Then, I also read in the New Straits Times that Universiti Putra Malaysia seeks to become a top 80 university in the world in 5 years' time. The newly Universiti Putra Malaysia Vice-Chancellor, Prof Dr Nik Mustapha Raja Abdullah, after the controversial resignation of the previous vice-chancellor, wants world ranking for the institution.
His dream is for UPM to be among the top 80 universities in the world and top 20 in Asia. Nik Mustapha said these were attainable using the institution’s eight-point plan that began in 2000 and ends in 2010.The new vice-chancellor went on to boast that "62 per cent of our 2,400 academic staff have doctoral degrees. Seventy-five per cent of our graduates gained employment upon completing their studies."
I'm really not sure if the above numbers are anything to be proud of. Maybe Kian Ming will have a better idea - as he's more of an academic than I am :-). However, if only 75% of UPM graduates "gained employment" upon completing their studies, that actually means that UPM is contributing some 3,000 graduates annually to the unemployment pool!
I would suggest that the new vice-chancellor set more realistic targets to be achieved within the next 5 years instead of one which is meant to please his political master. We have already seen how the vice-chancellor of Malaysia's premier university fall flat on his face in the rankings debacle at the end of last year, so we really do not need another "leading" university in the country to perform another stunt like that.
More interestingly, he announced in the Star that "I will continue with the policies of my predecessor Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Zohadie Bardaie." This however, begs quite a few questions. If the policies of the predecessor is worthy of continuation, why did the Minister of Higher Education, Datuk Dr Shafie Salleh choose to have him "removed"? In addition, would a continuation of the previous vice-chancellor's policies help UPM achieve a top 80 ranking in the world university's league?
UPM is celebrating it's 75th anniversary this year, and it appears that the vice-chancellor is taking a leaf of the book of his peer, Datuk Kapten Professor Dr Hashim Yaakob, who launched in a grand scale Universiti Malaya's centennial celebrations last year.
The new vice-chancellor plans to build a new clock tower, estimated to cost RM1mil, will be built on the campus, near the administrative building.
“We hope to have the ground breaking ceremony during the official launch... Tiles will be sold to the public. Students will pay RM75 for each tile to be placed on the clock tower while staff members and alumni will pay RM175 and corporate sponsors RM1,075.”I am brimming with confidence about the new leadership in UPM already.
Prof Dr Nik Mustapha Raja Abdullah's contract runs out at the end of 2008, a year or so before 2010. Maybe if UPM doesn't achieve the remarkable Top 80 rankings, the blame can be placed squarely on the next vice-chancellor.