Private Higher Education Institutions (IPTS) have an important role in realizing Malaysia's goal of emerging as a centre of excellence in higher education.
Apart from complementing Public Higher Education Institutions (IPTA), IPTS also contribute to the quality of education, and meet the demands of the employment market.
Further, IPTS contribute significantly to developing education, and the economy, by creating employment opportunities and stemming currency outflow.
KFC Holdings (Malaysia) Berhad (KCFH) has, therefore, entered the education sector through the establishment of KFCH International College.
The company's foray into this sector started in January 2010, when it acquired Paramount International College in Puchong, Selangor, and renamed it KFCH International College (KFCHic).
On June 11, this year, KFCHic's new campus in Johor Baharu was inaugurated by Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin.
KFCH INTERNATIONAL COLLEGE
"We have planned to develop this college as a leading private education institute in Asia, specializing in hospitality and food services," said KFCH Chairman Kamaruzzaman Abu Kasim.
So far, KFCH has invested about RM25 million in acquiring, equipping and upgrading the existing campus in Puchong, and on the first phase of development of the new campus in Johor Baharu.
The campus in Puchong has been upgraded with new amenities to increase its intake capacity from 800 students per academic year, currently. According to Kamaruzzaman, qualified lecturers and support staff at the institute will ensure students receive adequate exposure and training.
"Currently, the college has rolled-out several short-term courses and diploma programmes, and there are plans to introduce degree programmes in stages, with the cooperation of other universities. Our ultimate goal is to attain university status," he said, during the campus inauguration in Johor.
THE JOHOR BAHARU CAMPUS
KFCHic's 2.4 hectare campus in Johor Baharu is located in Bandar Dato' Onn. It is being developed in three stages, and is expected to be completed by 2015.
When fully operational, the campus will offer the entire range of courses in hospitality, food services and food science, and diploma programmes.
When the development is complete, the college will be able to accept 12,000 students per year.
"The response from students is very encouraging, and we have met the target," said Jamilah Ahmad, a lecturer in Hotel Management at KFCHic.
"The college also provides a place to stay, and transport for students. Apart from that, they can expect help in job placement. KFCH, too, will offer them job opportunities," she added.
Among the subjects taught are restaurant management, culinary arts, hotel management, tourism management, event management, food technology, halal education and business administration.
HUMAN CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT
According to Kamaruzzaman, KFCHic will enhance education for its employees, in keeping with its goal of continuous human capital development.
KFCH has about 22,000 employees in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and India, currently, making the company one of the biggest employers in the food sector in the region.
Last year, KFCH invested about RM5.1 million on training and development of its employees. On an average, employees undergo 67 hours of training.
"We are making efforts to provide educational opportunities to students from various backgrounds," Kamaruzzaman said.
Meanwhile, Higher Education Minister Mohamed Khaled noted that Malaysia's transformation into a developed state depends on its ability to generate skilled manpower to fulfill its needs.
At present, there are 20 universities, 29 polytechnic institutes and 37 community colleges in the public sector, while the private sector has 25 universities, five foreign branch campuses and 22 university colleges.
Mohamed Khaled said these institutions played an important role in developing manpower. He believes the learning process has to correspond to phases in national development.
"The human capital in hospitality and restaurant management in the country calls for higher knowledge, ethics and communication skills," he said.
He pointed out that students have to be equipped with the 5Cs - critical thinking, capability of solving problems, communicating effectively, creative and innovative thinking, cooperative teamwork and cultural literacy.
He added that all educational institutions should plan strategically to develop human capital that can meaningfully contribute to national development.