Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Vice-Chancellor Selection

Finally I had my question on the status of the Universiti Malaya vice-chancellor and the Ministry's selection process answered today in writing by the Ministry of Higher Education.

My question to the Minister was
...bagaimana kedudukan kontrak Naib Canselor Universiti Malaya. Adakah seorang Naib Canselor baru akan dilantik, dan apakah cara pemilihan yang akan digunakan untuk mengenal pasti seorang akademik yang bertaraf "world class" untuk memulihkan mutu pengajian tinggi di Malaysia.
We have already received news blogged here earlier via the media that the UM vice-chancellor's contract has been extended by 6 months to 7th November 2008. Hence, the focus was on the Ministry's reply towards and its ability to shed light on its selection mechanism.
Cara pemilihan Naib Canselor yang dilaksanakan oleh Kementerian ialah membentuk satu Jawatankuasa Semakan/Carian bagi menilai prestasi Naib Canselor berdasarkan petunjuk prestasi utama (KPI) yang ditetapkan.

Sekiranya Jawatankuasa berpuas hati dengan prestasi Naib Canselor sedia ada, maka Jawatankuasa akan mengesyorkan kepada YB Menteri supaya perkhidmatan Naib Canselor sedia ada disambung.

Sekiranya Jawatankuasa tidak berpuas hati, maka proses carian calon-calon yang berkelayakan akan dibuat. Calon-calon tersebut kemudiannya akan ditemuduga dan dinilai berdasarkan kriteria-kriteria tertentu separti nilai dan sikap yang positif, pencapaian akademik, kepimpinan dan pengurusan, pengiktirafan di peringkat tempatan dan antarabangsa, artikulasi visi dan misi, kemahiran komunikasi dan jauga keperibadian yang unggul. Calon-calon yang berjaya akan disyorkan kepada YB Menteri untuk pertimbangan dan persetujuan.
I don't know about you, but I thought it was an answer that was as good as a "no answer".

In other words, the Minister was saying, if the evaluation committee is happy with the vice-chancellor's performance, his or her contract will be renewed, and if not, then a new candidate will be sought according to certain (but unspecified) criteria.

What type of answer is that? Are we more "enlightened" thanks to the highly informative answer given by the Minister?

What criteria is used to evaluate the vice-chancellor? How will the search/evaluation committee be set up? What are the criteria for VC selection? How are the candidates nominated and shortlisted? Will there be worldwide invitation for application? And I could go on and on, especially on how all of the answers to the above questions will priortise on the need for a 'world class' vice-chancellor as the first step towards stopping the continued deterioration of our higher education system.

The reply given by the Minister clearly showed two things.
  1. Firstly, he is not serious about the Parliamentary question and answer session for not having given an answer which shed any light on the issues raised.

  2. Secondly and more importantly, the new Minister of Higher Education, Datuk Khaled Nordin is not serious at all about reforms to our higher education system to narrow the quality gap of between our universities with that of those overseas, and clearly do not have the political will to achieve the goal of a world class university.
Having been following these issues relating to the quality of higher education in Malaysia closely for the past 3 years over 3 different Higher Education Ministers, I'd like to express my complete disappointment with the total lack of progress made by the Ministry in reversing the decline of our local universities.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

My Dear YB Tony Pua

I thought you should be aware in the politics of this country certain phrases like" akan di kaji. akan di teliti, akan di pertimbangkan" are very popular

And that is the last of the issue...

Anonymous said...

Hi Tony,

Forget about dreaming UM to be "world class", aim to achieve "Aisa class" first. We need to set targets that are realistic. We don't want another "World-Class UiTM" that becomes an international laughing stock.

Charis Quay said...

I am not surprised, but don't give up and do keep asking questions. I would also say that 3. 'We have our ways of doing things that we are not interested in revealing to you.' For all you know they already have somebody in mind for reasons that they can't reveal to you. We'll see in six months, won't we?

daniel said...

Hey... what's wrong with UiTM....?? Just because it's for Bumi you have to make fun of it arr....?? haih, you people.

Anonymous said...

Daniel,
Is UiTM world class or not, judge it yourself:
http://educationmalaysia.blogspot.com/2006/06/universiti-teknologi-mara-world-class_06.html

ming said...

I agree with the message/intention of your post but I disagree that the answer given fail to address the question. This is because the question could have been made clearer. The phrase "cara pemilihan" is vague.

If I were asked "what is the selection method for prime minister in your country", I could answer "the prime minister in my country is directly elected by the people", "selected by the emperor", "by Prime Minister conclave", and so on. I don't think the question itself requires me to provide the specifics of the election mechanism, how the conclave works, or how emperor go about selecting the prime minister.

Do you agree that these questions:
What criteria is used to evaluate the vice-chancellor? How will the search/evaluation committee be set up? What are the criteria for VC selection? How are the candidates nominated and shortlisted? Will there be worldwide invitation for application?"

require detailed answers that "cara pemilihan" does not sufficiently cover?

Therefore, I believe it is not a failure on the minister's part to provide answers, but more that the answers given do not satisfy the intention of your questions.

Furthermore, on the point where you said "how all of the answers to the above questions will priortise on the need for a 'world class' vice-chancellor as the first step towards stopping the continued deterioration of our higher education system." This message isn't encapsulated in the phrase:

"apakah cara pemilihan yang akan digunakan untuk mengenal pasti seorang akademik yang bertaraf "world class" untuk memulihkan mutu pengajian tinggi di Malaysia."

the question is essentially "apakah cara pemilihan yang akan digunakan untuk mengenal pasti seorang akademik". "yang bertaraf ++ untuk ++" elaborates further on the academic but not the "cara pemilihan"

So for instance, this quick rephrase might highlight the intention better:
"apakah cara, ciri-ciri, dan kriteria pemilihan untuk mengenal pasti naib canselor UM supaya beliau adalah "world class" dan berupaya memulihkan pengajian tinggi di Malaysia. Bagaimanakah juga kementerian pendidikan memastikan bahawa cara pemilihan yang dipilih untuk tujuan ini adalah terbaik semungkin?

While ministers may attempt to evade questions raised in the parliament, I believe that the way questions are phrased can make a difference, and even show that the answers given are tangential.

Tony P said...

Hi Ming,

A quick response to your comment:

1. My question is partially constrained by the fact that it has to be made within 40 words

2. After receiving various replies for my other questions from MOHE, I'm quite confident to say that even after amending the question to your suggestion, the reply would have been exactly the same.

i.e., the criteria for renewal is to satisfy "KPI yang tertentu" etc.

Tony ;-)

Anonymous said...

Tony,

I think it's the deadwood professors of UM that need to be removed rather than the VC. If you have a team of unsackable deadwood professors running the university, nothing will improve.

In order to remove these deadwood professors, we need to remove UMNO first.

ussdefiantnx74205 said...

Heya Tony. My thoughts on this:

1) The minister was just paying lip service. No concrete answers on the methodology, etc. Besides, there is the big question of transparency - who makes up this 'Jawatankuasa Semakan/Carian'? What a VC is well connected?

There are doors upon doors open to abuse if in this system there is no transparency, and I feel the ministry has an obligation to correct this, perhaps by making public the details on this committee for a start.

2) It is alarming to read that '...Jawatankuasa akan mengesyorkan kepada YB Menteri supaya perkhidmatan Naib Canselor sedia ada disambung..."

This is bad because at the end of the day, it is still the minister who decides who gets hired and who gets fired, not the university. Ideally, an appointment should be done by the university itself, without any potential for political forces to interfere and string up a puppet as a VC.

But then again, all the top administrators are probably political cable-pullers from you-know-which-party, so hard luck of them making an unbiased choice even if the ministry is not involved...

Anonymous said...

Come on, you fellas on this blog.

Be realistic. This is the way, capitalism democracy works.

Yin overshadow Yang.

Bankers, businessmen, property developers and their associates are all at the top of human food chain.

The next rung will be the politicians, Governors, Senators, Congressmen, media executives, editors, journalists, entertainers, etc.

Water-Wood government = capitalism democracy.

This is all political appointees. The VC job is just one of them. So are those professors and lecturers' jobs.

Everything and everyone can be bought nowadays even PhDs too.

The children generation of the "Merchants and Traders" or the capitalists in Malaysia shall be sponsored to study overseas through various scholarship schemes and then be brought back to occupy important key positions within the Malaysia's social hierarchy.

They are the next generation in line to become the intellectual elites of this country.

The stratagem "Replace the beams and pillars with rotten timber" apply here.

The rule of this game is very simple.

The rich becomes richer and the poor becomes poorer.
The powerful becomes more powerful.

The survival of the fittest.

The fittest human beings are defined as those who are rich and cunning.

The knowledge know who apply here, not the knowledge know how.

Money Conquers All (MCA).

The eternal class struggle between capitalists and workers.

The "Yang" faction, the teachers, doctors and engineers are all nothing but employees-workers-hirelings-slaves.

Anonymous said...

The Minister has said that a committee would be set up to evaluate the performance of the VC and to begin the search for new candidates if her performance is found wanting.

I don't see anything wrong with that. They have an action plan to begin with, complete with KPIs as benchmark and a firm deadline.

One can't expect a Minister worth his salt to an off the cuff 'Yes, she will be extended' or 'No, she will be replaced' decision.

Anonymous said...

How about giving a prominent chinese Malaysian to hold the UM VC post and see how UM will be?

Anonymous said...

Anon 09:32:00 AM,
That won't happen as long as UMNO still rules the country.

Anonymous said...

Next election guarantee UNMO wont rule the country but PAKATAN RAKYAT