Chronic and Acute Disruptions in Higher Education: A Case Study of Malaysia

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Chang Da Wan
Khayriyyah Mohd Hanafiah


Disruptions have direct implications on the curriculum of higher education. Some disruptions are more subtle yet chronic such as longer-term impact from ideological changes to the national agenda and societal values relating to the purpose of higher education. There are also disruptive events such as the recent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The combined challenges due to these disruptors have impacted the curriculum and adaptations in Malaysian higher learning institutions (HLIs). This paper aims to analyse the impact of chronic and acute disruptors on the university curriculum in Malaysian higher education. Our findings from semi-structured interviews with academics and focus group discussions with students suggest that while HLIs demonstrated rapid reactions to acute needs in the case of COVID-19 restrictions, the existing structural frameworks for curriculum design and implementation provide limited flexibility in longer-term adaptation to both acute and chronic disruptions. A series of questions are posed for various stakeholders to consider in navigating these disruptions in higher education.


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