Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Education in Australia: Declining Quality?

The bloggers here aren't experts on the quality of Australian education. However based on requests by some readers, I've written a little on it here and here.

I'm personally no big fan of Australia in general, mainly due to the excessive commercialisation aspects of Australian tertiary education. In addition, based on anecdotal evidence of the many Australian graduates whom I have received job applications from, as well as interviewed, the general entry requirements into many well-known Australian universities are set too low.

As reported in the Sun today, a study by demographer Bob Birrell of Monash University, “more than one-third of foreign students graduating from Australian universities, mainly Asians, have such poor English skills they should never have been admitted”.
Overall, 34% of the graduating foreign students offered permanent redisence visas last year did not have competent English... [Bob Birell] said he believed the study to be representative of all foreign students, partly because Asia was amajor source of fee-paying overseas students for Australian universities. “It does raise questions about university standards.
Apparently, while these students have sufficient grasp of the English language “to cope with most situations” i.e., for day to day use. However, it is rightly argued that English competency for academic studies should be set at a higher standard.
... people who have reached this standard (to cope with most situations) are still not capable of conducting a sophisticated discourse at the professional level.
Birrell even claimed that there was a “mountain of anecdotal material” that many overseas students struggled to meet their couse requirements and that universities coped by lowering the English demands of courses.

If indeed true, it is nonetheless, not surprising. Tertiary institutions in Australia are heavily reliant on international students for the latter provides at least 15% of funding, which leads to suggestions that academic standards are sacrificed in favour of financial rewards.

Professor Gerard Sutton, the president of the Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee, could only suggest that the result might be just due to a “deficiency in spoken language”, and not due to proficiency in reading, writing and listening. While possibly valid to a limited extent, I'm doubtful that the reason provided forms the substantive factor behind the large percentage of English sub-competence (is there such a word? ;)) highlighted by Birrell's study.

Does this mean that one should not attend Australian universities? No. But it does mean that students, particularly top students should be more discerning with regards to the universities which they choose to go in Australia, should it be the destination country. If in doubt, always pick the universities with the highest entry requirements.

184 comments:

Tiara said...

If in doubt, always pick the universities with the highest entry requirements.

NO. Pick the university that suits you best.

The problem with articles and research like these is that it assumes that all universities are the same, all courses are the same, all people are the same with the same goals. Universities, like people, are unique; as Denise Clark Pope, a Stanford lecturer who has done plenty of research on effects of school pressures on students, says many many times - "College should be a match, not a trophy."

Entry requirements tell you nothing important about a university. So what if they admit only the top 1% of students in the world? So what if they consistently rank high on (majorly arbitrary) lists?

Do they provide more than enough opportunities for you to expand your learning beyond what's in your books and papers?
Do they let you explore your interests?
Do they provide a support system that looks after your welfare, not just academically but in other ways as well?
Do they have a diverse student body that is mutually supportive and beneficial to your social life?
Do they provide inspiration and energy to propel you to your educational, career, and life goals?
Do they enhance your life in any way?

Students not being able to communicate in English isn't the fault of the university alone. In my uni, students need to maintain a certain IELTS score, or take remedial classes; they are also able to obtain certain concessions (extra time, a dictionary) to cope with English being a second (third, fourth, hundredth) language to them. A lot of times, they have very solid ideas and research, but can't express it well. The lecturers and tutors assess them on this individual basis and grade them according to their ability, and what they expect.

Also, native speakers don't always have the best language capability - I can't speak my native language beyond a kindergarden level, but can run circles around native English speakers on occasion. This is due to multitudes of factors, not just university.

Entry standards for Australia is quite different from many places in the world, as is expected; there really isn't a "standard" internationally so to speak. Even so, just because you are "Cream of the crop" doesn't mean you will always survive university. So many people go in thinking they're hotshots because they got straight As in school...and then crash and burn because they don't understand what university is about. Meanwhile, the folks that were looked down on in school for the Bs and Cs ace university, because they grasp the point of university - original thinking, not spoonfeeding and memorizing - and are able to flourish and function.

There are so many, many factors to choosing the best university for you. Higher standards of entry isn't a very reliable gauge.

(Also, research studies often get mangled in the press for news-worthiness and hype. Is there a way to get the original study, so that we can see what Birrell actually meant to say?)

DKR said...

I totally agree with Tiara's post above. However, I believe that a university education abroad gives a holistic educational experience that may not be otherwise available in Malaysia. I have a feeling that the prevailing mentality in Malaysia is that you have to be a graduate of a top university to command any sort of respect at all. However, I believe that the communication skills that are thought, as well as the communication skills that are aquired throughout the duration of the course abroad make the foreign graduate (mainly western), much better equipped to handle the demands of the working world.

Anonymous said...

Personal anecdotes but highly representative.

I personally know one person who was admitted in University of Melbourne (it's suppose to be the best) but couldn't speak English properly. His English is pretty much broken and his academic result from UEC wasn't that fantastic. The admission officers at UniMelb must have only Bling! Bling! on their mind.

I lost all respect for UniMelb Biz school after that encounter.

Anonymous said...

addmission to university doesnt require you to have a standard of english that puts her majesty the queen to shame. sometimes what is needed is just adequate english to express what you have learnt and know how to put it into context. i bet the english spoken by students from china or other east asian countries studying in american or uk unis cannot be perfect too. face it, if western unis start implementing unrealistic standards of english as a prerequisite, you'd see only whites and chinese bananas in unis.

and it seems that the blogger knows little bout the uni entrance scores in australia. many factors determine it, eg. location of uni, government intervention in terms of allocation of student numbers, etc. and individual unis have little control over these external factors that in the end, lowers or raises the entrance score. its not just simply A-lvls AAA, AAB independently determined by the uni and such.

some comments were given by readers about how the entrance scores of australian unis come to be in previous articles in this same blog. i guess its a norm for a typical msian to only see what they want to see.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes, low entry requirements may be set so that they can get their funding as the amount of money a faculty receives depends on the number of students enrolled in that faculty. The question is, do those who don't deserve to graduate, graduate.

Back in the early 80's, Monash Engineering fails about 1/3 of its 1st year students. These guys are cheap wrt lab time, so many are taken in for the reason I stated. Many don't make it through second and third year as well. Another view would be that, well everyone is given a chance.

Also agree with Tiara in that there are many top scorer in Form 6 who don't fare well in uni.

Charis Quay said...

First of all, there is the question of what is meant by 'competent English'...surely this will be sorted out by the market? If these people can get jobs, then by definition their English is good enough?

Wrt the actual courses, just to play devil's advocate...

Probably at the undergraduate level command of English is more important, but doesn't that really depend on how many 'general education' requirements there are and what the university's general philosophy of education is? If someone is only studying engineering, does it matter that they don't sound like the BBC or can't write twenty page insightful, well-organised, well-argued papers comparing Beowulf and Moby Dick?

Anoymous above speculates correctly - it's a well-known and relatively widespread problem at many large American universities (even some of the top ones) that many foreign (post-)graduate teaching assistants don't speak English well. That doesn't prevent them from doing good work in their fields, though it might not make the undergraduates they teach very happy.

For myself, I'm just glad that we no longer have to learn German and Russian to be part of the scientific community. ;-) The prospect of that is awful enough that I'm not bothered by colleagues who don't have very good English.

Anonymous said...

Why bother to go to universities in Australia, when UM is the best???
UM is the premier university in Malaysia and in the world!

Anonymous said...

Tony,

Why pick on Australian universities when local Singapore universities are also producing graduates with lots of "problems" too. With so many interviews that you've conducted, I'm sure you've come across many graduates of NTU and NUS who are very much lacking in initiatives, lacking in analytical mindset and expected to be spoonfed all the time.

Mastering of English is only one aspect in one's education -- correct values and attitude are equally important.

For me, I find Australian university graduates are much more independent and refreshing in their approach in their work.

Ozzy Man

Anonymous said...

Hi Tony,
Wow…you sure opened a controversial subject. There are a lot of Australian graduates in Malaysia, and some of them are at the very top of their professions, so its not right to generalize.

I did both my Bachelor’s and Masters Degrees in Australia, at the University of Melbourne, then University of Sydney. I would say academic standards are solid and there is a strong research community. Academic staff are knowledgeable, competent but not the very best.

Australia, too, suffers from a form of brain drain, as their most talented people find they can only fulfill their true potential if they go overseas.. There are a number of historical figures who are world-famous, but you would never realize they were Australians because they made their success in Britain or US.

There is sort of a two-tier University system there. The Older, established universities tend to attract the better students, and also have a stronger research establishment.
Most of the new Universities were upgraded or amalgamated from previous Colleges of Advanced Education. They are OK academically but not considered top-notch. On the positive side, the newer establishments have been more innovative with course offerings and also more interesting course structure.

On the subject of entry requirements. Australia has for generations pursued a policy of widely available Higher Education. That basically means any citizen with reasonable school results who wants to pursue a university degree can do so, though he may have to settle for one of the 2nd-tier institutions. Each state has one or two universities which are considered “Premier” and competition for entry is stiffer.

I really dislike the way they have commercialized the recruitment of overseas students. In their quest for privatized funds, they probably do take in some students who shouldn’t be doing the course. But in general, academic standards are still quite good.

ou said...

The lowering of standard particularly on language requirement is common in almost all Universities where their funding/courses are "commercialised" for profit.

I ask a Chinese national why she choose a particularly university she is studying and her reply was "because it's easier to get admission to this university without the competency of the english language. Needless to say, her dissertation for an MA was full of grammar and linguistic errors that she needed a helper to polish her write-up.

She reasoned that although her english does not match what is expected of her from an english university her prospect will be judged by potential employers in her own country in Mandarin not English.

Of course, for a Chinese employer who may not be conversant in English, her graduating from an english university is all impressive. As far as the english university is concerned, she is competent in the subject of her choosed MA. Communication skill in English, sadly is not included in the assessment of the MA!

Note: I have intentionally omitted the name of the university.

Anonymous said...

Tony, your words " I'm personally no big fan of Australia" caught me.

Most of our parents only afford to send us to Australia, as it is cheaper compared to US and UK but it is relativley much better than our local tertiary education

You should not despise Australian educations although you gratuated from UK.

Pity you , you still have the "Queen superiority " mindset. Go back to England, go back where they taugh you about bigotry

Tony P said...

err... "not a big fan" means I "despise" Australian education and "Queen superiority" and I should go back to where I was "taught bigotry"...

I won't bother defending myself here... but I'd only request readers read the various articles carefully. And if you still arrive at the same conclusion, then go ahead and hentam-lah ;)

Oh, and Tiara, I'll qualify my statement you quoted:

Generally if in doubt, and if your concern is with academic quality, always pick the universities with the highest entry requirements. ;)

;) Tony

Anonymous said...

its obvious this blog is skewed in favor of american and uk unis, considering the fact that kian meng and tony pua are both graduates of the two uniteds. american and uk unis both have their own sets of problems which are featured in the foreign media and education articles. but they never seem to appear in this blog for the all-so-malaysian habit of self censorship.

its as if american and uk unis are PERFECT and WITHOUT flaw in the admission process. its somehow ironic, that, if it is a fact that american and uk unis are with problems of its own, tony and kian meng, both graduates of these institutions who should be more familiar to unis in those regions, had not produced even one post commenting on the “mountain of anecdotal material” that may imply that the admission standards in uk and us unis are dropping and international students contribute a sizable proportion of their funding. however, despite the unfamilarity of both bloggers towards australian education, they have come out with numerous posts with none of them in the positive.

Anonymous said...

"more than one-third of foreign students graduating from Australian universities, mainly Asians, have such poor English skills they should never have been admitted”....

Regarding this statement, I personally think that it depends a lot on the students' "lifestyles". For example, say, you come from a Chinese-ed background with decent writing English skills - if you go to an overseas uni, attend classes & make an average of 2 presentations a year in English, BUT speak Mandarin/Chinese dialects almost all the time because all your friends/housemates are your hometown friends, tell me, how are you going to improve your verbal English skills?? I've seen too many examples of graduates coming back without much improvement in their spoken English because of this reason. It can be UK, Australia, New Zealand...although IMHO, less so in US because there's not a big Msian community in most US cities except probably in California.

When it comes to standards: Tony/KM, it'd be interesting to evaluate how Australian universities handle repeaters/2nd chance exams to "help" (or to lower the standards??) students to pass (I've heard many cases in recent years), plagiarism and such.

Kian Ming said...

I think if a similar study is conducted among foreign nationals in universities in Canada, the UK, the US and NZ, you'd find many Asian students with similar problems in terms of English competency. I don't think this problem is only restricted to Australian universities. Of course, the pressure to collect more school fees from foreigners is one of the reasons. But there's also another reason which has not been mentioned - many Chinese students study VERY HARD for their TOEFL, SATS and GRES to the point of memorizing many English words and phrases and even entire passages (in fact trying to 'game' the system) to get a good TOEFL, SAT or GRE score. Hence, many institutions, even those which set relatively high entry requirements, cannot prevent these kinds of students from slipping through.

In any case, one's own standard of English is not affected by the lack of English profiency on the part of other foreign students. One should probably only worry about the impact this would make on a university's reputation in the future, which, in my opinion, is likely to be minimal.

P.S. I have nothing against Australian universities. My wife was a graduate of the University of Sydney and I have high regard for Australian unis such as ANU.

Anonymous said...

A Singapore perspective.

Many Singaporeans from Poly's or Junior Colleges who couldn't make it into their own Singapore uni move on to Australian uni. That says a lot about the quality of Australian uni graduate in general (at least in Singapore)

Tiara said...

Generally if in doubt, and if your concern is with academic quality, always pick the universities with the highest entry requirements. ;)

Again, no. Who's to say that just because their entry requirements are "high" (and what does "high" mean, really?) they'll give you a quality educational experience that greatly enhances your learning?

There's plenty of controversy over how Harvard, despite its reputation for being "best of the best", is slacking off with educational quality and isn't really worth all the hype. Just because they want "high standards" of students doesn't mean they'll do anything to maintain it.

And it still doesn't address the issue of students who come in with so-called high standards but end up burning badly in university because they can't cope with the different styles and mentalities. Getting straight As in school doesn't mean you'll ace university.

One of the best educational experiences I've had was with a non-profit global educational program who didn't care about academic standards. You could get straight Ds and it wouldn't matter - they did ask, but it wasn't their deciding factor. What they did look out for, though, was your personality and character: could you handle stress and change? Are you flexible and adaptable? Do you have quality leadership material? Are you willing to learn? Many of the other students who came with me all had amazing characters, amazing visions and ambitions and drive - but no one asked about grades. The experience I got was head over heels better than my university experiences, hands down.

Like some of the commentators here said, it's not uniquely an Australian problem. Heck, it might not be a *problem* if we really look at it - perhaps they just function better in whatever native language they have. Do they only have worth if they speak English? We only have a few lines from that study, filtered through a news report; what does that study even say?

Anonymous said...

tiara, i have to agree with tony though.

your kinda thinking is more suited if you plan to start your own business/get settled in a low-paying job in M'sia since all the top paying jobs mostly go to the graduates of top institutions.

the problem with the real corporate world is that sometimes you don't really count on what you've learnt in uni but who you know. And those who are the ones you need to know are normally in such pretigious institutions.

Anonymous said...

Harvard, Oxbridge etc have their issue with education quality.
however, how many would view a Ivey Grad less elite dispite the decline in education quality? How many company will pay peanuts to hire a Harvard grad? How many Harvard/oxbridge grads failed in the working world vs those Grad from Avg Universities?

It will be great if we get our hands on the full report and mention which University in Australia is giving International student the slipped! The majority of the returned survey might not come from any University in the GO8.

so we see unversity like oxbridge/harvard/MIT/LSE/UBC giving Singapore Diploma holders generous 2 yrs of exemptions like what happened in many top Australia Uni like Uni of Melbourne or ANU?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Tiara. It is the right match that counts. However, like everything you read in the press, especially about the "quality of education" at university "X" (like Harvard) is not what you think.
So no, most school maintain "the quality of education" base on their own philosophy. Harvard has her own -- you won't get the kind of hand-holding like you get in other school, it is cut-throat in every aspect of undergraduate life and so on ... that is why we need to find a MATCH.
From my experience, most elite university (in US, UK and elsewhere), work harder that commercial-oriented university to improve the quality of education. So Tony is right at some level .... when in doubt, you can't go too wrong with MIT or Cambridge vs. Commercial Uni A.

Anonymous said...

Tiara, note that Tony mentioned academic quality, not whatever is it you are trying to convey (and failing to do so).

High academic quality translates to success in the academic world and in academia (judging from the comments here, most Malaysians, and most probably Tiara herself, are unfamiliar with). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academia.

It is usually the top universities who have access to facilities (library resources, scientific equipment), to generous research grants, to a strong tradition of research, to a wide network of contacts in the academic world.

Also, top universities are the places with the most opportunities. Students have access to huge sources of funds for all types creative projects. That's why students go to top universities, you know - to get those opportunities, whether in the corporate world, in academia, in global non-profit organizations.

And the number of students that actually burn out from the very top universities are insignificant - same in any university, I guess.

Anonymous said...

I concur with tri pooh: Top universities are far better than some commercially-oriented university.

Anonymous said...

Tiara, note that Tony mentioned academic quality, not whatever is it you are trying to convey (and failing to do so).

High academic quality translates to success in the academic world and in academia (judging from the comments here, most Malaysians, and most probably Tiara herself, are unfamiliar with). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academia.

It is usually the top universities who have access to facilities (library resources, scientific equipment), to generous research grants, to a strong tradition of research, to a wide network of contacts in the academic world.

Also, top universities are the places with the most opportunities. Students have access to huge sources of funds for all types creative projects. That's why students go to top universities, you know - to get those opportunities, whether in the corporate world, in academia, in global non-profit organizations.

And the number of students that actually burn out from the very top universities are insignificant - same in any university, I guess.

Anonymous said...

I would venture a guess that Tony and KM have never visited an Australian university before. While I applaud both your attempts in trying to raise the par of Malaysian education, some recent articles that draw conclusions from single opinion pieces, like this are not really worth the paper (or file) it has been written on (in). What's going on?

We already know which of you graduated from Cambridge, Oxford, LSE etc., and what you both think of other universities that aren't in that list. Fair reporting? I don't know.... And it gets a little bit stale sometimes when your alma matta is mentioned too many times.

For the record I turned down a funded Cambridge place to do my postgraduate research some years back, because I thought they were shite in the technical area that I'm in. But I wouldn't conclude that Cambridge is shite...like you have on Australia due to a single opinion piece.

My 2 pence worth ;) Go on, kick me!

clarendonholder said...

My friend (a Malaysian) who graduated top in his class in Actuarial Science from Melbourne University got rejected for every single job applications in Singapore. That was just last year.

Having graduated with a BSc and now working on a MSc i was lucky enough to hold a job offer from a Singapore firm 10 months ahead of graduation. That is mainly because i went to LSE & now Oxford.

Tiara said...

I ask you all something:

What do you define as a top university?

Anonymous said...

People are assuming that you fly through job applications purely based on your academic (i.e. Bachelor's, etc) qualifications. That's hardly the case, as nearly all the applicants have similar levels of academic qualifications when they apply. It's not the deciding factor in any job interview.



That being said, I don't believe that universities should be a deciding factor in whether or not the education was top quality. We live in a highly competitive world, and nowadays, personal skills are the main attractors. Just as we develop skills outside school, so we do outside university, which means that our spoken skills are independent of our writing skills which are independent of our writing skills, and so on.

Anonymous said...

If there is such a criteria, a "top university" is generally defined by the people that made up the University. On top of the list people are the faculty and staff, then the current students, then (maybe) the alumni.

So most well-known university have well-known scholars who teaches there. Faculty are usually given higher weight because they are permanent. Students come and go ... and the quality may vary from year to year.

So Caltech, Berkeley, Harvard, Yale etc. are good to a large extend because they could attract the brightest mind to teach there.

Of course, a top university may not be the best university in terms of teaching, and certainly not going to be the best option for every person (you need to find your match, given your goals), nor do the university produce graduate that perform well in job X for company Y etc.

Anonymous said...

Are we comparing Fresh grad from X Uni to Fresh grad to Y Uni?

How many Fresh grad from a Avg Uni vs those from elite Uni developed their personal skills outside the university?

I am not saying that Oz are all bad. if you compare percentage wise, USA sure wins hands down.

Alvin Tan said...

top class universities = high quality research with large number of citings in well known journals and publications; coupled with good teaching curriculum; and low lecturer to student ratio. every other criteria is secondary.

Anonymous said...

"Quality" can be defined in many ways and depending on the definition or criteria you used, I think there's little point in comparing universities. All things being equal, I'd go for top universities from US or UK simply because employers would rather shortlist someone from these unis. That's the sad but welcome to the real world!

lalaland said...

Anyone ever watched the movie Singapore Dreaming?

Not trying to actively promote the movie here but the movie does touch on the issue of securing a job after graduation from university.Again, it's just a generalisation of the work market.

I see that the debate above seems to be heading towards the line of whether Australia has a top class university.
USA and UK do have top class universities in academic terms for a long while. Does the commercialization of the Australia tertiary education dilute the success of a few good universities in Australia? Or perhaps a few faculties in a particular university?

Let's not forget that there exist universities from UK, USA and Australia whose name most of us have never heard before.( not known does not equate to inferior , e.g. the LACs in USA ) We tend to make generalizations that seem appropriate until the moment we discuss the matter more deeply. e.g. All Australian Universities are inferior to UK and US universities. Won't this offend those with a clear mind who know that many factors co-exist to produce a graduate? Again, What is inferior? Should it conform to your own definition or the dictionary's or the majority? Then, what is majority?

The arguments that each and everyone of you have given contain numerous nuances that just seem to not end.


I agree with Tiara that the experiences that one can derive while in University can change one's worldview significantly. On the other hand, I noticed that the others are focusing more on the academic side which can influence their knowledge and doings in the future. Should one whose interest lie in the arts do a world class scientific research just because he or she is in a top class research university? And because this would add to her CV impressively? Yes? No? Keep your own decision to yourself because each and everyone of use have our own views. That's what makes the world so interesting and boring.

lalaland said...

us instead of use. 2nd last sentence.


Wait a minute, please do not agree with what I have said. Nobody would then be posting their comments here to concur or challenge the writer's point of view. Then again, if all of you disagree with me, this debate would continue well towards 2020. Practice moderation.

DKR said...

As people have said before, 'quality' can be defined in many ways. Firstly, not everyone who goes to an 'ivy league school' gets the best jobs and is paid the highest sums of money. And secondly, it's not always about getting the biggest sum of money for the education you recieve. Why do most people automatically equate higher salaries with top schools. I personally think those equations are highly biased. I have numerous friends who have worked hard to recieve degrees from many a local university and are currently working for big multi-national firms earning top dollars. At the end of the day, it boils down to communication skills and the ability to express oneself well, something which I believe is given a much greater emphasis by foreign ('western') universities. Having said that, the original premise of the article was to discuss the commercialization of the Australian universities and the declining standard of education. I still believe the Australian system, as commercial as it may be, still provides an excellent opportunity for students to learn communication skills and lateral thinking, and provides excellent graduates that are articulate and are able to express themselves well. And I'm not even an Australian graduate!!

Disappointed Reader said...

As I see it, the commenters on this blog can be divided into two categories: The first, people who equate top universities with high salaries and good job opportunities (most of the Anonymouses). And the second, people who equate top universities as places where they grow and achieve 'self-betterment' and 'character growth' (DKR, Tiara)

Both types of commentators are, IMHO, incredibly SELF-CENTERED.

Hello? Universities were formed in the Middle Ages as places where academic scholarship is developed, and knowledge is gathered, processed and used in ways to increase humankind's knowledge,

Idealistically, the purpose of studying in universities is NOT for the betterment of oneself (although it's a great side effect), but for the betterment of humankind.

And certainly, the purpose of universities wasn't to produce rich graduates.

To quote Alvin Ang, whose makes the most logical comment, "top class universities = high quality research with large number of citings in well known journals and publications; coupled with good teaching curriculum; and low lecturer to student ratio. every other criteria is secondary."

Academic scholarship over anything else.

Anonymous said...

We raised 2 kids, going on 17 and 14 now. In Malaysia, they were top students in their years with excellent extra-curricular and sports activities. One was a state and national champions in various activities and both represented Malaysia in chess in their respective age groups. 3 years ago, they moved overseas.

Now, I do not care what they do in uni or which uni they will go to. It may be easy for me to say this with the confidence that they will get into decent uni and decent courses, but I am convinced, from direct personal experience and not from conjecture or speculation, that it does not matter even if they do not go to uni.

There's too much debate about unis, too much obsession with chasing that particular piece of paper to be able to see that life's success over a 30-50 years-long career has little to do with uni but all to do with primary and secondary education and upbringing rooted in the ideas of unremitting diligence (but not results, which are largely beyond a student's control) and compassion.

If one looks at uni education as a part of growing up, well and good, but if one attempts to put any more expectation into it, one can only be disappointed in the long run.

Compared to the growing up years in primary and secondary schools, uni education is the metaphorical cream at the top of the education pie. Like all cream, it looks nice and taste nice in small doses, but is soft and gets blown away all too easily; it is only a transient advantage.

Any parent truly concerned about their children's long term prospects in any society must have no choice but to focus on the right learning and values for the kids from young, and not to ignore those years and think that their duties are discharged by betting all, money and property, on a last throw of the dice on the home straight (univ) of their kids' education journey.

Anonymous said...

Our lives are a series of stepping stones, and university degree is just another step on the ladder for some. It is true that we should seek the university that best matches our fit (e.g. if we do not have the money, we ought to look for a cost-effective education program), but this does not bely the fact that in a competitive world, many intangibles operate, like reputation of alma matter. Some even go to extremes, e.g. some companies in the UK only hire Oxbridge graduates, many investment banks hire from Oxbridge, Imperial and LSE (similarly, if you seek academic jobs, working with a big professor will open many more doors than working with a young untenured juvenile).

Why? My guess is that there is a higher probability to striking a good-fit person able to perform the job requirements. Being in a top university (in terms of high entry requirements) means that the graduate has a track record of doing well academically, which means the graduate has a sufficient level of intelligence, diligence and both.

Of course, just as there is no one true 'religion' to spirituality, there is no reason why having a degree from a 'top' university would result in high salaries (hey, look at me, almost 10 years in a 'top' university and end up in research, which is the wrong end of making money!). But for the average people, if you can make it to a top university, then do it, because the reality in the career life is that many employer will use past performance as a prediction to future performance (Tony seems to be one of them - he may be prejudiced, but so will you be when you are an employer). Reputation does count. Also, there will be many more peers with similar passion who will make university life so much more enjoyable (unless kiasuism dominates).

If you are keen on making money fast, then either go to a top university and choose your career carefully, or follow Bill Gates' footsteps. Or be a plumber or a hairdresser in a Western country.

Apologies for long post.
~

Charis Quay said...

I'll just say one obvious thing about quality which nobody seems to have mentioned yet, which is that good teaching and good research are not the same thing; in fact, there is usually a negative correlation. It is very difficult for a university to be good at both research and teaching but it is of course always possible to be bad at both.

Charis Quay said...

Re. the history and function of universities, have a look at this speech by Rowan Williams.

http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/sermons_speeches/061013.htm

Anonymous said...

Tony Pua - a naive self-boasting bogus CEO of a failing little 3rd board company 'CyberVillage' claimed he knows all about education. Ha.. it's a shame that UK university accepted such a low calibre kid like Tony. It shows UK education standards. All he knows is academic result , because he thinks he has the straight 'A's. Tony is a good example showing why straight 'A's student failed in life. Come on.. look forward, stop parading your Oxbridge paper. It's shame to have an alumni like you, Tony.

Anonymous said...

dear anonymous...

Why hide behind an anonymous name and attack on Tony personally?

Cyber Village may not be listed in the Singapore main board, but at least it managed to get listed in SGX. Which other company in Malaysia manage to do that?

And Tony only have 3 A's, yet he managed to get a scholarship to Oxford, how many can do that? (BTW, many in RJC achieved 7 or 8 A's in their A-level). I'm sure Tony is also a shrewd business man, if not, how to survive the dot-com bust? That itself speak volume of his intellect and great example of Oxbridge alumni.

Tony's friend

lalaland said...

wow, Tony is getting some flak.

From the topic of Australia to Oxford, boy has this topic strech far enough.True though, if you want to point out others' failings you might as well just reveal yourself.(looking at my own nickname now,oops)

To Charis Quay, I believe that your assertion can be made more plausible if you provide more facts. Who is to determine whether both research and teaching is good or bad? Students? Researchers? or university ranking surveyors? Must both be mutually exclusive of each other? can't one learn through research? Again, too many nuances.

Anonymous said...

From an unknown small town in Johor to a scholarship to study A-level in Singapore, then another scholarship to study in UK, and now earning more than RM22k per month (S$10k) in his own listed IT firm tells you that Tony is successful, and rightfully to comment on his opinion on Australian tertiary education.

He's my idol :)

lalaland said...

hmm, while I celebrate Tony's success, I do not fully agree that obtaining scholarships, getting high pay allow one to rightfully assume that he or she has the right to give an opinion that all should agree. Such success add weight to his words when commenting on an issue but would also backfire when others do not agree with what he had said. His success would then be his own weakness that others would attack.

Anonymous said...

when you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

If the offering is attractive enough or the job offers good prospects, I'm sure tony, you will get applications from graduates of MIT, Harvard or Oxford.

secondly, I'm sure many of the top universities in Japan, France, Germany, Korea also enroll students who cant speak proper Japanese, French, German or Korean. What is the purpose of these students, to learn the language or to widen their horizon?

Do you think the bologna process in the european will be hindered by the language requirements of the students?

Ahpiau academic said...

This post is getting interesting......

Tony and KM, better brace yourselves for more bashing....

Crikey said...

For an Oxford graduate, you sound pretty obnoxious and cocky!

So how is Oxford University rated in the world these days?

Based on the Academic Ranking of World Universities, Oxford dropped its ranking from from 8th to 10th....tsk ....tsk....Gee I wonder why???

And dun you dare quote me using the THES ranking!
The THES rankings I heard is just a British ploy to feel good about Oxford and Cambridge!

So quit making @#$@#$@%^$ generalised assumptions about Oz graduates!

shky said...

Tony Tony.....I am surprised that an intellect like you can make such a sweeping statement.

Likewise, I have interviewed many graduates from well known British universities and found them rather 'below par' in terms of maturity and ability to express themselves in English (which I certainly find it surprising given that they are supposedly educated in England).

Aiyo, surely an Asean Sch. like you should not make such a basic mistake as to equate all Australian grads as below par. In reality, university education is just a stepping stone and a first class honours paper does not guarantee a successful career. In my office, I have seen many Australian grads who excel in their work delivery. On the contrary, there are also many British Grads who were given 'does not meet expectation' in their performance appraisals.

Old Man said...

Tony, what are you trying to say? Education in Australia: Declining Quality? (Question Mark) And the gist of your argument:

Australian U accepts students with poor English.

So let me generalize: A native English speaking student English standard is generally better than a non-native English-speaking student.

Therefore, a non-native English-speaking student who is accepted into a native English-speaking environment will be exposed to better English.

If this is true, where is the decline in Australian Education?

The decline is in the relax acceptance of applicants with poor Englis, but not the decline of the standard of English as practice by the majority of native English speaking students, staffs, and academics that make-up the university machinery.

But for a non-native English speaking student who is able to improve and benefit from being exposed to a native English speaking environment and manages to cultivate a higher standard of English competency, does this mean that education quality in Australia is declining or the quality of education in Australia is too high standard for some students?

Marlett said...

Put it this way, the ones who are good are really good. The ones who are lousy are really lousy beyond measure. That is the case in Australia.

DKR said...

To dissappointed reader, I would like to say that as much a noble aim of improving mankind you believe universities to be, we clearly have progressed beyond the middle ages and universities in this day and age do not perform the same function as they did in those bygone times. Acedemic institutions of today, while they still play some role of the embetterment of the species, are more a place where people develop, learn communication skills and learn how to be adaptable human beings. They should also instill a passion for lifelong learning and the ability to be self sufficient in terms of education.

As for the attack on Tony P, there is no point vilifying someone who has given his point of view and started off a very interesting discussion. Why hide behind the cowardice of your anonymous nom de plumes. At least he has presented his points in a logical and clear manner and allowed people to view they're own ideas on the discussion. Please have some sense and discuss the issue at hand and not throw baseless accussations at someone who's got people thinking and debating important educational issues.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I don't believe that proficiency of english is paramount when determining admission of students. Language itself is just the means of communication. Unless of course this blog is constructed around this point. University is by itself an educational institution. Therefore, it should not turn away any academically brilliant student just because they can't speak or write grammatically perfect english.
Even in the US, I've seen students from China studying in Harvard or MIT that do not muster the same level of english proficiency as seen by many who blogged here. Therefore, does that qualify us a place in such prestigious university?
On the other hand, I truly believe that the more established universities in Australia are light-years ahead when compared with our own.

Anonymous said...

Is NUS better than La Trobe? I'm not sure about their standards.

Anonymous said...

The moral of the story...dont disturb the australian hornets'hive!!
Crikey! Or all the Australian 'yellow bananas' will bite you!

Goooodayyyy!

Anonymous said...

The moral of the story...dont disturb the australian hornets'hive!!
Crikey! Or all the Australian 'yellow bananas' will bite you!

Goooodayyyy!

Anonymous said...

Tony,

Cyber Village is already struggling to survive. I pity your shareholders - you have time for nonsense blogging but not spending more time solving Cyber Village cash flow problem.

Some insiders told me that two of your main E-Business Directors have left. Salaries especially for managers are only banked in on the 10th the following month. Your Genting brother/sister shareholders already exited from their investment.

You're not that successful, Cyber Village is listed only in Singapore SESDAQ, only those not in the know buys your share. And see how low it has gone now. It's a matter of time before Cyber Village tanks.

And you're not even an actual scholar. I'd jump off Singapore highest building if I get only 3 A's in my A-level. So many of your classmates got easily more than 6 or 7 A's. You're lucky that MTC granted you a scholarship, otherwise you'll be back in Batu Pahat tanam jagung.

I think your head has grown too big recently.

Australian Scholar

lalaland said...

To dear Anon who posted at 2/03/2007
02:57:00pm


Please respect yourself by stop posting such comments.You have just accused someone of posting a thread not because you do not agree with the points he mentioned but because you think that he is not well-off in his work or business. You have conveniently linked his posting to his personal success( or in your own words :lack of success)

So please, respect yourself as an Australian Scholar and give a convincing comment that can change the perspectives or assumptions others have made of Australian graduates. You have definitely not helped your fellow Australian graduates.

And yes , this is a personal attack on your scholarly attitude(or lack of it)

marlett said...

Yup, what a big loser. Australian scholar? Trully, the eudcation in Australia is declining.......

Anonymous said...

Sob Sob... my parents are making me choose between La Trobe and NUS, will any one give me some advice please? Most of my friends think I'm stupid to even think about this. They said the choice is obvious, that I should go Australia, the further the better. But is La Trobe good?

Old Man said...

sob sob, what are you planning to study at La Trobe or NUS?

Anonymous said...

Accountancy. Either Nilai Int College's Accountancy twinning programme with La Trobe or NUS Business School...

What should I choose? My friends said that it's better to go Australia. Can go Nilai then go La Trobe in Australia.

Anonymous said...

I read the original post with much interest and found that it concurred with a phenomenon that I have observed on visits to Australia. A good number of foreign students in Oz tend to keep to their own community / race / countrymen and therefore, it is not unusual to find that some of them do not speak nor communicate well in English.

Of course, this does not mean that a student who doesn't communicate well in English cannot do well in his studies. However, I find it extremely difficult to see how a person who can barely understand his/her lessons (in English) is able do well regardless of whether the person is in Oz or the UK/USA.

IMHO, a "good" university education must maintain a certain level of academic rigor. The best Universities tend to be able to employ the best brains (faculty members) and therefore the undergraduates/postgraduates students working with them are able to be exposed to the latest technologies, the most cutting edge thinking, some of them years ahead of time. This is, I think possibly the most valuable thing that I got from my University education.

Does it really matter whether it is from UK, US or Australia?

Unfortunately, when it comes to practical employment opportunities, it sometimes DOES matter. As a HR person, if all things being equal, and I am presented with candidates with SIMILAR EXPERIENCES AND RESULTS graduating from US, UK & Oz in front of me, I will definitely place importance on

(1)the University they graduated from (relative rankings and "snob" factor)

(2) whether it is a part-time/twinning/distance programme (priority being given to full-time residential, non-twinning courses) to assess the rigor and therefore standard of the degree obtained.

Of course, if it is a small company, HR persons may not care or mind. But if it is a premium employer, i.e. large MNC this differentiation is likely to be very obvious.

We can argue about best fit, entry requirement, academic scholarship et cetera. But at the end of the day, for the great majority, the 1st degree is the stepping stone to a graduates career. And to employers who can afford to pick and choose, naturally they will select people from ivy league universities over some obscure sounding one.

Anonymous said...

To previous anon, I think your views, as a HR person, are very useful in this discussion, my only wish is that there will be more postings from the HR so we can get a little idea about the mechanics of the recruiting process. There are many students who are not aware of the subtleties involved in opening the doors of opportunity in certain firms. Of course, once the doors are open, on-job performance is much more crucial for a successful career than where we study.

I think the weakness in Tony's blog, is his focus on this particular article by someone else. The concern is justifed, but the fear is a little dated. We are living in 2007, where government funding for higher institutions is gradually reduced in many parts of the world and where AirAsia is flying everywhere too. To survive as good institutions, universities have to become more business minded (e.g the introduction of tuition fees in the UK, hiring of CEO of Glaxo at Imperial College, the crazy number of foreign students at LSE and recruitment of academics based on how much funding he/she has/will obtain).

Further, although English is generally used for communication, it is not the native language of the big majority of the human population. Contrary to this 'superpower' or 'colonial' perception, there is absolutely no need for perfect English to perform many jobs efficiently including cross-border communication.

I would rather see them turn this concern into opportunities. Many universities delve very superficially on 'diversity' yet many do not take advantage of it. Why not encourage the students to excel in another language as part of the curriculum? In this way, both the locals and the foreign students will appreciate each other better, and it will also look good on the CV.

~

Old Man said...

Snob Snob,

Go to NUS for accountancy.

I do not see any advantage to go to La Trobe, except for staying in a different foreign culture.

Moreover, once you are in NUS, and decide to change your mind, you can hop to UNSW via Singapore to Australia to their accountacy program which is one notch higher ranked than the NUS accountacy program. (according to Pacific-Basin Finance Journal) if ranking is important to you.

Anonymous said...

Old Man,

Thanks. Under quite a bit of peer pressure because friends are all heading for La Trobe but both mum and dad thinks that NUS is better.

If I go to NUS, I think I'll stay put. Just read their website and entry requirement, seems like a serious university which is probably why my parents would rather I go there. Dad kept telling me that La Trobe is a waste of money because it doesn't give as much value as NUS (except like you said, an opportunity to stay in a foreign culture).

Old Man said...

To Anon HR person,

I fear that many of our local HR people only has the knowledge of so call "ivy league" Universities and may dismiss top notch programs in obscure sounding institute of higher learning because of streotypical ignorance and lack of knowlege.

Old Man said...

Snob Snob,

Mom and Dad is right this time around and so are you.

Try to mix with people from other cultures and countries when you are at NUS and read beyond the field you are studying.

Your friends can still Skype you from Australia, while you have good time in Singapore.

a very concerned malaysian student in australia said...

International students are wondrous cash cows for Australian tertiary institutions. Unlike the States, funding does not come easily to universities in Australia. In a global environment where education is increasingly and heavily commoditised, the way forwards for these institutions is to wear the mantle of the capitalist.

I am a Malaysian student studying at (arguably) the top-ranked Australian university. Year after year, I have seen increasing numbers of fee-paying international students like myself pacing the hallowed grounds of ivy and sandstone. A significant proportion of these students can hardly tell a verb from a noun, and they shudder when asked to write standard academic essays for assessment. If Australian universities are allowing such students to buy their way into reputable institutions of education, it is truly a mystery that the university I am currently studying in is (arguably) amongst the top 50 in the world. This alone easily taints all that the university has stood for, and destroys its long history of high standards and academic integrity. No doubt, it is still very difficult to get into this university, as the Australian students will tell you, but some commentators already suspect that double standards are in place when it comes to admitting fee-paying international students.

Many Australians have come to generalise international students as a bunch of rich kids with low English competency. I am ashamed that my brethen has been labelled as such. I am even more shocked when I discovered that my Australian colleages initially believed I am from Sydney since I speak the language well.

Yes, it is indeed appalling to witness the evolution of the university from a bona fide centre of learning to a mere money-making cog in the service industry. The consequences are just as ghastly.

Anonymous said...

Melbourne?Indeed, tt is tough for an Australian ie home student to get into any of these schools, but for an international, Cs and a big fat bank account are the only things that you need to be guaranteed a place in certain courses at Melbourne.

Anonymous said...

First of all, snob snob, OBVIOUSLY go to NUS la. I live in Melbourne city and I don't even know where La Trobe University is, only know it is somewhere in the city... No need to think twice! No need to take into consideration what course you doing, or what your 'matching' (as Tiara or others have said) university would be. Just remember 3 words, GO TO NUS!

OK, back to the topic.

I think English Language, while important and essential in life, is grossly overrated. Unless one aims to become a teacher or lecturer in language, otherwise, language is just a tool used in learning knowledge and communicating your ideas. Like all tools, as long as the level of proficiency in English is sufficient for the intended purpose stated above, then there is no reason to strive for greater proficiency unless one have got genuine interest in learning more about the language. An analogy to saying that we must be 100% well versed in English would be to diamond coat a hammer which is going to be used to put an ordinary nail into a piece of wood. While it makes the hammer stronger, it is absolutely not required to do its job. If you can understand people, and people can understand you, then it is OK.

Perhaps instead of looking at the negative side of studying in Australia, i.e., surrounded by tons of Malaysians, Singaporeans, Chinese (there are indeed many of them here) etc, whom English levels are undoubtedly not as high as the Queen herself, one can view learning in Australia as a form of experience, one that requires a student to mix around with people from all sorts of background and countries. Australia, Melbourne in particular is perhaps one of the more culturally diverse places in the world.

Well, as for the rude personal attacks for Tony, hey, the man has the right to be proud of the fact that he graduated from Oxford, considering that I was rejected by it! I am not sure if Tony always talks about its Oxford degree, but if he does, that’s not too good either. In my humble opinion, if one is really successful in one’s life, it would be the university he graduated from that would be ‘boasting’ that certain successful someone is the alumnus of their university. I mean, it would be weird if Tan Sri Francis Yeoh of YTL Corp. keeps bragging that he used to study in Victoria Institute rite? It may be a top secondary school, but given his success in business, it seems to me that it is the school that has something to gain by telling everybody that Francis Yeoh used to study there. Another example would be Ananda Krishnan. I never knew that this man graduated from my university, Melbourne University, until one day when I searched the university’s website under the heading ‘Prominent Alumni’. I think that Ananda probably did not write to the university and ask for his name to be placed there. Instead, the university feels proud of having him as an alumnus.

To conclude, while having attended a prestigious university is good, but if one really wants to measure success in terms of university education, then it is my view that real success may be defined as when one can stop deriving fame and glory from their prestigious universities, but the other way round.

Anonymous said...

Just to add something to my comment on 9.03 am above.

One example that substance is more important than the proficiency in a language would be the case of the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Mr. John So. He came from Hong Kong and I always cringe when I listen to him speak English, because his Honky accent is quite strong. But even so, he was named the World Mayor 2006. In the Melbourne Commonwealth Games 2006, when Australian leaders were giving their speeches, every time John So's name was mentioned, the crowd would cheer and clap for him. He is well loved by most Melbournians despite of his lacking in English proficiency when compared to other Australian leaders. As long as he can communicate well, better English would not help a lot. Just my opinion though.

Anonymous said...

Thanks anon at 9:03. Parents said that La Trobe is too easy to get in and Nilai entry requirements are also too relaxed. La Trobe's standard is a lot lower than NUS and also many other Australian Uni. Shall just keep in touch with my friends going to La Trobe via Nilai through MSN.

I've heard of Uni of Melbourne though, it's one the best Unis in Australia, so it's great that you are there!

Anonymous said...

72 comments on this blog? There sure is a lot of Aussie grads out there...

Anonymous said...

As HR Group Manager of an MNC, I have interviewed so many candidates from NTU and NUS.

While many of them have impressive academic results, many cannot express themselves properly. Some other who managed to get in do not show any proactive attitude. I sometimes think that there's serious problem in Singapore education - are they only producing robots?

I think you'll be better off in Australia than NUS. At least you'll be better exposed and have a more rounded eduction.

Old Man said...

HR Group Manager of an MNC,

That is why I suggested that Snob Snob should mix around with people from other cultures and read beyond the field she majors in.

Yes, there is something wrong with Singapore's education system and the SG goverment acknowledges the challenges and is correcting it.

Moreover, if you did not think that NTU & NUS student was worth your while, you would not have bothered inteviewing so many of them. Evidently, good grades was also a factor for you to shortlist them for interviews.

Snob Snob,

The practice of accountacy is strongly based on standardized practice and social norms.

You may want to study the history of accountancy practice how the practice has evloved over time to attain a meta-view of the field.

From there on (and borrowing tools from other fields), you can begin to understand the thought system(s) your field is premised upon and can begin to question it.

Thereupon, you can attend the many international confrences and guest lecture series (this includes accountacy and others), that is available to you at NUS.

At least in this way you won't be a passive recipient of what is spoon fed to you at your accountancy program, you will proactively be cognizant of the pedagogical motives your curriculum throws at you and hold accountable the accounting educators production and reproduction of knowledge inside NUS education system.

daffodils said...

I keep coming back to this blog for updates on all the comments given. This is really interesting. I actually am enlightened on all view points given. Of course I weigh and consider. Good that Tony’s comments sparked of such a long list of responses. Healthy debate, whether you “kick” him or uplift him. Everybody to his or her own views. Keep it going. It’s natural for people to tell of their alma mater if it gives them a feel good feeling. I feel proud to tell young people that I was from one of the best girls school in KL and that is the Bukit Bintang Girls Secondary School and then form six in Victoria Institution. I also felt good then that I did my first degree in University Malaya in the 70’s. Couldn’t afford then to study overseas. But its alright. Nothing to feel inferior. MU then was highly ranked.My four younger sibling all graduated fro Australian universities and three of them have highlu sucessful careers in the corporate world. Another one is a permanent resident staying in Melbourne. strongly rooted there.

Anonymous said...

my conclusion of this:

australia:- profit-minded education system that sacrifices academic quality for more international students and $$$

singapore:- lack of real-world education needed to have successful careers.

UK:- elitist system that favours the fortunate.

US:- simply too expensive to attend. only ivy's count, state U's are a waste of time and money.

all i can say is we should just stick to agriculture and farming. don't need a degree, constant income, pure hard work. literally bearing the fruits of your labour ;)

xero said...

snob snob:

A common misconception among Malaysian students is that every foreign uni is better than a local/Asian one.

Wrong.

I believe I'm right when I say that not all unis are the same just because they are in the same country.

In regards to your question, unfortunately, La Trobe is not better than UNSW. That's just neo-colonialism mindset coming in play here.

As a current Aussie uni student, I would suggest that as a general rule, if you wanna go to an Aussie uni, try going to the ones situated in urban areas. They are generally the ones that are harder to get into.

La Trobe is not one of those. Australia has a collection of rural unis to cater for its rural students, and if I'm not mistaken, La Trobe is one of them.

On the original topic, I must say that I agree with Tony. There is a disproportionate number of students, usually from China, who have atrocious English doing courses that have very high entry requirements for the local Aussie students. I've always wondered how they managed to get in with their command of English. True, one doesn't need to be good at English to be a good student, but I believe that many of them should not have meet the TOEFL minimum requirement of 6. Heck, if that's the case, I think that the TOEFL score should be upped to at least 7 to filter those students out. They're just giving other international students with a competent command of English a bad name. If those students are that weak in English, then they have no right to be at a Western educational institution. They should try for their Asian unis instead, some of which have tremendous technical abilities which surpasses many Western unis in that regard.

lalaland said...

er.. anon at 2/04/2007 08:12:00 PM

some public U's in the States are good.Michigan, UC system and others I have no idea of.

xero said...

In regards to my original post above, I meant to say that La Trobe is not better than NUS, not UNSW :P

Sorry for the typo.

Cheers!

xero said...

Furthermore, to clarify my original post, when I mentioned that foreign students with a weak command of English should instead try to gain acceptance to Asian unis, that is because they would then be studying in a medium or language which they would be adept in, eg: Mandarin, Korean, Russian etc.

Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all your comments. In fact, one of my friend who wanted to go to La Trobe is thinking twice now. She found La Trobe to be expensive and yet not very recognised as compared to NUS.

Xero, yes, a lot of my friends believe that La Trobe is better because it is in Australia, a Caucasian country. But I don't think that's sensible.

I checked up on La Trobe's location and yes, it is indeed rural as compared to most other Melbourne Uni! When I told my Singapore cousin about La Trobe, he said, he never heard of it before! But it seems so popular among my friends in M'sia! Baffling!

Anonymous said...

oops... forgot to state that I'm snob snob...:P

Anonymous said...

Generally, I believe that the university we attend does not make a difference. It is all a matter of what we do in the university, what did we learn proactively, the people we mix with, the extra effort put into extra curricular activities and many others. Why are we argueing about standards on universities based on merely some cases of graduates we encountered?

Standard of Australian education? Sorry to say I am a British graduate and therefore can't comment much on Australian. However, I have to admit that British education is not all that superior compared to Malaysia. My early years of undergraduate was completed in Malaysia. I wasn't the top student, merely considered above average. However, to my surprise, I was among the top students graduating with first class honours from UK. So judging by the academic standards of UK and Malaysia? I don't think it's much of a difference.

I'm currently comfortably employed with an MNC. But I do not feel that it's because I graduated from UK. Neither did I feel that my English improved because I studied in UK. It's all a matter of taking up extra responsibilities, putting the extra effort to learn and finding new ways to develop beyond university.

So to anyone out there that is worried because you're not from a prestigious university like Oxford or Duke, my advise is that you just develop yourself beyond life in university to find that extra skills. It's going to put you ahead of many top scholars.

NUS or La Trobe? No difference, the difference is in you!

Anonymous said...

I don't thin La Trobe is such a bad university. I got this from the web:

"La Trobe University is a multicampus university in Victoria, Australia. The main campus of La Trobe is located in the Melbourne suburb of Bundoora, two other major campuses are located in the Victorian city of Bendigo and NSW-Victorian border centre of Albury-Wodonga. The university has a number of other minor campuses at Mildura, Shepparton, Beechworth and Mount Buller as well as a campus in Melbourne's CBD. La Trobe also offers its courses offshore at international locations in places such as China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and France.

La Trobe is generally considered to be ranked amongst the top ten universities in Australia and was recently ranked in the top 100 universities in the world (Times Higher Education Supplement)[1] [2](THES). La Trobe offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses across five major faculties, covering all the main learning areas. La Trobe is considered to be particularly strong in the area of arts and humanities; this was reflected in the 2005 THES, where it was ranked amongst the top 25 institutions in the world in this catergory and third best in Australia. It also has a strong international reputation in biomedicine and science."

achong

Anonymous said...

I don't thin La Trobe is such a bad university. I got this from the web:

"La Trobe University is a multicampus university in Victoria, Australia. The main campus of La Trobe is located in the Melbourne suburb of Bundoora, two other major campuses are located in the Victorian city of Bendigo and NSW-Victorian border centre of Albury-Wodonga. The university has a number of other minor campuses at Mildura, Shepparton, Beechworth and Mount Buller as well as a campus in Melbourne's CBD. La Trobe also offers its courses offshore at international locations in places such as China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and France.

La Trobe is generally considered to be ranked amongst the top ten universities in Australia and was recently ranked in the top 100 universities in the world (Times Higher Education Supplement)[1] [2](THES). La Trobe offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses across five major faculties, covering all the main learning areas. La Trobe is considered to be particularly strong in the area of arts and humanities; this was reflected in the 2005 THES, where it was ranked amongst the top 25 institutions in the world in this catergory and third best in Australia. It also has a strong international reputation in biomedicine and science."

achong

Anonymous said...

Agree! Agree! Viva la Malaisie.

Honestly, Malaysian education system equips students with good foundations. What is lack is the impartation of critical thinking skills.

I'm amazed by how many persoanl attacks made on the blogger. Interesting, but not essentially an artful scholar debate. I would really hope to see some real evidence or factual dispute of our blogger's assertion.

Anonymous said...

When I told my Singapore cousin about La Trobe, he said, he never heard of it before! But it seems so popular among my friends in M'sia! Baffling!

What do you expect from Singaporean? To them, only NUS, NTU are the best.

Honestly, Australian graduates are solid -- lots of initiatives, and creative unlike local Singaporean grads waiting to be fed all the time.

The Mommy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Mommy said...

To Anonymous on 2/04/2007 08:12:00 PM

You said:

US:- simply too expensive to attend. only ivy's count, state U's are a waste of time and money.

I have to disagree on the "only ivies count and state Us are a waste of time" part. I believe a lot of Malaysians are confused about the Ivy league universities in the US. There are 8 universities forming the ivy league - Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harverd, Yale, Univ of Pennsylvania (not to be confused with Penn State Univ), and Yale.

There are plenty of other highly-ranked universities in the US, and some are even better ranked than the ivies. Consider places such as MIT, Caltech, Stanford and Carnegie Mellon. These universities even though are not part of the Ivy league are all prestigeous universities.

Additionally, there are also quite a few excellent public or state universities. Just to name a few: Univ of Michigan, UCLA, UC Berkeley (one of the very top university), UC Irvine, Purdue (very good engineering program), and Univ Minnesota. I would not equate these universities as a waste of time.

Anonymous said...

Dear Blog readers,
Don't believe in a bit what Tony Pua says. He is setting up this Blog and 'http://tonypua.blogspot.com'to pursue his selffish sinister personal goals. You can observe from all his comments in both Blogs having these common thread:
1) Boasting and showing off his Oxford qualification - while he was lucky to be in Oxford in the first place cos' he gets only 3 As.
2) Boasting about his success of being a CEO of a listed IT firm. The fact is his firm CyberVillage is a small fly money-losing firm with high possibility of going bankrupt soon. He is earning SGP10K a month (a mere middle manager Singaporean pay), boasting he is making big bucks financially while at the same time not paying a dime to shareholders or dedicating enough energy to revive the company.
3) Tony boasted he knows so-and-so and he is of the same upbringing, alumni or same 'batch' of these high flyers in order to boast his own values.

So his hidden goal is to sell himself and set himself up for something bigger financially. Guys, have your eyes openned with his sinister agenda. If you are in doubt with my comments. Do some research yourself. Ask yourself, what good has Tonby done to his country.

Kian Ming said...

Dear anonymous,

If you want to attack Tony, at least have the guts to post your own name instead of taking cheap shots in the dark. What you are doing is cowardly and gutless, not to mention not having anything to do with the issues which this blog is discussing.

xero said...

snob snob:

Seeing that you're on the verge of going off to uni soon, and going to an Aussie one is an option for you, here's a quick and rough guide of the perceived 'tiers' of the unis here, by local Aussies.

Unfortunately, I am based in NSW, so I don't know much about Victorian unis. Why don't you broaden your options abit more and consider unis in the vicinity of Sydney?

In Australia, there are what's called 'sandstone' unis. Basically unis with pretty old-fashioned architecture. They are the oldest unis in the country, and with the highest level of prestige. Whether prestige translates into 'good' uni, I am in no position to judge.

If they are your cuppa tea, then you should try for (in no particular order):

1. Sydney Uni
2. Melbourne Uni
3. University of Western Australia
4. University of Adelaide
5. University of Queensland

Then there are newer unis who have gained a fine rep locally as well as internationally. They are generally on par with those sandstone unis, some even beating them. The ones in this category are (again, in no particular order):

1. UNSW
2. Monash Uni (although Tony Pua seems to have reservations about this uni's quality these days)
3. ANU

I think it's safe to say that these 8 unis are in the top 'tier' of Aussie unis. They have the highest entry requirements, as well as best reputations. They are all also generally situated in the cities.

Then we have the unis after them. These are generally more specialised as well as newer unis. Many of them are technical-based or commerce-based institutions. They are also quite good institutions. Some of them include:

1. Curtin Uni of Technology
2. University of Technology Sydney
3. RMIT
4. Queensland University of Technology
5. Macquarie University
6. Murdoch University
7. University of Tasmania (a somewhat semi-sandstone uni, but has significantly lower entry requirements compared to the list above)

Rural unis generally have significantly lower entry requirements compared to city-based ones. Examples of ones which function are to cater to the rural or smaller town student populations include:

1. La Trobe University
2. Charles Stuart University
3. University of Newcastle
4. University of Wollongong
5. James Cook University
6. University of Southern Queensland

Hope that helps snob snob! :)

Anonymous said...

Xero:

Thanks for being so detailed! One of the best advice I got! Really appreciate your enlightening. :)

Anonymous said...

Dear KM,
The cowardly attack on TP could be politically motivated or directed...maybe some keris wielding politicians have some sort of agenda to annhilate or discredit TP

alice said...

Tony,

There are many more people who are very supportive of you than you know.

Don't you bother about those injurious attacker who post abusive malicious comments.. as their own failures and incompetency made them very jealous toward those who are successful and brilliant.

Just ignore them.

Anonymous said...

yup, plain jealousy in my eyes these buggers. however, i think tony should also not blindly generalise others. many just don't have the opportunity (money and brains) to study at prestigious schools. so they have no choice but to take 2nd best. and as an employer to make pre-assumptions and down-right reject potential candidates before interviewing them certainly hurts their self-esteem. and we see the fall-out of this now.

just my 2c.

Anonymous said...

I think most who have left negative comments did not do it with malicious intention.

However when Tony admit in public for having such a bias towards Australian graduates have demondstrated his arrogance and ignorance. Not ones but repeatively.

I am sure out of the 10,000 Malaysians who went to Australia for their education every year, some/many would have came back and have been successful in their life. Perhaps more successful than many of the OxBridge graduates. (Oxbridge have produced highly paid employees, have they produced any inspiring political/business leaders?)

Just because Tony has never came across more of the better ones doesnt mean there are none (or there are less better ones). Could it be, the better Australian graduates did not apply to CyberVillage for some other reasons? (such as the better ones have been absorbed by tier 1 listed firm?)

xero said...

snob snob: Hey, no sweat man! You can give me your e-mail address if you need more information about the unis here :) I've been here for close to 3 years now, so I have a pretty good knowledge about how things are here, minus all the misleading hype.

Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations!

100 comments, really record breaking.

I've really admired Tony all this while, until this blog.

Blanket sweeping statement in this blog is a big disappointment as it comes from a person with Tony's stature. Perhaps Tony need to look at the mirror sometimes, and realize that he's also a human.

Tiara said...

Harvard gets mentioned here often as a "top university".

You all might want to read this:
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1226150,00.html

Do they really think there are only 10 great colleges in the country? There are scores of them, hundreds even, honors colleges embedded inside public universities that offer an Ivy education at state-school prices; small liberal-arts colleges that exalt the undergraduate experience in a way that the big schools can't rival. And if they hope to go on to grad school? Getting good grades at a small school looks better than floundering at a famous one. Think they need to be able to tap into the old-boy network to get a job? Chances are, the kid is going to be doing a job that doesn't even exist now, so connections won't do much good. The rules have changed. The world has changed. You have a sign over your office door: COLLEGE IS A MATCH TO BE MADE, NOT A PRIZE TO BE WON.

It's about the race for top universities in general, not just Harvard; but with the discussion we had, it's worth reading.

Anonymous said...

Political and business leaders from Oxbridge? Truckloads of them.....

Billionaire said...

The student's Academical quality if very much dependend on the the entry requirement of university. This is an unarguable fact because the examination standard will rely on the standard deviation of results. Courses in universities such as, accounting, engineering and etc are usually the similar but the quality of student will determine its standard (exp:U might be the number1 in your class but u could be the last if u compared to other class.)Non-G08 universities usually hav lower entry requirement and of course they offer MORE places to make them able to attract lots of international student who are their important source of income (they received relatively less subsidies from oz goverment). However, there r few GO8 universities admitted international students with relatively lower entry requirement recent yrs like Uni of queensland, Monash uni and uni of adelaide. I will recommend UNSW and UWA for engineering but Law, commerce n econs at Uni of melb, uni of sydnet or ANU and medicine at UWA, Uni of melb and Uni of sydney.

English proficientcy that we expect from a graduate should be good enough to comunicate. however, it's still depend on the working environment in future, e.g if u work in australia, US or UK, obviously u will hav the advantage to literate better english. However, english become less important(it's still an advantage to know any languages) if u settled in china or HK. So, english requirement is reasonable if just to meet the necessarily of courses. The problem for some univesities is they don't even require any english entrance level to students whoes first language is not english.

Tony, not all univesity in england are good. For me other than oxbridge and London Uni, the standard of top 10s uni in UK are only comparable with the GO8 uni in australia. Example, Uni of Nottingham is a reputable uni in UK, but for a malaysian, u can just easily enter to its malaysia campus and transfer to UK then graduated few yrs later. Same to Curtin uni, Swinburne, RMIT and Monash which set their campus or offshore programme in malaysia. HOwever, London Uni and oxbridge is too expensive for lots of people. How many non-bumi malaysian will hav a chance to study at there even they might qualified.

PS: I strongly believe one is not very successful as a student if he is not attending a good uni or scored good results but he could still successful in life even he attent an avg uni or with avg results. IQ and EQ are important to success in life. Tony has the IQ so he can graduated from top uni and become a CEO. I bet he will do better if his EQ is a bit higher(e.g dont make any statement to get mad frm big group of people like "Austalian Uni graduates") A successful business person need the combination of EQ and IQ. Business mean make money, there lots of richest man in m'sia are not graduate like you and me but they much more richer than u,Y ? its becos they combined their IQ and EQ when then make any decision or statement.

Anonymous said...

Good enough to communicate? One can't communicate effectively if one can't stop committing simple grammatical errors........

Anonymous said...

Yea... same problem exists within malaysian graduates from UK, US and of course local Universities. This is because their first language is not English... should a chinese who can't comunicate in mandarin admit he is a chinese? should a malaysian hold a malaysian passport if he can't speak Bahasa Malaysia with bahasa paku? If the answer is yes, whats wrong then if a graduate who can't speak english without errors says he learnt from his course in certain oversea university and he deserver the awarded degree? Furthermore, graduates from any countries which english is not the teaching medium should be turned down any chance to be regconised without considering the quality of courses?(Or anyone think quality of course is related with english proficientcy? so no english = no quality)
anyone answer me...

Sriram Krishnan said...

As far as I am concerned, it is up to the individual student to make the best out of the uni/environment. It doesn't matter if he or she is in Harvard, Yale, Oxford, NUS, UM, Melbourne, Sydney, Uni of Tokyo, IIT etc.

I have met social retards from Harvard, Uni of Melbourne and NUS. I have met fantastic chaps from these places as well.

I know friends from Ivy League universities who are extremely ignorant of world affairs and I know friends from say….Australian universities who are simply brilliant in world affairs.

I do not condone sweeping statements, like the one made by Tony above...but at the end of the day, do realise that ultimately the horse (a.k.a student) needs to drink the water.

Sally said...

Honestly, I think not admitting someone based solely on their English abilities, especially if English is their third, fourth language is a horrible form of discrimination. Especially for students from countries where English is not widely spoken and where they start learning the language in high school, it is quite unfair to expect them to be as proficient in the language as native speakers.

Some students, from countries like China, India, Malaysia, for example, in Western universities may not be as fluent in the English language but I think admissions should be based on a wholistic set of criteria. Academic records in the sciences, humanities, social sciences, as well as research and co-curricular activities should count heavily in deciding whether to admit an applicant. If a person is smart but cannot express herself eloquently in English, I think she should still be admitted. After all, if she's smart, she can be expected to pick up the language quite quickly.

I have a Biology professor who had "died cells" on his slides today. He did his PhD in China and despite being in the US for 10 years already, still makes grammatical mistakes as mentioned. Should he never have been hired at Duke? I don't think so. Clearly, he's brilliant and teaches well although it's sometimes hard to understand his accent. He has published numerous papers in Science, Nature and Cell, the three big one name scientific journals, and is a leading researcher in Ca++ transport in plants. If the American administrators at San Diego had not hired him as a post doc ten years ago, what a loss of talent it would have been! (Loss for the US at least)

So, my opinion is that not all fluent English speakers are smart just as not all who are not familiar with the language are less qualified. I know this the 100++th comment but I just HAD to say something. ;)

Anonymous said...

As a matter of fact, studying at a lower-ranked university has its advantage. When I mean lower-ranked, it is of course not the 3rd-tier unis or below. Generally, Top 10 universities in Australia would be good enough. Higher entry requirements = many top students = fierce competition. Instead of going to Uni of Melb, Uni of Sydney, UNSW which generally have higher entry requirements, why not consider ANU, Monash, Uni of Queensland, Uni of Adelaide, or UWA? Reputation wise, they are still in the GO8. I believe that if you are good enough, you will always stand out from the crowd no matter which uni you are studying.

Jimmy said...

agree... instead of going University of Nottingham, University of Leeds, University of Sheffield , University of Bradford, University of Birmingham and etc, I rather going GO8 uni in Australia. These UK universities sound nice but myself is doubt about their quality in certain courses. Study in Australia will also make you to meet more Asian (Malaysian)who could become "who you know" in future.

Anonymous said...

I read Law in England long time ago,worked in Malaysia (land of my birth)for a decade and then left for Australia where did the LLM at the University of Sydney. Standards in both places were pretty reasonable. For Malaysians, education in Australia has an additional advantage - portability - over Malaysian universities.

Australian admission requirements can be forgiving when it comes to English as we are a nation of 200 nationalities. About 25% of us were born overseas and as you all know first generation migrants (the children) may not be all that fluent. But (like the Chinese from PRC), they cope and go on to contribute very positively to our society. Naturally, living here and being forced to interact also helps one to acquire language skills. Add non-discrimination to that and Australia has great attraction for students. Further, an Australian eduction allows you to migrate to this great land. That is a potent attraction for the (PRC) Chinese. But they also benefit Australia with their business and social networks after they graduate and decide to live here. Will Malaysia be able to offer all that? I doubt it. So send your kids to Australia and share our great life. An ex-Malaysian from Kluang.

Anonymous said...

http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=75879

I'm sure some of you would've heard about this recent scandal. How're they going to teach us med without anatomy pracs? Can anyone suggest to me on what I can/should do about this? I'm a med student at UNSW....

Anonymous said...

Will you all give TP a break? There is a limit that he can take. Nanti you all bamboo dia, dia merajuk dan tak mau blogging lagi!!
He is a human too, and may err...
Poor TP!

Anonymous said...

Anon 2/07/2007 01:29:00 PM

What makes you think thta ANU is worse off than Uni of Sydney????!!!!

Stop talking as if Uni of Adelaide and ANU has being second to Uni of Sydney and Melb.

Jimmy: What makes you think of Sheffield, Nottingham, Leeds etc have doubt in their quality?

Who are you guys to comment on quality of these uni? Are you all familiar with education system in Austalia and UK?


Dr. Michael Odetayo

Anonymous said...

my fellow malaysians that are thinking of going to Singapore to work. Something what they feel..
http://forums.hardwarezone.com/showthread.php?t=1524475&page=4
-----------
To majority of Singaporeans:
Tier 1 UK = Oxbridge/LSE/Imperial/UCL (this deserves to be there, but not really known by most Singaporeans)
Tier 1 US = Harvard/Yale/Princeton (comparatively less renowned for postgrad because it concentrates on undergrads)/MIT/Stanford/Wharton in UPenn (thanks to SMU only) /rest of the Ivy League (but they don't know which universities are Ivy League ones)
Tier 2 = NUS/NTU/SMU
Tier 3 = everything they've never heard before

The same goes for postgrad as it is to undergrad in Singapore; people don't know any other university.

In the US, I would say that the top 25 universities in USNews are very well regarded (though obviously there is still an ivy bias) and in the UK, top 15-20.

-------
Just to clarify, I meant that the top 25 universities in USNews are very well regarded WITHIN the US, and likewise for the UK situation. I was NOT referring to the situation in Singapore, so don't take what I said to be referring to that. Just to state something - there is a very huge gulf in the quality of the schools in the US, ranging from the very best - Harvard - to the absolute rubbish type, bearing in mind that higher education in the US is pretty much free market. In the UK, there is a big gap too; but none so obvious. The figures you quoted of 1000+ vs 100+ schools doesn't mean anything in this sense.

The Shanghai Jiaotong and THES surveys are unfortunately biased towards research. US universities have potloads of money to throw into research. The UK universities, save for the top few, don't have that kind of funds and they tend to concentrate on undergrads. There is though, I agree, a paucity of top UK universities compared to the top US universities - a matter of relative percentage in terms of the number of schools.

Old Man said...

Old news made new by this blog:

http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200203/27/eng20020327_92910.shtml

the same Jimmy said...

Dr. Michael Odetayo

I have Friends who studied in University of Leeds or Bradford or the etc. They graduated in engineering with honours but they were art stream student during secondary school day :> Nottingham? at least I am Malaysian and I know the quality of its malaysian campus is not as good. ANYWAY, I still believe there are good and bad student in any institution. SOMEMORE, I was told UK Unis offer 3-yr for Bachelor(hons)Engineering and Law too but Australian Unis offer an at least 4-yr degree for those courses and honours award is still depend on performance, why ? I will happy if Dr. give me an answer

Anonymous said...

"In early 2001 a series of articles appeared in Australian newspapers detailing an entrenched culture of marks-for-money (or, for North American readers, grades-for-greed) in Australian academia. A choice example was provided by the University of Melbourne, in which a wealthy mature-age student offered his department millions of dollars of funding. He also offered several of his lecturers (professors) $250,000 each (about four times their annual salary) to take up positions in a new research institute of his own funding.

In a result that only serves to vindicate some of Carl Jung's theories on coincidence, the student quickly had his grades moved from Fail to Pass, and even higher. Some academics were worried about the proprieties. The head honcho of the university, the Vice-Chancellor, commissioned a report from one of his own employees, the Dean of the Law School. In a spirited display of impartiality, the Dean piously exonerated all of Melbourne's academics from the least taint of wrong-doing.

None of this, of course, was made public at the time, in 1998. It only surfaced in early 2001 in Federal Parliament, when the Shadow Minister for Education, Senator Kim Carr, revealed all: two years after the events took place. Oddly, the university's administration have declined to comment, and university professors have been forbidden to mention the matter on pain of instant dismissal."

Source: http://www.archsoc.com/kcas/stiffleDissent.html


Jimmy: I have friends with Art stream also doing engineering courses at Australia's so called top universities such as Melbourne and Adelaide. Your friends might have studied at Leeds or Bradford through twinning programme in Malaysia, e.g. spending few years of diploma or foundation and transfer to UK. My friends did the twinning to Adelaide Uni upon completing his diploma at INTI.

Yes, UK engineering is 3 years,so? Does it mean it is not as good as 4 years? IF that is the case, why don't we make degree that lasts for 5 years. Then they will be "great" degrees.

How do you know that Nottingham Uni's quality is not that good? Have you been there or is it through "friends who studied there" source again? I am sure Monash Malaysia's quality is wayyyy better than Monash in Australia, or Swinburne in Sarawak is as good as their australian counter part.

As for Honours degree, since they are classification, usually first class and second upper are good honours degree and the rest are not so good. So it is still based on performance.

How about this, how come Australian unis such as Uni of Sunshine Coast have such low entry requirements? I will be happy if you can give an answer to this.

Overall, British Uni should be better than Australian. After all, Australians were convicts that were sent from UK.

Anonymous said...

BRITISH UNIVERSITIES ARE THE BEST EXCEPT FOR BRADFORD, SALFORD
ALL THE OTHER UNIVERSITIES UPGRADED FROM POLY STATUS TO BECOME UNIVERSITIES ARE WORST

Anonymous said...

just out of curiosity is the monash malaysia degree in biotech identical to the same degree in australia?

In name perhaps yes. in the quality of paper used in the degrees perhaps yes..
but wat about the real academic substance?

Jimmy said...

Well, Wat to do if you want to compare Uni of sunshine coast with Uni of Nottingham... Thats what i want to express that the high rank university in Uk also have the "sign" of declining in quality as what Tony Pua commented on Australian Unis only.

About local Campus, who are the lecturer at those campus? Their qualitfication? Their achievement in that area? and the environment for them in post-doctoral learning?

HOW is the regconisation from professional bodies for 3-yr engineering course? Honours is still given to any student although they just scored pass in average mark, so what is the meaning of hounors here? In australia GO8 Unis, a 4-yr course doesnt mean a gurantee in honours award? and this stil depend on the results of thesis they are doing...

Two thing I want to put you down here, first, University of Melbourne never accepted any student from INTI for Engineering and LAw. Second, Uni of sunshine coast DO NOt offer ourses for engineering or Law. Pls do your study before any comment, since u r represent one of top 10 university in UK.

If U guys are comparing Oxford economics course with Uni of sunshine's... I agree oxford's is better. I do agree Oxbridge are one of leader in tertiary education and reseach but I never accept just the Austalia Unis have declined in standard.

Anonymous said...

Bradford is not upgraded from Poly.. it received its royal chartership in 1966...

Yes yes, everywhere standards decline... so what...

Anonymous said...

In conclusion I think we all agree that UITM is still the best! Better than the total British, Australian and American Universities put together!

It got the highest number of student enrolment!

Anonymous said...

Just my two cents. I think that people should stop bickering over which university / education reigns supreme. My view of university degrees are nothing more than a piece of paper to get through to the next stage of life, EMPLOYMENT(because every other person is a university graduate now). I do however acknowledge the fact that if you graduate from a "reputable" university, it will help smoothen the process of securing your first job. It must be stressed that your future successes will depend purely on your mindset and efforts to get ahead in life.

Sriram Krishnan said...

touche my friend, touche.

Anonymous said...

it's rather unfortunate that people are bickering about the quality of universities when the main focus should be on the quality of students.

Think Differrent said...

Interesting that someone in the earlier comments mentioned about salary of SGD10K per month. I thought it was US$ 10 grand per month, now that will be better.
I'm kind of embarassed that Tony is making such a narrow minded comment on other tertiary education outside of the UK or USA, given that we have been there. Has it something to do with a little ego being a self made entrepeneur and thus comdemning our peers down under? Shame on you.

jien sing said...

Tertiary education is important. And indeed, VERY IMPORTANT. Nonetheless, nothing is without its qualifications.

One must realize that, like an artist that is given a paper and some paint, he might churn out a Renoir (eg. "Luncheon of the Boating Party), or just a piece of paper with markings on it. Analogously, students can go to the same university (a paper and some paint), but achieve very different things in the end.

I should point out that, going to the best university in some sense, do help in boosting your own reputation, CV-wise. Tony is right, well, he is right in his own context, that is perfectly fine to me. From the comments however, people seem to be offended by his "just go to the best U" kinda view. I am not going to say that their comments are right or wrong, black or white... I would say that "it depends".

Now, don't accuse me of being an elitist when I encourage anyone who have the capacity to get into the very best schools, and don't accuse me of having the view that "it doesnt matter where you go coz it doesnt quite matter" either.

My view is simple: JUST STRIVE FOR THE BEST, WHERE EVER YOU GO, OR END UP IN...... and this applies to whatever you do in your life. Means should not be confused with ends.

"BEST" by all means is not just about getting best grades. This applies too to the word "BEST" in the context of university standings. Putting yourself ahead of others because you have gone to the better schools or have a higher GPA is simple-minded. So, is the fact that you arent necessarily inferior (however itz defined) to others just because you didn't go to a better school. Doing so would only violate the cardinal rule of life, "self-defeating".

It really depends on what you want to achieve in your life. Being a successful entrepreneur is PROBABLY good. Proving Fermat's Last Theorem is PROBABLY good too. But there are some people who resented material wealth, attention and power for many reasons. Being caught in the rat race of identifying (or even idolizing) who is best and who is not often makes us forget the many people who had impacted our lives, of whom they themselves have less than stellar performance in many things they do. It is time we pay attention to who's around us, and recognize there are many unsung heroes who never asked for recognition or even gratitude, they just wanted to be respected as a self-dignified individual.

In the case of me, I don't mind ending up as a "nobody" or have low levels of material wealth. As long as I achieve what I think is important to me and have did the best I could, views of people or the society that do not conform to my standards, would probably not matter too much. I might have wished I've gone to MIT or be the alpha male and have lots of female admirers, but hell, I am what I am not.

If you KNOW what you wanna do, then you shouldnt base your choice only on the basis that a university is great for blah blah blah, #1 in blah blah blah. Also, you shouldnt be offended when people's choices or opinions are very different than yours. If you did your best in your situation, it's good enough already.

I have always been disappointed with myself in terms of what I've done in schools. My educational experience is like a rollercoaster: was near the end of the standings in my primary grades > being in both the lousiest and best classes in my secondary years > got into a so called "Best University in Australia" > flunk out > went back to malaysia to attend a normal college > went back to Australia again to study a different subject > got exchanged to a "seemingly one of the very best university in the world" > and now completing my courses there. So you can see, it's not too surprising that people think i'm "stupid" in the "bad" years, and that people said that i'm "smart" to have attended the so-called "prestigious" schools, even though my brain still has the same density of neurons.

For me, it doesnt quite matter. I've tried my best to learn given my limited intellect and resources. I thank God for everything good and bad, God wants us to try our best: remember that God told Job to "pull his socks up" at some point? I intend to repay God's salvation in some ways to the world. What drives me is the hope that I can achieve something in my lifetime, however short or long it might turn out to be.

After all, the artist who churned out the apparent piece of worthless paper with markings on it might turn out to be a Steinlen ("Le Chat Noir") to some. If not, at least I didn't wipe my butt with that piece of paper and pour the colors into my neighbour's fish-tank !

fargowin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

This is definitely an interesting blog. A little background, I am doing research with a university in Australia (yes, one of the top), have a master with another Australian university (middle-ranked) and has an undergraduate degree from the top university in Singapore. My research is in quality assurance of Australian universities, I teach in several universities here and is definitely Non native.

First, I reckon that when a university is ranked top, one has to look carefully about the ranking. Ranking doesn't tell about teaching quality, how compassionate the teachers are for the students etc. The two top universities that I have attended are on the top 100 list but then, the lecturers are just purely interested with their own research. Students are left alone to pursue their study on their own, most of the time, and solve their problems their own too. Surprisingly most managed.

The high entry requirements, in my experience have sometime backfire by creating a feeling of "being elite", "cream of the crop" that lead to arrogance, if not properly managed.

Issue on English, I am not a native speaker, but I managed to survive both academically and in the professional world. The Australians have been criticizing on the poor English standards of overseas students. To a certain extent, I do agree with that. But there again, I teach in universities here. The Australian students are vocal in their presentations, but many are just as poor as the international students when it comes to written. Unless, a proper statistics or research is done to compare the local and international students when it comes to English - both written and spoken. I think one can simply brush off such comments that international students are poor in English. I think a rather sweeping statement.

The bottom-line of education should be promoting and cultivating a next generation who is equipped with knowledge and skills for the social needs. But most importantly, it is important to pass down teachings on ethics, attitudes and social skills. Missing all these elements, ranking of universities are just another commercial and political exercise that reveal nothing.

The few universities that I am teaching now are at the bottom of rankings. However, a majority of the lecturers there are passionate in teaching and helping the students. This, a critical element to a good study experience is missing in both top universities I have experienced.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting blog indeed. Well, I've been involved in intense inner battle for the past few months for where to study. This blog has given me some really helpful insight.

I am a STPM student waiting for University application.

I have already got my offers from Singapore and Australia. I am experiencing major headache to choose between them.Personally, I favour Australian Education because it gives a whole different environment for me to look experience and it's always been my dream to try out overseas life. However, due to financial limitations (common problem for most undergraduates), I can only go to the less well-known and lower-ranked Unis like Tasmania and Newcastle.

The thing is, I got offer from NUS as well. My favoured course is economics and I do not know how to make a decision. The options I have now is :-

1. Tasmania
2. Newcastle (Australia)
3. NUS

Which 1 is the most wise choice and best place for education ? Can you guys give me some helpful hints.

Anonymous said...

One Australian university which I will term as "C"an "S"uck "U" ouf of alot of $ kept on failing their postgraduate students to suck more money out of them. Sad that the then authorities kept it under wraps. Now that same institution's is headed by an established head of one of the private institutions in KL whose face appears quite commonly in our newspapers on Sundays. Talk about hypocracy and being taken for a ride.

Anonymous said...

I believe that universities are providing a learning environment. But, how effective the provided learning environment can be depends heavily on the students. Firstly, look at Malaysia. We are producing students with many As. In fact, many of them are with more than 10As in SPM. Are these students independent learners? If they are not, then they may not appreciate the learning environment of a university. Some of the traditional universities are providing learning environment which emphasizes more on theories. Definitely, not all students can appreciate these theories. Some of the newer universities are providing environment which emphasizes more on vocational trainings. These vocational trainings are able to put workers into job market easier (in theory). Therefore, should we just discuss about the reputation of a university, the comparison of Australian, British, American or universities without a proper understanding of learning environment of a university? I guess we are in the wrong direction. Just imagine, if a university emphasizes heavily on independent learning, many of the Malaysians may think that this university is providing a “poor” teaching.

In each country, higher education is established based on the requirements of a country. For instance, generally, before a student can be accepted into undergraduate programme of a British university, he/she has completed 13 years of education; for Australia, 12 years of education; for US 12 years of education. Generally, the duration of undergraduate course in the UK is 3 years (for honours degree), Australia is 3 years (plus 1 additional year if with honours) and 4 years in US (US universities do not award degree with hohours). Based on a careful analysis, for these 3 countries, students have to complete a degree on average in 16 years. Further, in the UK, there are two types of engineering undergraduate courses: BEng (3 years) and MEng (4 years). Not all students can be accepted into MEng you can only be “upgraded” from BEng to MEng. These two types of degrees fulfill different requirement of professional engineering bodies in the UK. Again, without a clear understanding of the unique system in the UK for engineering education, can we claim that BEng of a UK university is of a poorer quality of 4-year BEng offered by an Australian university?

Further, while a number of us raise issues related to the quality of education provided by many branch campuses of foreign universities, such as Monash, Curtin, Swinburne and Nottingham, have you checked the activities organized by these universities, the staff profiles and others? I believe that it is not fair to comment on the quality of these institutions just based on what others had said. Based on the time constraint, I had visited Monash Malaysia and Nottingham Malaysia webpage, I observed that many of the staff are well-qualified and they are active in research. Should this be an indication of minimal attainable quality? Do you know that the students in Nottingham University are awarded identical qualification regardless of campus a student studies (I get this from its advertisement) (Nottingham has campuses in China, Malaysia and UK, do visit this page www.nottingham.ac.uk). Why should a university put its reputation into risk if it is unable to maintain or monitor the quality of its branch campus? I guess the same applies to Monash, Curtin and Swinburne.

Further, why should we argue that Australian universities are better than British universities or vice versa? At least they provide an opportunity for us to upgrade our human capital. I really don’t believe that after studying 3 or 4 years in a university you do not learn additional skills. The higher educational arrangements of these countries are not comparable. To be awarded a degree (single major) by an Australian university, a student has to complete 24 subjects. However, for the case of British universities, there is no unified rule. For instance, to complete a degree from LSE you just have to complete 12 subjects (4 subjects a year) –the lowest total subjects; from Nottingham you have to complete 36 subjects (12 subjects a year)-the highest total subjects. (Do correct me if I am wrong) It can be observed easily that there is no unified learning environment for the case of British universities. I guess at the end it depends heavily on students’ choices and abilities. Can we claim that LSE has provided a poor quality because of low umber of subjects been studied? Further, LSE assessments depend only on 3 hours examination per subject in the month of May. There is no coursework component that can contribute to the final assessment. LSE assessments are highly examination-oriented. Again, can we say that LSE is of a lower quality?

Please try to understand why we need higher education before we raise questions about quality. Some of us think that the degrees offered by Open University Malaysia is easy and of lower quality. Think again. OUM actually provides opportunity for those to upgrade their skills. Please don’t say that distance learning courses are “useless”. The Open University in the UK has provided an excellent learning environment.

OK. That is all.

Anonymous said...

Now that a reputable Australian university south of the border has pulled out and left 150 students stranded. It seems as though Australian universities are like cowboy outfits that a local university college is copying. They even have programs to do with detecting crimes when the perpitrator is none other than the institution conducting the programs which ask for never ending payments - like a racket. It all really sucks.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous. "Please try to understand why we need higher education before we raise questions about quality."

Can we be less hung up on the mastering of english language? The point here should be on the ability to communicate sufficiently and articulately, and there are those who can speak english like the queen but talk and behave like and idiot, or those who don't speak as well, but is able to communicate and articulate their thoughts well. Can we also be less hung up on which uni is 'top' or 'better'? All these smells of western hegemony and elitism. One should always qualify what one means by 'better'.

Mr contributors I have a request. Can you start a post or state your definition on what the definition of 'education' means for your blog? Does its purpose include building of thoughtful action for social justice? Based on my observations in cambridge, I would say that the education experience in a 'top' uni like cambridge prepares one very little in this respect.

Anonymous said...

errrrr

Anonymous said...

One Australian University from Wagga Wagga totally gave the students the run around by promising them that they would get through time and time again, this went on for three years and they were asked either to leave or cough up more funds. Neither was there accountability or responsiblity from the uni nor their agent which is running a well known uni college in Damansara and many were left in the lurch over that incident. The point is do Aussie unis keep on asking for more bucks from students without passing them and is China right by lashing out at them as being unethical? Well, you be the judge but really buyer please beware of those down under, false promises of getting your degree. I totally agree with China's assessments of Australian education, ain't no good any longer. Another pal of mine who is a professor at a pretigious uni in Victoria says that Aussie standards are dropping fast. Secondly, funds are short and even with the promising Aussie economy there are some that are near bankruptcy. Those like that in Wagga have gone into distance learning and under agencies that keep on changing names of incorporation deceiving poor students who have invested their hard earned savings only to find that they have been duped. What a way to go. Futher, this Aussie institution is steadfast about teaching ethics, but when it comes to applying it to their operations, it is sorely lacking or doesn't exist. What are they doing round the world and especially in developing countries?

james said...

Why worry? Anywhere in the world no matter where you study, there are going to be people who aren't proficient in english. I live and studied in US (I'm a malaysian though!) and there are vietnemese who have lived here like 15 years or more but still could communicate in english properly. There are a lot of foreign students studying in countries such as Australia, US or the UK who aren't proficient in spoken english but most of them can write better than the native english speakers. you'd be surprised but i've seen it. just because you can speak with an australian or american slang doesn't make you better.

All the western countries are welcoming people from asia and middle east because they know that's where their main revenue is.
Can't blame entirely on us for lowering the standards of the universities. After all they have the responsibilites to maintain their standards too instead of becoming money sucking machines.

Anonymous said...

Hi all,

Personally i feel these whole issue about what defines a "good" university of "quality" tertiary education is rather thorny and contentious.

What constitutes a good university besides a wholesome, well rounded education, administered by highly qualified lecturers, coupled with great peers and schoolmates? Well, to sum it all up, you. We define universities in the same way they define us.

Talk a little bit of my own personal experience. During my college days, i was very fortunate to keep into contact with current religion. I embraced it and it changed my life in the most magnificent way ever. Likewise I got to know some of the most wonderful human beings, and formed very meaningful and fun relationships with peers and teachers alike. I also joined the cross country team, of which memories never fail to leave lingering sweet taste in my heart.

What i am driving at is that the whole point about university boils down to the individual himself. It sounds embarrassingly cliched; but truth is, it depends on how much you make out of it. Whether you choose to sit in a quiet corner of a library or actively seek out enjoyable activities during your course of study would decide on the very "quality" of your education. For my case, i couldnt make it to the supposedly top ivy league colleges (i was very disappointed and even cried) but years down the road i have never regretted ( even rejoicing) over the fact that I walked the other path.

Of course, experiences with aussie universities esp in relation to application matters has affirmed, to a certain extent, my belief in that the tertiary education has indeed been commercialized and exported as a commercial commidity; lower admission requirements have diluted the standards of some courses while the over-eager approach to attract students has resulted in underqualified candidatges being admitted.

That said, we ought to to look at things in a larger perspective. Australian universities receives low funding from the government. Also, why not think it in another way. Why criticize a system which offers a chance for those deprived of a place in their local universities, which are usually highly competitive? These candidates might have missed their grades marginally; competition might have been too stiff, so much so that very highly competent candidates are denied admissions into local unis?

Citing an example. What is the quota put in place for singapore medicine and law? As we can see, we have well over 10000 local A level JC candidates applying for uni. For medicine alone, we have over 1400 highly abled applicants, while only 230-250 places allocated. This is a grossly oversubscription by a multiple of 6. The same applies for law. You see, so should we tell these law and medicine wanabes that this is the end of the route? No. Many flies over to aussie eventually. It offers the best of both worlds : close proximity coupled with lower cost and good environment. This is what I feel we should give credit to aussie unis for; they provide a chance. not only for mediocre students, but also outstanding students, to pursue the course of their interest, which would have otherwise been infeasible in singapore. (This may apply in other countries). Besides, how many of us would want to pay half a million for a med course in uk if we can pay half that amount in aus?

I guess we must really understand the way australian unis function before we can directly criticize. How many people's lives have been lifted because of the chance to do a degree course in aussie? Having low entry requirements may not neccessarily entail a lowering of education standard--> see it in another light, it offers a chance for late boomers, or slow starters, a chance to blossom a highly versatile and rich Australian education? Does that mean if i cannot get into nus or ntu in singapore, I have no prospects already? You have never seen anyone who became so happy because of a chance to do degree courses in a reputable aussie uni. I did. And it changed his life and prospects.

And entry requirements might be somewhat reflective of the kind of academic quality in its pool of students, but it by no means say anything about the university, its curriculum, its staff memebers, or its "quality" for that matter. It only says that people who get into these courses are along the higher end of the school leaving examination (if the entry score is high..for example law), but it does not mean this uni provides the best education, or that you will get the best out of it, or that you are guaranteed a successful path in front of you. Entry requirements do not show us the overall quality of a university. It would be up to you to discover.

Lastly. all these hypes about LSE, Harvard, UPenn wharton, Cambridge is getting on my nerves. What does it really mean if you study in cambridge as compared to say, studying in monash in australia? You might be a mediocre in an extradinary setting. Many people have commented on how these supposed scholars who fly over to Stanford..harvard..ended up being average in their classes. ok I have to admit that these qualified applicants for ivy league and top unis in uk or usa should be recognised for their talents and hard work, and most lilely these people will succeed in their life, but BY VIRTUE OF HARD WORK AND THEIR PERSONAL SKILLS AND QUALITIES, not because they belong to harvard and poof, a magic wand waves and he becomes CEO of XXX company.

I must admit i am not the most qualified person on this issue. Yet I hope we all look at topics like this, in particular australian education : Declining or not, with an open rather than reproachful or resentful approach. We all have our "two cents" worth, we all like to stand firm on our ground, but i think we have missed the point completely. The thing about this whole topic is to give us some idea, and some enlightenment, on issues we do not know or have yet to known. People who have real experiences can alter our mistaken perceptions; people who had first hand knowledge can share with us their insights. These give us a larger picture and henceforth a greater perspective with regards to australian university, and by extension, universities across the globe. Hopefully, this will serve its purpose of informing and helping those that are seeking higher education overseas, particularly australia, which is what it is all about isnt it?

Anonymous said...

For all those guys knocking Tony P-have you studied in a top university? I went to MIT and took classes taught by Robert Solow (Uncle Bob), Dan McFadden, Robert Merton, Paul samuelson and Amartya Sen (cross registered at Harvard). Believe me there's nothing like being in a class taught by these people, and with class mates who are not intimidated by these guys.
Don't trust those guys who say the best in their fields can't teach-these scholars know their fields so well and are not afraid of challenges from their students.
Yeah, grades don't matter for those who believe only in self validation. Unfortunately grades reflect competitive competence.
As for Aussie educational standards let me give you an anecdote. A few years back I worked in a private college. A former student who was denied his Diploma in Business due to lack of competency in English (failed English requirement), managed to get into UNISA and returned with a degree in Business. He then demanded in his broken English to be awarded his Diploma as he had "passed" a higher level examination in English language in an English speaking country!

Anonymous said...

What do you expect of a nation of convicts that run unis to legally extort monies from unsuspecting Asian students

Anonymous said...

>As for Aussie educational standards let me give you an anecdote

And from this single incident, you insinuate an all-encompassing generalization about the state of Aussie education.

Heh, talk about an invitation to ridicule. I expected more from an MIT graduate.

But then you're an economist.

Anonymous said...

to the anon(i know who you are) above, hey, i guess i wont be visiting you in melbourne at end of the year. if your parents asked why, just tell them i had somewhere else to go. good rebuttal btw, cheers.

(i tot you wanted to be an economist too?) lolz

Anonymous said...

i like the comment by anon 7/16/2007 02:12:00 AM (the one above the doofus MIT fella whom i consider being admitted into MIT is plain sacrilege)

at least he's one who has experienced first hand education in australia, and gives a more objective view than most commentors here who (un)intelligently deduced the flagrant conclusion of aussie education=mediocre education based on some isolated incidents that are also apparent in the uk and the usa. blind generalisation in dangerous in society, and as msians i thought we knew better than this.

Anonymous said...

Ha, ha, black pot calling…-you tarred all economists with the same brush!

The anecdote was to illustrate the irony of those who think that they can judge educational standards. A local non degree granting institution thinks its English standards are so high that it refuses to award a Diploma to a student who had passed the course examinations. On the other hand, a relatively well known Aussie Uni could see beyond fluency in the English language to award the student his degree when he successfully completed the course requirements.

Good luck with your studies in Melbourne!

Anonymous said...

As for the report about graduates who were granted PR with bad English commands... the government are actually making life difficult for people who have good English commands to get PR by raising the bar to 6.0 IELTS points (i.e wasting time and money to get ourselves tested)

Maise

Anonymous said...

This guy Kian Ming is a real joke. Sounds like another bullshit artist who's in love with himself just like that guy Azly Rahman. That's why he's all out behind Azly Rahman despite.

I guess this is a common Bodohland syndrome - syok sendiri - that strikes Bodohlanders.

The local politicans, students, and the average prostitute, no one is spared.

Mmm, that explains why Bodohland will never be anything other than low down third world country.

Anonymous said...

.......

And what's this with neverending argument about "top universities" and who's longer and bigger and harder?

What are you guys? Idiots?

Its really amusing so see so many clown argue day after day with which uni is better, from Taipei uni to UK to US, to UKM while no one discussed if any one of the potential student is any good?

If you're an idiot, you're an idiot. No uni can help you.

The rest of you, just get accepted, and do a good job and graduate for f^%$s sake. If you're in the middle of you studies now, whichever uni ur in, just shut the f^%$& up and finish you studies.

And those of you who're studying because they want degrees to brag (like KM and buddies), guess what, you're not going anywhere in the real world. You can only be a local champ in Bodohland, and a Mr Zero in the real world.

Idiots.

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I went to NUS, and soon it will be my boys' turn to decide on which uni they want to go to.

As they are quite intelligent, I encourage academic excellence nudgingly. But I would also buy them whatever reading materials they choose,eg computer games mags, Focus (a science mag by BBC),books on astronmy, history, pre-history, dogs, Warren Buffett(starting from a cartoon book on him), etc. A movie I managed to interest them in was The Pirates of Silicon Valley. I'll sometimes find them reading my Time, Newsweek or Forbes.

In our periodic discussions on their future, I would remind them that both Bill Gates and Warren Buffett left the unis they were in when they felt they weren't learning what they wanted. They know that Gates went to Harvard.They also know that many great scientists (eg Einstein)and captains of industry the world over did not go to uni.

The elder boy presently has a rather down-to-earth ambition of becoming a doctor-investor, whilst the younger has already indentified what unis he'll go to.

But as their father, what I want them to remember always is that whatever the level of education reached, there will always be many who are smarter than them,in the many specialised fields of knowledge which are required for the world to function. And knowing how to assess and harness the knowledge of others is the key to a productive and happy life.

My little contribution to this blog discussion.

Merdeka Man.

Anonymous said...

Charles Sturt University with the help of a certain Chan guy helped to continuously force payments of fees with no end to helpless individuals even with the MOE's blessing.

Anonymous said...

A certain Dr Michael Thong and Peter Sheldrake from a Victorian university has an air of arrogance and should they partake in any talks here, please beware they might be pretending. The former was given separation from his employer and was not only unpopular amongst his fellow colleagues but also amongst some of his students whom he had free meals off! As for Peter Sheldrake an Aussie would term him a Pom who is not only extremely proud but stuck up.

Anonymous said...

As one of the graduate from Australia Uni and has been working in Australia for almost half a decade. Although I don't think I have perfect command of my English but this doesn't stop me from making 6 figures salary in one of the Top Company in Sydney. I guess working life is more than just ENGLISH. So much so there is determination to excel, hard work, social skill and etc. If one will to win, I guess nothing can stop him.

andie said...

I have a friend graduating in one of the Uni in UK and currently working in our Company as an editor. Her level of English was so low, everyone was quite surprised on how she managed to pass with a 2nd upper grade.

You see, this means that this problem does not only occur in an Australian Uni, it also happens in UK.

So please don't generalise!

ihateshallowppl said...

Are you hiring an educator or someone who can value add to the bottomline of ur coy???

If it's the latter should you not be more concern about the interviewees' attitude and aptitude for work rather than go so overly concern about the admission standards of their unis???
Academic smart does not equals to work savviness.

If you were an employer u should have known better.... You might have gotten urself a good degree but you certainly did not receive a good education.

Anonymous said...

dude. lighten up man.. all of ya. quit hentam-ing everything tony has to say =.=

media guru said...

My my my, I am surprised for such a shallow analysis from a Oxford man with a PPE and a narrow overview of Australian unversity education. I have sponsored a few students to some of the top Universities in UK as well as Australia.
In the 1980s Universities in UK were also commercialised. Polytechnics become Universities overnight to take in all the foreign income from students from Commonwealth countries.
I know of students who failed to enter Australian universities for a medical degree and were accepted in UK.
A good grasp of English is not a criteria. I have met top scientists from China studying in USA ivory league who cannot string a paragraph in English.

Anonymous said...

"UITM is a world-class university, correct correct correct!!!"

- VK Lingam -

Anonymous said...

I guess it's inappropriate to generalize graduates from the country they study. Best method is to select a few top universities in each country e.g. US, UK, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia etc and make a comparison. I'm Australian graduate from a leading university down under and I feel that UK and Aust graduates are comparable in terms of abilities and intelligence. However, not sure whether it's the nature of the education system, but, US graduates appear to be more outspoken.

Dr Siva said...

I believe this topic relates to decling standards in Australian higher education.

As somebody who works in the Australian university sector I have certain authority (albiet limited) to comment.

During the 1980's the Australian higher education system went through major restructure. The then edcuation minister John Dawkins dismanteld the binary educations system by converting the old polytechnics (Institutes of Technology) into universities.

The process was reffered to as "massification" of the university sector. In the good old days you had a few strong universities that admitted only the very best students and you had a domestic job market that competed for limited numbers of graduates.

Today you have large numbers of mediocre universities that churn out huge numbers of graduates in excess of jobs - you therefore have a large number of graduates applying for a limited number of jobs.

Many of these new universities have courses with curriculum tailored to industry (IT, Accounting etc) however they also offer general degrees where graduates often face unemployment or retraining.

Over time the increase in new universities has meant a drop in overall standards, this happended in the UK and is currently happening in New Zealand.

According to a major Public Policy Institute in Australia The primary issue is that 500,000 university graduates are currently working in non-graduate jobs. Often associate professionals, technicians, adminsitrators but sometimes store clerks, cleaners and shop assistants. This is clearly a poor use of public money.

The original intention of massification was to increase accessibility of a university education to all Australians who wanted one. The statistics show that having a university degree (even a general degree from a new uni) will improve job prospects. The problem is one of value for money.

In the current resources boom young high school graduates will choose to find work in the mining and services sector, rather than risk losing 3-4 years salary pursuing a degree especially from a less prestigious university.

All of this commentary does not impact on the Group of 8 - Melbourne, Sydney, UQ, Adelaide, UNSW, UWA, Monash and ANU.Graduates from here are internationally employable.

Parvinder Kler said...

I work as an Economics lecturer at the Uni of Qld, and did my Ph.D there-I found the review of the Monash article interesting, especially since I have also undertaken work on 'graduate overeducation' in Australia. I have yet to read the details, but I think a few points need to be made.

1. English language barriers are an important determinant of employability in Australia. Looking at immigrants, English speaking background (ESB) immigrants perform even better than Australian born natives particularly as immigrants possess better qualifications. This is also probably a proxy for cultural similarities (though that remains econometrically untested). Thus if ESB immigrants who studied in Australia perform better than the native-born (who are less likely to have tertiary qualifications), does that mean the Australian universities are actually bloody excellent? It should by default if we accept that NESB immigrants who gained their qualifications in Australia are doing worse as a condemnation of the Australian university system. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

2. It is not evident that these NESB students who apply for a PR after completing their studies actually want to be employed in the fields that they studied-for a significant number, they studied accounting or IT in order to obtain enough points to get the PR. They seek to remain in Australia, and not necessarily be accountants etc...this overstates the results, and in my personal experience, quite significantly.

3. The dataset utilised (Census data) is a very broad aggregation of data-it tells you precious little about the match between qualifications and employment. I have yet to read the study but I suspect (as I have published using census data) that it will be difficult to get it published at a top journal due to the severe limitation of the data irrespective of the quality of the research undertaken-this must be taken into account when looking at the results. For one, the definition of a 'professional' job is based on an answer given ona sheet of paper which is then derived into a set of occupational codes. This is far from accurate, and also the paper cannot distnguish between those who have only just begun work with those already employed for a few years (and who might have improved on their 'occupational posistion'). The dataset is simply silent on this matter.

4. I take some umbrage that Australian qualifiactions are devalued due to the crass commercialisation of the tertiary education sector but I acknowledge that it is present (as it is in the UK and US let us not forget). We too have good and poor performing universities, and when you account for the fact that government investment in tertiary education in Australia is far lower than the UK or the US, we actually do quite well. However, one way in which qualifications are devalued has been through lowering English language requirements. I have to mark some essays that would not go amiss in an English language class. This is then bourne out in the employability of these graduates.

The problem then, more than anything else is language and cultural-native born Australians have no difficulty whatsoever obtaining proper employment in Australia eventhough they study (on average) subjects which lead to jobs which are not in demand. Both groups study the same notes from the same lecturers. If one is getting success and the other is not, I suggest we revisit the personal characteristics of the two groups and the labour market system in Australia and the institutions governing it, rather than making over-simplifying statements.

Anonymous said...

Everybody here is talking about which university is the best in which part of the world but nobody really looks at it that the 2nd richest man in the world never graduated from Harvard nor did the richest man in Malaysia ever had a degree in the first place.

Having a degree only gets one to that first level (it gives the added edge if you are from a renowned/famous university) but it is the personality and core soft skills of an individual that will see through the survival of the fittest test.

xenotzu said...

With regard to the standard of english in the USA, in the words of Professor Higgins in "My Fair Lady", "In America, they haven't used it (English) in years."

Study in Australia said...

Well I think it depends on the university you are going through and also will depend on you...

nn said...

http://educationmalaysia.blogspot.com/2008/06/new-ums-vc.html

Nick said...

the purpose of languages is to communicate but not to discriminate.

I was graduated from an Aussie University and studied in Harvard.

I think the main point is whether one can use the languages to communicate effectively or not.

Do you think people in the business world are patient enough to read through the shakes pears styled letters nowadays?

Anonymous said...

Well, it doesn't matter from which uni that you graduated from, but if you can't think properly, you're not good enough.

So what if one graduated from Harvard or other unis that some highly regard, eg Oxford or Cambridge, but they can't solve problems while others who graduated from UM or Aussie unis can? I've met a few.

Just because one graduated from Oxford doesnt mean he/she is good. Just because one graduated from UM doesn't mean he/she is not good. I can easily show you a few from 'not good' unis (eg UM) who is regarded as much more intelligent than those who are from Oxford/Cambridge. ;)

felia wong said...

My take away from this post is Malaysian are quite vocal, but again only behind the screen. Again, I cannot fall into the trap to generalize because we get to meet more unknown people who talk about all 'boundless' provocative issues online. I love the thought-provoking statements made by Tony, Tiara and Old Man. I don't deny the situation that is described in Australia, nor do I refute what's more important when it comes to success. After reading the entry and comments, people form different opinions, formulate new beliefs or probably affirm what they already have in mind. It's suicidal to narrow one's mindset just by reading a good entry. Expand what you already read and let your mind brings you beyond that. I wouldn't wish to see my own children to fall into such a trap and be shallow to deal with issues in life. It's an awe to meet people from the acclaimed GOOD universities but it is more of an admiration when someone who can take charge of situation, empowering people and yet stay grounded...Hello to all Malaysian :)

Anonymous said...

Unisa is closing its master prog in comm at KDU PJ campus. What's going on la? Are these foreign and local counterparts just out to make quick money? I think the authorities should check on these colleges that run these programmes.

mocs said...

Bob Birrell of Monash University, “more than one-third of foreign students graduating from Australian universities, mainly Asians, have such poor English skills they should never have been admitted”.

If this is the case, then it is a pity. However, most of those who go to Australia are on a scholarships..and screener's are looking not just at english skills, but also, math, science etc. Education is not all about english skills, except when your degree is english journalism, literature etc.

Anonymous said...

I think UNISA is stopping its programmes overseas because it wants to focus "on becoming a research uni"... this is the decision of the new VC.

Mons said...

Students studying abroad may not always be perfect in English or whatever language they are studying in, but it must be said that it does give opportuinities in both contacts and cultural understanding that will count for the rest of their lives. And I don't think that they have a negative impact on the rest of the school for that matter.

TheMessenger said...

i would strongly discourage any1 from coming to australian universities.i m not sure about the standard of english among international students but I would like to comment on the standard of teaching here. i m in unsw and it's all about self-study. most of the lectures are just not up to par. also i would say that most lecturers (those with Phd included) need pedagogical training.
if going overseas, it's imperative that u look for a uni thats good. if not its better to study locally than to pay high fees for mediocre education overseas. dont know about other unis in aus but from wat i heard all of them same same..most of them love to shrug it off as 'we are not spoonfeeding the students'.
i suggest that prospective students take a look at all the ranking for teaching quality when deciding which uni to go to. now that the pound is so much weaker, maybe it's better value for money to go to the UK. just my two cents. i m doing medicine btw.

路客,本名:Luke。 said...

Language is just a tool for communication. What matters the most is the idea and skill, right?

Anonymous said...

The piece in the local media of Australian unis that cheat their students from India is indeed valid and true. Get there find out you have been fleeced is very much mainstay of Australian education. One of my friends who did a program from a uni with the acronym Cari Student Universally got cheated and then extorted time after time again by the local agent. What is worse they only awarded their cronies the postgraduate degree who in turn teach at local unis. Personally, I dread to think the lack of ethical conduct by these graduates but then again it is up to Malaysian students to be vigilant and ask where their lecturers have been qualified from. Australian unis must be taught a lesson that they can't keep on extorting monies from their students who don't have the crony lineage. Secondly, some of them have gone round the world with substandard ethnographic approach to answering emails with racist undertones. It almost wrecks of havoc.

Anonymous said...

Can't really see the fuss of speaking good / perfect english as long as one is capable of expression his/her thoughts soundly and articulately.

Many european universities do not stress much on english language (German universities for instance more often than not conduct BSc. courses in German)yet, many of their graduates are higly competent. I have interacted with many Chinese students too and i reckon they are very competent. English is useful no doubt but it should not be the most important criteria when evaluating a student's / employee's capabilities.

Anonymous said...

Well-Wisher,

According 2 me the 50 percent pass marks in Australia is very harsh. I have completed my year 10 from an Asian country which has its pass marks as 35 percent, but the questions which they ask are very competitive. All in all I feel that Aus. Uni's have become a money making business where they reduce the number of graduates who pass out. Whereas in my country though they ask tough questions, but they don't play with student's lifes by failing them.

Anonymous said...

If you haven't been into two different education systems on the same level. You don't have any idea on how others, such as canada, america & england, do to educate students on tertiary level. I've been to Aus and the states to experience how different they are. My answer is, the states require higher standard and they really control the quality. But Aussie's ones just can't control and ensure the quality, period.

Persons from Aus can be good. But in general, from my work experience, they dun do as good as others from different english speaking countries.

Anonymous said...

Is Australia safe for foreign students?

Here are excerpts from two newspapers on the issue -

The Star, Malaysia – 11 March 2010

Violence against Indian students has damaged Australia’s reputation and will lead to a drop in the number of foreign students, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said.

Smith on Tuesday said that a spate of violent attacks on Indian nationals, mostly in the southern city of Melbourne, had contributed to growing questions over the integrity of Australia’s overseas education system.

Unscrupulous educational institutions luring Indian students to Australia with the promise of the chance to remain in the country had also contributed to the damage and would cause a drop in student arrivals, he said.


The Times of India – March 16 2010

MELBOURNE: ``Please don't come to Australia.'' That was the message to Indians from Baljinder Singh, a 25-year-old student, who was discharged on Saturday, having survived a vicious assault earlier this week.

`My advice to every Indian student now who wants to come to Australia is: please don't come. There's no life here,'' said Singh, who was robbed and stabbed in a Melbourne station on Monday.

Kumar's friends and acquaintances have expressed concern over the attacks. ``Basically, we are not feeling safe in Australia, we are not feeling safe at all,'' one of them told the Herald Sun.

Another Indian said: ``They told us that it is a multicultural country but after living here for three years, I will just say it is a multi-racist country.''


After reading these two articles and many others, I feel that Australia is not safe for foreign students.

Here in Malaysia, we allow foreign universities to set up shop and give them money. Do you see how they treat foreigners in their own land?

Anonymous said...

Aussie lecturers can be quite rude. Some can even come of as racist.

In contrast, American profs are laid back and appreciate the student's viewpoint. UK profs, while they are known to have a stiff upper lip, seem to be sincere.

Let's face the facts, the Whites are good at everything they do, especially in the field of education. However, not all Whites are the same.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 6/14/2009, 3:41PM.

Agree with you, don't be cheated by this people.

Don't let anybody sweet talk you.

Find out first. Talk to students who have been conned.

Anonymous said...

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said "...growing questions over the integrity of Australia’s overseas education system".

When their own Foreign Minister says that, then I rest my case.

Anonymous said...

Top US varsities on Indian shores?

'INDIA's cabinet recently approved legislation that would allow foreign universities to open campuses in the country, paving the way for massive reform in the education system'.

'The law will put before parliament shortly and could see famous universities such as Harvard, Yale and Oxford, which had previously established tie-ups, actually set up campuses in the country'. - AFP

- source: The Star, Education, Sunday 21 March 2010

Way to go India!!! India should encourage the US and the UK to set up more universities there. Here's to quality education!

John said...

Everything is relative, I have studied higher education in Europe, Africa and in the U.S. In my opinion quality education comes down to little things like what teacher you have in that specific class. So it's hard to generalize on schools and what is quality education.

Mohamed said...

Hai all, Any of you heard about Kamal medical book supplies in kl.

Anonymous said...

Tony said these 5years ago!!!
"Oh, and Tiara, I'll qualify my statement you quoted:

Generally if in doubt, and if your concern is with academic quality, always pick the universities with the highest entry requirements. ;)"

I only bumped into this page 5.5 years after it was published. I can agree 100% with what Tony said above, as well as Tony's observations in the article.

Personally I work in a technology
company with a workforce of 500, and I know no less than 20 Australian graduates. If you're to add in my personal friends then I might have a sample of around 50 Australian graduates. Let me tell you one thing. Of the 20 in my company, only ONE is of the type who is real good in job, while the rest are good in throwing jargon, doing presentation, calling meetings with no solid knowledge on the job they are on. It keeps reminding me of Empty Tins Make the loudest Noise. While I know most of you who graduated from Australia will be pissed with me, maybe I'm sooooo unfortunate to bump into 19 bad apples out of a sample of 20... As one who replied to Tony said Malaysian like to see what they want to see, ditto for the empty tin cans who spent hundreds of thousands of their parents money and received SUB-STANDARD education... Sorry, fact is fact...