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Malaysia: Confusion over recognition of law degrees in private universities

Taylor's University Malaysia

Taylor’s University, Malaysia

Two private universities which have been running homegrown law courses have defended their programmes, saying they have not placed any misleading information in their advertisement.

Taylor’s University dean of law school Harmahinder Singh said the university had always been forthcoming about the status of its programme with the Legal Profession Qualifying Board of Malaysia.

“Information about this matter has been published in all of our prospectuses and included in information-sharing sessions with prospective students and parents,” he said.

(The LPQB’s task is to prescribe the qualifications that would entitle someone to become a “qualified person” within the Legal Profession Act for the purpose of admission as an advocate and solicitor in Malaysia.)

Harmahinder was responding to a statement by the Malaysian Bar which named five universities that offered law degrees that are not recognised by the Board – Taylor’s University, HELP University, Management and Science University, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia and Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin.

He said students enrolled in its Bachelor of Laws (LLB) course were given the option to graduate in the homegrown programme or transfer to one of its partner universities from the United Kingdom which are on the list of universities recognised by the LPQB for the Certificate in Legal Practice (CLP) exam purposes.

HELP University law and government faculty dean Vasantha Moorthy said students enrolled in its LLB programme were given offer letters which clearly stated that they were only pursuing an academic degree which would not qualify them for the CLP exam.

“The students have been duly advised that they cannot join the legal profession upon graduation,” said Vasantha.

She said the university also offered another law course through the UK Degree Transfer Programme affiliated with nine partner universities from the UK which are on the LPQB’s list of recognised universities.

In a statement published on its website, the Malaysian Bar quoting its president Christopher Leong said students enrolled in programmes that were not recognised by the Board would not be permitted to practise law in the country after graduating.

“It is the responsibility of the educational institutions to inform and bring to the attention of their students that the institutions’ law degrees are not recognised by the LPQB. It is incumbent upon the institutions to do so in writing,” said Leong.

Although the law schools concerned may be accredited with the Malaysian Qualifications Agency, he said its mere accreditation was not adequate to satisfy the applicable criteria, where entry into the legal profession was concerned.

Leong, however, acknowledged that some of those institutions also offered twinning law programmes that culminated in law degrees conferred by foreign universities which may be recognised by the LPQB.

He urged students intending to pursue a law degree to verify with the LPQB the status of the educational institutions and law programme of their choice.

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