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End of partnership with MDIS in Singapore

Friday, 26 November 2010


At ECU we have decided not to renew our partnership with MDIS in Singapore. The relationship had continued for 11 years.

It is my view that our Strategic Goals at ECU, particularly the rigorous commitment to quality and quality assurance processes, will be greatly facilitated by moving into the ‘teach out’ process at MDIS and expanding our relationship with the Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMa) in Singapore.

There has been comment in the Singaporean press, not all of it representative of the factual situation. Here I draw to your attention seven excellent questions put to me by journalist Ashley Mischa Chia from The New Paper in Singapore, and my responses to the questions. Although at the time of writing this communication to the ECU community the article has yet to be published, Ashley has kindly given us permission to use the questions on our website and in communication with our students.

1. What is the current number of ECU students in Year 1, 2, and 3 in MDIS Singapore?

Current number of ECU student at MDIS in Singapore is 345.

2. I understand that the courses offered by ECU in MDIS is three years.  In the 1st year, students are to go through a diploma program, and receive a Professional Diploma in Business (PDE) (which bears both ECU and MDIS logos) before proceeding on to the 2nd year of studies with ECU. Are these 1st year students considered to be under ECU's care?

Students who undertake the Professional Diploma in Business at MDIS should be enrolled with MDIS where ECU has no accessibility.  On successful completion of the Professional Diploma, ECU is happy to have the students be given credit in the appropriate ECU degree, should they become an ECU student, at our home base in Western Australia or with one of the ECU partners elsewhere in the world.

3. There are some 2nd year students who have just started their first semester in October this year. They have been told that if they have not yet been issued an ECU student ID at this point, they are not considered ECU students. Please clarify.

Where MDIS has complied with the application and enrolment terms of the ECU-MDIS Agreement in respect of a student's enrolment, those students will be given a student ID and will be registered as ECU students. Under Australian Law, ECU is obligated to inform the Australian Government of the number of enrolled students at ECU, both on-shore and off-shore. We understand that under the Singapore Private Education Act, students must be duly enrolled at the University before they can continue any course of study.

4. For current 2nd and 3rd year students, they are given two - three years to complete their degree. Please confirm.

5. What are the options open to them should they need to retake their modules?

At ECU the interests and welfare of students are paramount, and ECU will make all necessary arrangements to ensure that students can fulfil their aspirations as far as is reasonably possible. ECU students at MDIS have been advised that they will have discussions one-on-one with ECU staff to finalise a course planner for each student which will indicate the time needed to complete the degree. Normally, degree completion will take around two years. For some students it may be necessary to provide options for completion of their degree externally, or with another ECU partner.

6. MDIS marketed the ECU programs and took in a new batch of students in October 2010. Why was MDIS allowed to market ECU programs and recruit students under ECU when the contract was not going to be renewed?

During 2010, ECU has expressed concern to MDIS about quality assurance issues over an extended period. In February these issues were raised by three ECU senior staff directly with the President of MDIS and several of his staff when MDIS was suggesting expansion with ECU in another country. The ECU position was made clear – no expansion anywhere until the quality issues are resolved. The quality issues were raised again on 23 June, again on 1 September and again on 1 October. MDIS was informed personally by the Vice-Chancellor by telephone and by email on 1 September 2010 regarding many quality assurance issues that had not been addressed, and then again on 1 October 2010 in a face-to-face meeting with the President and several of his senior staff, together with senior members of ECU.

Since ECU is not responsible for the priorities MDIS uses to conduct its business, we are unable to comment on why MDIS continued to recruit students and indeed take a new batch in October when outstanding quality issues needed to be resolved. In any case, ECU has agreed to accept bona fide ECU students and will strive to facilitate ECU students enrolled through MDIS before 21 October 2010 completing their studies in a timely manner.

7. Sources have told us that ECU has signed a new deal with SMa Singapore. What are the new courses that ECU will be offering in SMa and when will these new courses commence?

ECU has established a high quality partnership with SMa beginning in 2004. The partnership is continuing to expand subject to the quality assurance processes of SMa and ECU, and the legal and quality assurance requirements of the Council for Private Education in Singapore.

Professor Kerry O. Cox *

* Professor Kerry Cox was Vice-Chancellor of Edith Cowan University from March 2006 to September 2014.

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