Indicators. Performance Indicator is the specific expectation that will set up by the Ministry of Education. However, the problem is what standard this Performance Indicator should follow; this is because each university has own standard, own level, own expert field, and most important different number of students due to geographical condition. This means, a single set of Performance Indicator cannot fulfill all the standard of university; but it take more time, cost and human forces to set up and measure specific Performance Indicator to every and each of the university.
Besides that, setting up a set of Performance Indicator for university may affect the behavior and the decision making of the particular university. When there is a Performance Indicator, university will be more likely to focus on those Performance indicators. University strategies, planning, decision making may become aggressive in making achievement in the Performance Indicator and may ignore other aspect of Teaching and Learning Process within the university in the purpose of getting more budgets.
In a nutshell, implement Performance-based Funding in the higher education system has pros and cons. However, this funding approach has more advantages as compare to the disadvantages. Hence, Performance-based Funding is suitable to implement in higher education system in Malaysia.
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Experiences Of Women Mature Students In Higher Education
Internationally there has been a large body of literature presented on the experiences of mature students, who have returned to higher education after a significant absence from compulsory education (for example, Baxter and Britton, 1999; Baxter and Britton, 2001; Lister, 2003; O’Donnell and Tobbell, 2007; O’Shea and Stone, 2011) to name but a few. Within much of this literature Baxter and Britton (1999:181) would point out that despite the marginalisation of women in educational research studies, this has not been the case in the literature presented on mature student whereby the “mature student is usually assumed to be female” and studies have particularly focused more so on women returners rather than both genders.
Up until the late 1980s through to the early 1990s the primary research method used to conduct much of these studies was the large-scale quantitative survey, (for example, see Watkins, 1982) where the findings illustrated that mature students had a shared set of characteristics including educational background and educational achievements (Baxter and Britton, 1999; Parr, 2000). However, mature students are not a homogenous group, as each student’s higher education experience will be determined by factors including class, gender and ethnicity (O’Donnell and Tobbell, 2007; Morgan, 2013). Therefore, Richardson (1994:322) would state that to research the life experiences of mature students in higher education, this cannot be “carried out by means of bare quantitative procedures such as questionnaires” where the appropriate approach required would be to conduct individual semi-structured interviews.
The defining feature which categorises mature students is based on age but this can vary on the country in question, for example, in Sweden, Norway and Australia the mature student is classified as someone who is over twenty-five years of age (Thomas and Quinn, 2006) as opposed to the UK where according to the Higher Education Statistics Authority the mature student is someone who is over twenty-one (HESA, 2014). According to Smith (2008:1) the term mature student “identifies a category of learners who embark on a course of study later in life” and can include any adult education programme such as further and/or higher education
Historically, the role of women was to devote themselves to the position of homemaker. However, as western society as advanced to become more egalitarian this has witnessed a rapid shift in mothers with child/ren returning to education to become more self-sufficient and to gain a sense of self-identity. However, Baxter and Britton (2001) would argue that while trying to balance their student role, women still have a multiplicity of other roles were they shoulder the responsibility of childcare and domestic life, therefore, inequalities between genders are still widely seen. In recent times, the subordinate role of women in societies for example non wage winner, 2nd class citizen etc.throughout the world has significantly improved, slowly closing the gender gap in equality. One of the many advantages to this in modern society is that women have now the opportunity of gaining a good education. According to Parr (2000) this has led to increasing numbers of mature women returning to education, not just to gain a paper qualification or to obtain better job opportunities but also to become more self-sufficient and to gain a sense of self-identity. This increase in mature women returning to higher education can be linked to the formation of ‘lifelong education’ (O’Shea and Stone, 2011).
The concept of lifelong education is not new whereby, ancient societies emphasised the need “to learn from the cradle to the grave” (Gishti, 2009). However, it was not until the late twentieth/early twenty-first century that lifelong education became ‘heralded’ as an new age phenomenon, and became high on the social agenda of many governments and international organisations such as, UNESCO (Jackson, Malcolm and Thomas, 2011). In 1972 UNESCO International Commission on the Development of Education published the “Faure report” with the aim to assist governments in formulating and implementing new strategies in lifelong education. The primary underpinning of this report emphasised how important it was that every individual had the opportunity to lifelong education (Learning to be, 1972). This led to the UNESCO institute becoming the first institution to address the needs and aspirations of adult learners and in 2006 the name was changed to UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, to reflect the institute’s focus on adult learning (UNESCO, 2013).
According to Lister (2003) the primary focus in the role of lifelong learning is to combat social exclusion and target previously excluded groups. One of the many disadvantaged groups that lifelong learning particularly aims to benefit is those of women who have caring responsibilities and childcare commitments. Encompassing a broad perspective Lister (2003) would also note that the role of higher education plays a key part in the development of lifelong learning However, Jackson et al (2011:5) argues that in western societies women continue to be limited to their choices of learning when returning to education as “the gendered nature of the hidden curriculum […] restrict women’s access” to many courses. This in turn can create difficulties for women who are interested in following a particular career path. Nonetheless, for mature women lifelong learning can be a source of empowerment and emancipation (Bhattachra, 2014). Therefore, “education is seen as empowering, in that it opens up employment opportunities and is a vehicle for the development of the self.” (Baxter and Britton, 2001:87).
Upon commencing on this journey of self-discovery, O’ Shea and Stone (2011) would note that as mature students, women may harbour feelings of self-doubt and hesitation. In trying to play the role of the student, O’Shea’s (2014) study found that mature women encounter many anxieties where they feel like ‘imposters’ in a higher education institute after having been absent from education for such a long time. According to O’Donnell and Tobbell (2007) many adult students in general, regardless of their gender, feel vulnerable because they lack experience in formal education and also because they have additional pressures outside of education to contend with, such as family responsibilities.
From the scoping review of the literature above there is a clear demonstrable opportunity for research on mature women that return to education after a significant gap. Therefore, this dissertation aims to explore how non-traditional mature ?? women manage their student role along with the multitude of other responsibilities that they shoulder. Within the framework of this study, this dissertation will also examine the emotional journey of mature women from the transition of ‘expected’ roles to the enablement of participation in life-long learning and personal capacity building. Coming from a feminist perspective the social specific issues which will be addressed include the empowerment, inequality and oppression of women with children or other caring responsibilities.