Policies and Practices Governing Disability in Malaysia’s Higher Education: A Comparison with England and Australia

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Clarene Tan
Melissa Ng Lee Yen Abdullah
Munir Shuib


Throughout the last decade in Malaysia, participation of students with disabilities in higher education has seen minimal growth. This paper investigates the policies and practices regulating disability in Malaysia’s higher education. Three aspects — legislation, funding, and governance — are analysed. To reveal the gaps in policy and practice, comparison is carried out with the cases of England and Australia. The research involved examining government documents such as disability acts, action plans, and research and statistics reports, combined with interviewing university administrators. It was found that Malaysian legislation requires more supporting details and that disability funding for universities should be considered. For governance, systematic legislation review and specific university monitoring are recommended. Establishing an independent national entity to conciliate grievances is proposed to address the inadequate redress mechanism available for students with disabilities. Overall, the government and universities could ensure that disability information is available in the public domain, especially online. Such practice would enhance disability awareness and knowledge for all. Although this paper mainly takes on the perspective of a developing nation, it attains an international orientation as it also depicts the workings of the developed world in governing disability in higher education.


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