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Higher Education

Volume 432: debated on Wednesday 29 January 1947

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is now in a position to make a statement on the development of higher education in Malaya.

Shortly before the war detailed examination was given to the future development of higher education in Malaya and a report was made by a commission in 1939. With the Japanese invasion, however, and the subsequent occupation of the country it was impossible for positive steps to be taken as a result of that examination and report. In the meantime there have been a number of important developments in the field of higher education in the Colonies. Out of the monies made available under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, 1945, £4,500,000 has been set aside for higher education from which sum a proportion will be allocated by His Majesty's Government for the joint use of the Malayan Union and Singapore, after consideration of their needs together with those of other members of the Colonial Empire.Also in 1945 there was published the Report of the Asquith Commission which laid down certain principles affecting higher education in the Colonies generally. Since the issue of that report, and in accordance with the principles mentioned above, decisions to establish University Colleges in the West Indies and in West Africa have been taken and the Inter-University Council on Higher Education in the Colonies and the Colonial University Grants Advisory Committee have been established. The Asquith Commission was, however, unable owing to the Japanese occupation to consider the nature of the problem in Malaya except on the basis of the 1939 report.A member of the Asquith Commission, Dr. R. E. Priestley, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, recently visited Malaya to discuss with the authorities on the spot the application of the principles set out in the Report of that body. As a result of Dr. Priestley's visit I have have been reinforced in the view which my predecessor had already formed as announced in Malaya on 31st of August last, that there should be created a university college, of which the King Edward VII College of Medicine and Raffles College would form part, as a first stage in the development of a University of Malaya.To this end I propose to appoint a small commission to review the situation in the light of the Asquith Report and am fortunate in having secured the services of Sir Alexander Carr-Saunders, Director of the London School of Economics, as chairman. The commission's inquiry will be particularly directed to such fundamental questions as the constitution, financing, staffing, and siting of the future university, and of the university college which will precede it, and the creation of chairs in Malay and Chinese.The acceptance in principle of a university college in no way prejudges, at this stage, future decisions on such questions as that of its siting. These will be matters for inquiry and local consultation by the Commission, which will also consider the position of the various research and teaching institutions, including the technical college, at Kuala Lumpur, in their recommendation for the constitution of a future University. In the meantime I propose to arrange for the appointment of a principal-designate of the university college.