Why Malaysian universities fallen so low in international rankings?

Is Malaysia on the cusp of a major national transformation to restore national unity, achieve excellence and regain international competitiveness after the slew of policy initiatives, like the “1Malaysia, People First, Performance Now” and the impementation of the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) with seven National Key Result Areas (NKRAs), Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) with 12 National Key Economic Areas (NKEAs), the New Economic Model with eight Strategic Reform Initiatives (SRIs), and latest the Political Transformation Programme to repeal and reform undemocratic laws?

We are still very far from it and the following events and incidents in the past few weeks and months are salutary reminders of this solemn fact that we still have a very long way to go to have any transformational mindset and mentality, viz:

1. Exclusion of Malaysian universities from Times Higher Education (THE) 400 Top World University Ranking 2011/12.

The recent release of the Times Higher Education (THE) 400 Top World University Ranking 2011/12, where not a single Malaysian university is included, has punctured the elation and euphoria just two months ago over the QS 200 World University Rankings 2011/12 which saw University of Malaya making to the top 200 Top Universities moving 40 places to 167 compared to 2010.

In the QS World University Rankings 2011/12, four other Malaysian universities slid down the rankings – University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) ranked 279 this year compared to 263 in 2010; Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) ranked 335 (309 last year); Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) ranked 358 (319 last year) and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) at between 401 and 450 (365 last year).

But in the just-released THE 400 Top World University Ranking 2011/12, none of the Malaysian universities made it into the placings.

A total of 60 Asian Universities made it into the THE 400 Top World University Ranking, with 16 from Japan, 10 from China, eight from Taiwan, seven from South Korea, six from Hong Kong, two from Singapore, and one each from India and Thailand.

Of special interest is the inclusion of Mahidol University, which made the local headlines during the inquest into the mysterious death of Teoh Beng Hock in August last year, when the MACC Legal Counsel Abdul Razak Musa made a spectacle of himself when he attacked the qualifications of renowned Thai forensic pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand as not recognised in Malaysia, earning her rebuttal that Mahidol is one of the world’s top ranked universities – which is again confirmed by the latest THE 400 Top World University Ranking.

The Higher Education Minister, Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin in his response said that Malaysian universities will be ready to be part of the Times Higher Education top 400 ranking in six to seven years from now.

He said the THE ranking is based 62.5 per cent on high impact research and citations, which is still a new area for local universities.

This is a most shocking admission. When the QS World University Rankings were announced in September, Khaled said this showed that Malaysian universities are competitive – as reflected by seven Malaysian universities ranked in the top 600 bracket out of more than 30,000 universities globally which participated in the exercise.

But he has a different excuse for the adverse THE rankings.

We should not be too obsessed with the different university rankings but we cannot apply double standards claiming them to be relevant and important when our universities are ranked while dismissing the rankings as irrelevant and unimportant when our universities are excluded.

We must accept that the annual university rankings by reputable organisations or institutions provide an useful assessment of the international ranking and competitiveness of our universities.

What Malaysians want to know is why the country’s leading universities, in particular the premier university, the University of Malaya and USM, which was acclaimed at the apex university, could not hold their ground with other universities in the Asian-Pacific region as they had started with comparative rankings.

For instance, in the fifties and sixties, University of Malaya was on par with other universities in the region – like the National University of Singapore, the University of Hong Kong and regarded as superior to most universities in Australia.

Today, in the THE 400 World University Ranking 2011-12, the University of Hong Kong is ranked No. 34, University of Melbourne 37, Australian National University 38, National University of Singapore 40, University of Sydney No. 58, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology 62, University of Queensland 74,Monash University 117, Chinese University of Hong Kong 151, Nanyang Tecnological University 169, University of Auckland 173, University of New South Wales 173, University of Western Australia 189, City University of Hong Kong 193, etc.

Australia itself has got 21 universites in the THE list.

Fifty years ago, Malaysians would regard the University of Malaya as at par or even superior to the hundreds of universities listed in the THE Top 400 World University Ranking – and reading such a list should be a sombre reminder as to how low our premier university have fallen in the international ranking of universities.

Why did it happen? Are we prepared to learn from its mistakes? And if we are not prepared to make our universities great institutions, what is the national transformation that we are talking about?

Speech (2) in Parliament on the 2012 Budget on Monday 17th October 2011

  1. #1 by monsterball on Monday, 17 October 2011 - 5:38 pm

    Malaysian Universities climbed up in ranks… being recognized and respected…spell doomsday for UMNO b Govt.
    Stay at the bottom like our football team….best for them….got little hope.

  2. #2 by Godfather on Monday, 17 October 2011 - 5:49 pm

    I am surprised they haven’t blamed it on the Jews.

  3. #3 by boh-liao on Monday, 17 October 2011 - 5:57 pm

    A World Bank publication has found dat standards at UM hv fallen n d institution has been kept at a disadvantage because of race-based admission quotas n political interference in university management

  4. #4 by tak tahan on Monday, 17 October 2011 - 10:21 pm

    /I am surprised they haven’t blamed it on the Jews./

    They will blame it on mata sepets and kaki botols.The reason will be mata sepets n kaki botols are so smart so inevitably quota,NEP and whatnot has to be implemented from those past donkey years to help certain poor race to excel lor.That’s why the results of our university standard ended up so low mah.Celaka cina kui n keling!Wakakaka

  5. #5 by boh-liao on Tuesday, 18 October 2011 - 9:21 am

    D HiEd Mi’ter, like his boss, no otak lor, flip flops n simply tembak in his replies 1

  6. #6 by dagen on Tuesday, 18 October 2011 - 1:46 pm

    Godfather you are spot on man.

  7. #7 by Not spoon fed on Wednesday, 19 October 2011 - 9:06 am

    We certainly need reformation and revamp in every aspects and remove BN especially UMNO.

    Many people in rural areas do not know how corrupted and how inefficient of the present Barisan Nasional with so much resources wasted plus RM888 billion have been taken out from Malaysian since Mahathir’s time, started in year 2000 as reported by Global Finance Integrity : http://iff-update.gfip.org/

    Remember, Malaysia is world number 5 illicit outflow of money? We see MCA president also corrupted, how many still unreported and hiding while Sarawak’s Taib is still enjoying life like a king.

    Most of the people in Sarawak rural areas are still without electricity! This is very contrary to the Sri Perdana (resident house of Malaysian Prime Minister). So, what is so good about Sri Perdana as explained by deputy prime minister as a good image for Malaysia?

    Pakatan should now print in A4 size the Orange Flyer (the one page flyer) to distribute to each house in rural area.

    Showing the property owned by Taib in rural areas of Sarawak and Sabah is a hard job. Should start ASAP to help the Pakatan there for this time consuming task.

    Almost everyone know how corrupted and inefficient with UMNO, MCA, MIC and Gerakan who could not reform Polis Malaysia, Judiciary Independence (remember the Mongolian mother case?), Anti Corruption Agency, public administration (includes universities admin), etc.

    Many people in rural area do not have computer and to see the truth.

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