Archive for category university

The war to restore student autonomy in UM

By Chow Yu Hui
Malaysiakini
Oct 29, 2014

ADUN SPEAKS The night before PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim’s final appeal against his sodomy charge, the nation was moved by the brave act of the Universiti Malaysia Students Union (PMUM) who invited Anwar to return to his alma mater to give his final speech.

The venue for his speech was UM’s most historical structure, the Dewan Tunku Canselor (DTC). It is a symbolic structure which witnesses the start and end of a UM student’s academic life.

The student movement which once threatened political power of Umno and BN was first gagged by the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) in 1971.

After various amendments to the Act, Umno/BN succeeded in controlling all universities through oppressing the student leaders, academic staffs and the core value of a university, which is the academic freedom.

And after all these years, we were left asking: ‘Will the UM administration allow a programe involving the Opposition Leader?’ Read the rest of this entry »

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UM should withdraw its police report, admit it has made a colossal blunder in the campus lockdown and power black-out and enlist student/alumni/academician support to restore academic freedom to regain international repute for academic excellence

The University of Malaya should withdraw its police report allegedly over “trespass” on its grounds when students and supporters defied a lockdown and blackout of the university campus on Monday night to attend Anwar Ibrahim’s talk on “40 years: From UM to prison” at Dataran Dewan Tunku Canselor.

The University of Malaya administration should take an enlightened attitude to what happened on Monday, admit it had made a colossal blunder in the lockdown and power black-out of University of Malaya and enlist the support of university students, alumni, academicians and the Malaysian public to restore academic freedom to regain the university’s international repute for academic excellence in its early decades.

Of course, the university administration can go on a witch-hunt and vengeful campaign to penalise students and even academicians for what happened on Monday night, but this would be an even greater disservice to its national and international reputation and would do nothing to restore its repute as the country’s premier university. Read the rest of this entry »

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Anwar brought out the worst in UM

– Thulsi Manogaran
The Malaysian Insider
28 October 2014

It has been long written by William O. Douglas that the most important aspect of freedom of speech is the freedom to learn. All education is a continuous dialogue comprising of questions and answers that pursue every problem on the horizon. That is the essence of academic freedom.

I am not a big fan of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim but I stand for academic freedom and freedom of speech. Anything that curtails the intellectual growth of my fellow Malaysians is a barrier to the nation’s growth.

I stand against suppression and indoctrination especially in the field of education. By now, we all know the reaction from Universiti Malaya’s administration on the close down of the entire university. UM staff were sent home early and classes cancelled. All entrances were locked.

However, what happened thereafter in UM is proof that no amount of suppression can work to curtail progress and change. Malaysia’s social landscape is changing and it is time those in power remember and accept the fact that you are in control because we, the rakyat, gave you control. Read the rest of this entry »

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Lock-down/shut-down of University of Malaya to prevent Anwar from speaking to students is latest example of “first world infrastructure, third world mentality” afflicting our universities which will condemn the nation to a future of mediocrity

Imaging the lock-down of the University of Oxford and the shut-down of all electricity supplies to plunge one of the leading universities in the world into darkness just to deny the British Opposition Leader, Edward Miliband from returning to his alma mater campus to address the undergraduates?

Or imaging the lock-down of Monash University and the shut down of all electricity supplies to prevent the Australian Opposition Leader William Shorten from addressing students in his alma mater university, which had advertised itself online thus: “Monash is ranked in the top one per cent of world universities – 91st in the world – according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013/14”. (Monash this month improved its franking in the THE World University Rankings in 2014/15 to No. 83).

Banish both thoughts, for it would be completely unthinkable that such silly notions would be entertained by any self-respecting university administrator or even political leader in United Kingdom – just as it would be completely unthinkable that world-class American universities like Harvard, Stanford, California Institute of Technology or Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) would be locked down or their electricity supplies completely shut down to prevent Opposition politicians from returning to their alma mater universities to speak to the university students.

Former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s indictment of Malaysia a decade ago as “a nation of first-class infrastructure but third-world mentality” is even more telling and relevant today in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s Malaysia in 2014. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why is Universiti Malaya afraid of Anwar Ibrahim?

— P Ramakrishnan
Aliran
October 27, 2014

OCTOBER 27 — We can understand why Barisan Nasional, particularly Umno, is so terrified of Anwar Ibrahim. If anyone can send the BN packing off from Putrajaya, it has to be Anwar.

He is the only one who can hold Pakatan Rakyat together and mount an effective challenge to unseat BN from Putrajaya. He is the only one who can galvanise the Malays and non-Malays to come together to bring about a change in government.

Anwar is undoubtedly a political threat to the BN’s power and position. So they fear him — with justification!

Why is Universiti Malaya afraid of Anwar? Is he any threat to UM? What kind of threat does he pose to UM? Why are they imposing a ban on his speaking engagement at the invitation of the UM Students’ Council? Read the rest of this entry »

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Students come together in defiance of UM

by Muzliza Mustafa and Lee Shi-Ian
28 October 2014

The students who forced themselves into the University Malaya campus tonight to listen to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim speak said the situation would not have come to this if only the university’s administration had not banned the event.

Many felt that the failure by UM in acknowledging academic freedom and the rights of students was what pulled the crowd together.

Wei Yan, 21, a student from UM said what happened last night was historical as students stood united in support of each other.

“This is big. It is not about politics. I just believe that he (Anwar) as an individual should be allowed to address the students in campus, like other leaders. He has given speeches before, but it was outside. This is good because the students could listen and digest what he said,” said Wei Yan.

The event, ‘Pidato Anwar Ibrahim: 40 Tahun Dari UM ke Penjara’, had been declared illegal by UM vice-chancellor of student affairs Professor Datuk Dr Rohana Yusof.

But the crowd, which numbered about 2,000, forced their way through the main gates before Anwar arrived and spoke for about 20 minutes. Read the rest of this entry »

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What is the rankings’ message for varsities?

By Dr I Lourdesamy
Malaysiakini
Oct 15, 2014

The Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2014-2015 has caused some concern in Malaysia, and rightly so. There is not a single Malaysian university in the top 400 positions. What is more discomforting is the decision of Universiti Malaya (UM) and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) to opt out from participating in the THE ranking exercise. They argue that the THE ranking is less relevant to their direction and focus.

They are featured in the QS World University Rankings, which seems to present a more favourable picture of their performance. Their decision to accept the QS ratings and reject the THE ratings has only compounded the problem, for it seems to reflect a lack of academic honesty. At one time UM was on the THE list but as its rankings began to fall, UM decided not to participate in the survey.

Several criticisms have been levelled at Malaysian universities for their poor showing in international rankings of educational institutions. Malaysian universities are constantly compared with Singapore where the National University of Singapore (NUS) secured a world ranking of 25 in the THE list for 2014-2015 and Nanyang Technological University was placed 61.

Several universities in East Asia have also shown high rankings, with the University of Tokyo leading the pack at position 23.

What is the message for Malaysian universities, especially for UM which started off at the same time as NUS? Read the rest of this entry »

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Chasing a generation of globally mobile students

By Helen Warrell
Financial Times
October 7, 2014

More than 150 years ago, the Catholic cardinal John Henry Newman set out his vision for a university as “a place of concourse, whither students come from every quarter for every kind of knowledge”. As students have become more mobile, and higher education institutions more international, Cardinal Newman might be surprised at the truly diverse concourse of the modern education market.

Driving the globalisation of universities are children from the middle classes in emerging economies who aspire to highly skilled jobs. In Asia especially, the development of universities has not kept pace with rising levels of affluence, creating a shortfall of places. As a result, western economies are vying to attract a growing pool of youngsters looking to study abroad. And in fast-growing nations such as India and Brazil, the race to build more universities is on.

Much of this change is necessitated by sheer demographics. More than half of India’s population is under 25 years old; by 2020 it will be ahead of China as the country with the largest population at tertiary-education age. The flow of Chinese students overseas is expected to grow as much as 15 per cent a year until 2018. Already, 2.5m students globally are studying outside their home country, creating a sector worth $30bn a year for the US, the UK, Canada and Australia, according to the Parthenon Group education consultancy. Read the rest of this entry »

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No joke, UM ranked among world-top 300 Universities in Times Higher Education ranking, but this UM is not University of Malaya but a university most Malaysians do not know

I could not believe my eyes when I received an email yesterday proclaiming “UM ranked among world-top 300 universities in Times Higher Education World University Rankings” as every informed Malaysian should know by now after a week-long controversy that University of Malaya had suffered the ignominy of being excluded from annual Times Higher Education (THE) Top 400 University Rankings for the fifth consecutive year since the launch of the series in 2010.

When I opened the email, I found that it was indeed true that “UM ranked among world-top 300 universities in THE rankings” but this UM is not the University of Malaya but an university most Malaysians had never heard of before.
This UM is the University of Macau.

The email contained a press release issued by the University of Macau (UM) on 2nd October 2014 that it had been ranked among the world’s top 300 universities, between 276 and 300, by THE World University Rankings 2014-15, and that “this is the first time UM made the list, and, it should be considered an outstanding and momentum building result because merely a few years ago the university were not in the top 400”.
The “UM” announcement, which was forwarded to me yesterday, went on to say:

“In recent years, UM has made a great effort to improve teaching and research, following international standards and making significant social and global outreach.

“In particular, it carried out a comprehensive reform of its undergraduate curriculum, established the Honours College, incorporated international perspective into its curricula, implemdenting an unique ‘4-in-1’ model of education (which consists of discipline-specific education, general education, research and internship education, as well as peer and community education) and established Asia’s largest and in-depth system of residential colleges.”

The UM statement went on to say that while UM welcomes the good results of THE ranking, “it would nevertheless like to stress that the university is not working for a place in the ranking” but “takes to heart the principal reason of education, namely it works to provide the best education for Macao kids to be outstanding global citizens of the 21st century”.

The University of Macau was founded in 1981 as a private university and only became a public university with Macau’s handover to China in 1999. Read the rest of this entry »

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Will Najib mention in his 2015 Budget speech on Friday the exclusion of Malaysian universities from the THE Top 400 University Ranking for fifth successive year?

Will the Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak mention in his 2015 Budget speech on Friday the exclusion of Malaysian universities from the Times Higher Education (THE) Top 400 University Ranking 2014 for the fifth successive year?

Or has he forgotten and regretted his challenge to the University of Malaya nine years ago to be among the world’s Top 50 universities by year 2020, which is only five years away?

Three weeks ago, Najib twittered congratulations to the five Malaysian universities which were ranked higher in the Top 400 of the QS World University Ranking 2014, namely University of Malaya (UM) ranked 167 last year to 151; University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) from 269 to 259; University Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) from 355 to 294; Universiti Sains Malaysia from 355 to 309; Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) from 411-420 to 376.

But there has been a deafening silence from Najib as well as from the DPM-cum- Education Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in the past week over the exclusion of Malaysian universities in Top 400 in another global university ranking – THE University Ranking 2014-2015. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hold a referendum to let the 50,000 undergraduates and post-graduate students of UM and UKM decide whether to join or boycott the THE university rankings

The Universiti Malaya Students Association (PMUM) has come out in support of Universiti Malaya and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia opting out of the annual Times Higher Education Top 400 World University Rankings.

PMUM president Fahmi Zainol said the two universities deserve praise for their move, pointing out that the institutions have been plagued with problems for being too focussed on rankings.

I can understand the view that quality education is not dependent only on university rankings and that universities should not be too obsessed with them. In fact, it has been asked: “University rankings: reliable or rubbish?”

The Norwegian government has even commissioned a study of the placement of Norwegian universities in global rankings and concluded that university rankings are “useless” as a basis for information if the goal is to improve higher education as they are so based on subjective weightings of factors and on dubious data. This Norwegian report was described as “A Kiss of Death for university rankings” by a Norwegian academician.

There are undoubtedly pros and cons on university rankings.

Have Fahmi thought through the whole subject of university rankings and are his views his personal ones, or the official view of the PMUM Executive Committee, as well as representing that of the UKM Students Council?

Are they the views of the 50,000 undergraduates and post-graduate students in the two universities?

If Fahmi is opposed to UM and UKM taking part in the annual THE World University Rankings, why does he support the two universities taking part in the annual QS World University Rankings and UM’s decision to take part in the THE World University Ranking in 2018 when UM is more ready to compete with other established universities around the world?

It would be a good for hold a referendum to let the 50,000 under-graduates and post-graduate students of UM and UKM decide whether the two university should join or continue to boycott the THE university rankings, and let the proponents of both the pros and cons of the argument to state their case, not only to the university student-and-lecturer population but to the nation at large.

This referendum proposition is a subject which PMUM and the UKM Students Council should seriously consider to take up with the university authorities. Read the rest of this entry »

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Muhyiddin should initiate a review to end the policy of boycott of UM and UKM in the annual THE World University Rankings to demonstrate our seriousness in wanting to restore the international reputation and academic excellence of Malaysian universities

For the third day in succession, the Barisan Nasional owned/controlled mainstream mass media has maintained a blanket of silence on the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2014 in tandem with the Education Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Barisan Nasional leaders also going dumb on the latest world’s Top Universities Ranking because of the shame and disgrace of not a single Malaysian university able to crack a placing among the Top 400 Universities listing for the fifth consecutive year.

This is a most strange and abnormal international behaviour, for in the past three days in countries which realize the critical importance of education in determining the future of their economies, the THE World University Rankings 2014 released on Thursday had dominated the public domain and debates, with their mass media and public opinion leaders either celebrating the success of their universities or lamenting their setbacks in the latest THE Top 400 University rankings.

For instance, while the US and UK media reported on the continued dominance of their universities in the Top 400 Universities Ranking, they also warned that “Western leading universities risk declining, Asian institutes keep rising in new rankings”.

Similarly while Australian media take pride in not only having world-class universities but a world-class university system, they worry whether such world standards could be maintained with the full deregulation of tuition fees underway in its radical reform programme, as reflected in headlines like “Australian universities rise in world rankings but report questions proposed tertiary education reforms”. Read the rest of this entry »

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Congrats to BN-owned/controlled “mainstream mass media” in achieving a world record in ignoring THE World University Rankings 2014 for two consecutive days because not a single Malaysian university made it to the Top 400 universities list for fifth year

Congrats to the Barisan Nasional-owned/controlled mainstream mass media in achieving a world record in ignoring the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2014 for two consecutive days because not a single Malaysian university made it to the THE Top 400 Universities list for the fifth year in succession.

The THE Top 400 World University Rankings 2014 show a “power shift” from the United States and United Kingdom to the Far East.

While US and UK universities continue to dominate the THE World University Rankings 2014, they are starting to lose ground to East Asian rivals.

What should concern Malaysians is why this shift of higher education excellence from the West to the East has by-passed Malaysia.

Some 24 Asian universities are now in the top 200 compared with 20 a year earlier. This includes two listed in the top 25 – Tokyo University and the National University of Singapore.

In the top 400 universities list, 52 are from Asia, comprising Japan 12, China 12, South Korea 9, Hong Kong 6, Taiwan 6, India 4, Singapore 2, Thailand 1.

But there is not a single Malaysian University not only in the Top 200 but also in the Top 400 universities listed in the THE World University Rankings, not only for 2014 but for the entire five year THE World University Rankings series since 2010. Read the rest of this entry »

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What is Najib and Muhyiddin going to do about the crying shame and national disgrace that not a single Malaysian university could get into the THE Top 400 World University Rankings 2014?

Today the media of all countries with higher education masterplans and strategies to take their people and economies to greater heights are focussing and debating the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2014, and the performance of their universities – with the exception of Malaysia.

Not a word in the Malaysian mainstream media owned or controlled by the Barisan Nasional parties about the THE World University Rankings 2014 and the dismal performance of Malaysian universities.

The reason is simple. For the fifth year in succession, since the launching of the THE World University Rankings in 2010, not a single university had made it into the THE Top 400 University Rankings.

The Education Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin maintains a conspicuous silence about the continued exclusion for the fifth year of Malaysian universities from the THE Top 400 Universities, just as he had continued to maintain a conspicuous, inelegant and infamous silence about Malaysia’s poor performance in the 2011 TIMSS (Trends in International Maths and Science Study) and 2012 PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) both of which fell during his term in the education ministry.

Muhyiddin is only good in eating sour grapes with regard to the ranking of Malaysian universities in international university rankings. Read the rest of this entry »

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Latest rebuttals to the DPM and PM’s boasts of Malaysia as “world’s best democracy” and “world’s best education system”

Malaysians woke up this morning to further and latest rebuttals to the Deputy Prime Minister and the Prime Minister’s boasts of Malaysia as the “one of the world’s best education system” and “world’s best democracy”.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s boast that Malaysia has “one of the world’s best education system” was given a bloody nose by the report that Malaysian universities again failed to make the cut to this year’s Times Higher Education (THE) top 200 global rankings while Singapore’s National University (which shared the same beginnings with University of Malaya) leapt into the top 25 universities list.

The Malay Mail Online in its report “Malaysian universities not in top 200 global rankings, Singapore’s improves” said the latest index shows a significant drop for Malaysian universities from last year’s ranking.

Muhyiddin has been Education Minister for more than five years since 2009.

He should make a Ministerial statement when Parliament resumes next Tuesday on Oct. 7 why all efforts during year tenure as Education Minister for over five years have failed to restore Malaysia’s high international standing in university academic repute and excellence in the fifties and sixties – to the extent that for five consecutive years, none of the Malaysian universities had been able to be ranked among the THE Top 200 University Rankings. Read the rest of this entry »

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After ‘attack’ on academic freedom, UM students to rally forth

The Malay Mail Online
By Ida Lim
September 3, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 3 — Angered by the sedition prosecution of their vocal law lecturer Dr Azmi Sharom, a group of University of Malaya (UM) scholars will lead a rally here next Wednesday to reclaim fully their academic freedom.

Student leader Vince Tan said the charge against Azmi over the latter’s comments on the 2009 Perak constitutional crisis, is an “attack” on institutions of higher learning, and voiced concern at the growing repression of intellectual thinking.

“We feel there is an attack on academic freedom. We have come to a level that is beyond acceptable, because academic freedom in UM and Malaysia has gone so low. (An) academic can be charged for just stating an opinion in the field of his study.

“So we are coming out with a protest together with academics in UM, September 10, 1pm to 2pm,” the secretary-general of student rights group Progressive University of Malaya told Malay Mail Online when met at the court complex here yesterday. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cabinet meeting tomorrow must let Malaysians know whether the Barisan Nasional Malaysian government has gone bonkers

The top agenda for the Cabinet meeting tomorrow should be to answer the question right-thinking Malaysians have been asking the past week whether the Malaysian government has gone bonkers.

The week leading to the 57th Merdeka Anniversary gives new cause for concern as to the direction and future of Malaysia under the premiership of Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Of special concern are the speeches delivered at UMNO divisional meetings. I need refer only to three of them.

The first was the reckless and irresponsible speech by the Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hassan at the Rembau UMNO division meeting, concocting the lie that “three days after the opposition (Pakatan Rakyat) forms the Federal Government, it will have its first cabinet meeting, where the main agenda will be the reunion of Singapore with Malaysia” coupled with the preposterous and utterly baseless allegation that this could be done (allegedly involving an increase of 89 non-Malay parliamentary seats) without having to amend the Federal Constitution in Parliament.

This was followed by the Minister for Agriculture and Agro-based Industry, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob whose speech to the Gopeng UMNO delegates meeting on Merdeka eve indulged in fear-mongering alleging that the Malays were “under attack” in Malaysia.

Ismail lamented that the Malay race is divided into ‘Umno Malays’, ‘PAS Malays’, ‘PKR Malays’ and ‘DAP Malays’ when it is imperative that the Malay race should stand united as they were when the country achieved independence. Read the rest of this entry »

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Our medical colleges – for better or for worse?

By Dr. Ng Swee Choon
Malaysiakini
Aug 27, 2014

COMMENT Medical colleges in the country have been hogging the headlines of late. Certain medical colleges have shamed us publicly and internationally for allegedly not paying staff salaries and not settling their contractual dues.

If the medical colleges involved do not feel ashamed, we Malaysians and Malaysian doctors feel the shame. It is certainly not our Malaysian culture to be known across the world for this.

Recently, there was also the irresponsible statement by Deputy Education Minister P Kamalanathan to cut down on places in public medical colleges when the problem is with private medical colleges. Private medical education is now big business.

I am writing to highlight this very important issue that medical education has now become a business, important only for the bottom line of the company owning the licence. Read the rest of this entry »

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Muhyiddin should present to October Parliament a Higher Education Masterplan to produce at least two world-class universities by 2020 instead of allowing Malaysian universities to become recruiting grounds for terrorists for Islamic State (IS) war in Syria and Iraq

The admission by the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi that local tertiary institutions have become recruiting grounds for militants and that Dr. Mahmud Ahmad, senior lecturer with University of Malaya (UM)’s Department of Akidah and Islamic Thought, the Academy of Islamic Studies, was among five individuals wanted by the police for militant activities have catapulted Malaysian universities to unwanted national and international attention and publicity.

Instead of producing world-class universities in keeping with the Vision 2020 objective to achieve developed nation status, Malaysian universities have for the past decade been a national embarrassment, annually confirming the absence of world-class universities in Malaysia.

Malaysia was completely absent from the Times Higher Education World Rankings 2013-2014 for the world’s top 400 University.

For the second year running, Malaysia failed to get on the list of the 2014 Times Higher Education (THE) Top 100 Universities under 50 years old – although four Asian universities are ranked among the top 10 of the world’s young universities, two from South Korea, one from Hong Kong and one from Singapore. In Malaysia, all the public universities except for University of Malaya, are under 50 years old.

Malaysia was also excluded from the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings 2014 for the Top 100 Universities, although 14 universities from Asia were included – five from Japan, two from Singapore, three from South Korea, one from China, two from Hong Kong and one from Taiwan. Read the rest of this entry »

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Our varsities neutered and muted, say academics

by Sheridan Mahavera
The Malaysian Insider
4 July 2014

A culture of fear and pressure to follow the dictates of political masters built over three decades has made public universities anti-intellectual and mediocre, say academics.

They told The Malaysian Insider that while universities were supposed to be the conscience of society, they, however, have been neutered and muted.

They said political pressure to “toe the line” is a daily reality in universities, and those who are critical are harassed while those who kowtow are rewarded with plum posts.

At the same time, cronyism and racism have led to genuinely hardworking researchers being passed over for salary raises and promotions, while others less qualified, but on good terms with the top administrators, are easily elevated.

If the culture continues, the academics warn, standards in these varsities could plunge, making their degrees virtually worthless and their graduates almost unemployable. Read the rest of this entry »

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