By KAREN CHAPMAN and PRIYA KULASAGARAN
KUALA LUMPUR: Action will be taken against the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) employee who mistakenly uploaded the names of 8,173 "successful" applicants who had met the minimum criteria for entry into the university.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin acknowledged that there was human error involved and asked USM to take action against the staff. Over 8,000 students had been "told" their applications for a place at the university were successful when the list should only have the names of 3,599 students.
"I leave it to the university and will not dictate what action should be taken," he told reporters after opening the vice-chancellors' forum at the 17th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (17th CCEM) at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.
"Things like this do occur but I am not saying that it can be forgiven or accepted," he said.
USM, he added, had been asked to improve its system to ensure the incident would not be repeated.
An online blunder by the apex status university in its first direct intake of undergraduates led to some 200 irate parents and applicants causing a ruckus at the campus recently.
The error resulted in 4,574 students being wrongly informed that they had obtained places at the university.
Acting vice-chancellor (Academic and International Affairs) Prof Ahmad Shukri Mustapa Kamal said the mistake occurred as the university was in a "haste" to prepare the list of successful applicants for the Higher Education Ministry. He said once USM realised its mistake, it took about two hours to rectify the problem.
USM was granted the apex status last September, thus allowing it to select students directly.
Mohamed Khaled said priority would be given to the 4,574 students if there were any vacancies at USM.
In his speech when opening the forum earlier, Mohamed Khaled said vice-chancellors play a pivotal role in drafting institutional master plans and developing academic blueprints that define the very character and reputation of their universities.
He said their educational stance often determine whether a university is conservative, progressive or avant-garde.
"This forum is the right platform for vice-chancellors to discuss a whole host of issues faced by university leaders," he said.
Brunei Education Minister Awang Abdul Rahman Mohamed Taib said this was the second time such a forum was being held.