Thursday, September 04, 2008

USM - the new Apex university

USM has been named the Apex University, beating out UM. Among other things, being named as the Apex university will allow USM to have more 'autonomy in finance, service scheme, management, student intake, study fees and determining the top leadership'. I've always had more positive things to say about USM compared to UM partly because I think that the VC there - Dzulkifli Abdul Razak - is more progressive and visionary compared to the VC at UM. Hopefully this will give another boost to USM in its efforts to improve and upgrade itself.

27 comments:

Alwyn said...

wonder if it's anything to do w the fact that USM has ties with Fairview International School...a school seeking to be the only Two Program IB World School in the country?

Anonymous said...

Wonder when UITM will be an APEX univesity? UM gone...its like flogging a dead horse in trying to achieve academic numero uno!

TTS said...

My feeling, not everybody is happy with apex status. More and more work loads can be expected. If USM do not really look into their service scheme, definitely they will face brain drain very soon.

For the same amount of money, people will choose other university with less work load/ least expectation, lower key performance index. Well, you give banana, you get monkey :-)

Anonymous said...

Just how much is "More Autonomy"? another 30 percent more? 40 percent more? or up to 90 percent? All these are classified under "more".

Why won't they realize that if you want to achieve "World Class" University, you need to have FULLY 100% Autonomy? Almost all of the established and well known universities in the world had their full autonomy on things like lecturer selections, students' enrollment, research directions, etc. Given this situation, all these universities are still struggling and competing with each other toughly and globally to maintain their standards and rankings. Given this situation, how do you think Malaysian University is going to achieve without 100% autonomy? Therefore, getting the basics right as the first place is crucial.

If our university really want to compete globally, that will need a total revamp. I understand that these are not easy task of course. Students recruitment issues (still dual system of STPM and matrikulasi, correct me if I'm wrong), lecturers selection still not based on merit and worse still, they'll get permanent job after confirmation. These makes the process of elimination of incompetent lecturers tougher by thousand times. Those top unis are hiring top people by CONTRACT... either you publish enough research papers, or you just BYE BYE, and there is SERIOUSLY NO PERMANENT JOB TITLE in the academics around the world except our Bolehland (or any others that add to the list?). Our lecturers can't even speak or write proper English (read on the latest ad issue...). English is not even the main medium (talking about want to become regional hub of education? what a joke!). Other things like funding issues, slow management, poorly maintained and not foreign-students-friendly infrastructures (at least you put english signboard lar!!), etc etc. I'm not talking about all, but I'd visited and learned myself quite a lot of local universities are as what I'd described.

To conclude, if USM wanna achieve among the Top 50's by the year 2020 without the proper freedom and autonomy (and drastic change in terms of policy in every aspects), USM is gonna need a BIG MIRACLE to get into the top list.

Insya-Allah USM boleh lar...

Anonymous said...

While I applaud the efforts taken by the current government to introduce this APEX status, designed to propel our local universities to attain world class status, I am very, very skeptical of the view that USM can break into the top 100 universities in 10 year's time. I am absolutely certain that under the current practice where meritocracy is not the culture, there is no way we will improve but instead will slide further in the rankings. Just wait for the 2008 Times rankings. Prove me wrong!

Just visit the latest Shanghai Jiao Tong 2008 rankings and you will face the truth:

http://www.arwu.org/rank2008/ARWU2008_TopAsia(EN).htm

The top university in Asia- Tokyo University is ranked 19th, whilst our neighhour, NUS is ranked in the category of 101-151 ranking group. ANU (Aust Natl Univ) which, has in fact produced Nobel laureates before, is only ranked 59th in the world. Just look at the criteria for the ranking exercise:

http://www.arwu.org/rank2008/ARWU2008Methodology(EN).htm

Under the sections- Quality of Faculty, the indicators are items such as staff winning Nobels Prizes and Fields Medals, Highly cited researchers in at least 21 broad categories; Research Output- Articles published in Nature and Science (as one SINGLE category), articles indexed in Science Citation Index-expanded and the Social Science Citation Index. Just these few criteria I mentioned already made up 80% of the weightage.

Of course some may argue that peer assessment is also important. But how do you do that? Do you take the impression of how others (students and academicians) view the university as an important factor? Nonsense! No amount of money spent of "window dressing" the buildings, roads, etc. can even be counted as part of the weightage!

Another aspect is the amount of funding received. Of course it is easy to highlight the amount of money received for research but what is more important are how those outputs (publication in internationally prominent journals and citations) are linked to the amount of money spent!!!

The point I wish to make is that unless we are ready to overhaul the entire university system in Malaysia, we can continue to pat amongst ourselves at the back and congratulate ourselves for a nice job done- all the glitz and glitter of the award presentation and how the public is conned through the mass media protrayal of the "excellence" in local universities, we are actually the laughing stock of the whole world. Even Thailand and soon Vietnam will overtake us- just wait and see!

Where on earth can you get academic staff immediately given permanent appoinment after one year of probation? Not even required to undergo the rigorous tenure-track process!

Where on earth can you get academic staff appointed as assistant professor or lecturer or senior lecturer immediately after completion his/her PhD, even without having to do at least one round of postdoc?

Where on earth can you get academic staff getting away with having millions of dollars of research grant spent of 'research' but no single mention of any research paper published in SCI-cited international journal but loads in local journals, that do not see the shores beyond Malaysia?

Where on earth can you find this place except in Malaysia, where we continue to self-glorify ourselves for the "progress" achieved....

What a shame!

For the aspirant- USM, make sure you get your so-called research journals attaining impact factors in the SCI soon otherwise your journals can only be second-rate. Forget about those exhibition that you have been so passionate about and the craze to hang yourself with so many gold medals. You pay hefty fees and that, from the RAKYAT's hard-earned money, to finance the trip to those exotic venues...of course, you pay much, you get the medals! Please go back to real research and make us click USM on the international scene and we can see the name of USM in Science, Nature, PNAS,etc. That is a a true university. Shed your Minden High School image and grow up! Don't be smitten with the 'syiok sendiri' image. Open yourself up to global competition. Get the best brains from all over the world or are you still afraid that you will lose your cozy comfort and be trampled by those with real experience and real outputs? Ask yourself and be willing to sacrifice for a change! Shun in-breeding and get the very best. Do you know or don't you know that even Oxford once headhunted the vice-chancellor of Auckland University to be their VC? Think about it.....Or are you so afraid to venture out of your comfort zone. Don't compare with NUS for they are eons ahead of you. Get real help from real people. DO not be ashamed. Get real experts from all our the world to sit in the panel and implement their suggestions!

I wish USM the very best and please prove me wrong by attaining a place in the top 100 universities in the world. I am a patriotic Malaysian who only wish to see my country standing tall amongst the giants in the world. Someday, and perhaps really someday the name of USM or any IPTA can be synonymous with Harvard, MIT, Oxford or even Cambridge.

Last but not least, I am absolutely disappointed that this exercise is another waste of our hard-earned money. Where's the criteria for an APEX university? Where are those scores attained by the four short-listed universities? We, the malaysian public have a right to look at those scores. Come on, be transparent... or you are afraid that the scores are too shameful or perhaps there are no scores or criteria at all?

Zack said...

With USM granted APEX university status, UM is not gone yet. USM was able to produce the best proposal among other universities to win APEX University status but that was just an excellent proposal. What matter most is USM capability of proving and silencing the critics that they are able to improve in the University ranking at international level. Personally, I feel that beside USM, UM should be granted APEX university status as well. Let both Universities compete with each other at intertnational level with the APEX status and let us see who will be ranked better in the years to come. Anyway, the much anticipated THES top universities ranking 2008 will be released soon. Will USM, UM, UKM, UPM and UTM be able to improve their ranking? Will USM be ranked better than UM? We will see what happen in two months to come.

Anonymous said...

Please just give some time to USM to prove it. The ranking in this year is not appropriate to be used as a prediction on whether USM is better than UM.

Although UM is the oldest university, but what i saw is, USM also not bad, maybe even better.

Just be fair, be moderate to support USM and UM.

Free Soul said...

I strongly believe that USM is the number 1 university in Malaysia when it comes to Research and Development.

Many have claimed that UM is over rated and the results produced by UM is not convincing. This may be due to the intake requirements that allows students with credits only to pursue their desired course.

USM has a better academic record and researh background and I feel should be given the "Apex University" title.

Let us see whether USM can live up to it.

Thank you!

Charis Quay said...

Kian Ming, do you have or know where to find 1. the 'call for proposals'? 2. the USM proposal and 3. details on what USM will get? Otherwise I feel we will just be talking around in circles on this thread. It's like a 'seminar discussion' where there was no reading assignment (or a lousy one) or where nobody did the reading... Thanks, Charis.

Anonymous said...

USM HAS A proposal, and it is called TRANSFORMING HIGHER EDUCATION FOR A SUSTAINABLE TOMORROW.

In the transformation plan, USM highlighted 8 areas of transformation:
1. NUTURING AND LEARNING
2. RESAERCH AND INNOVATION
3. SERVICES AND EXTERNAL ACTIVITIES
4. STUDENTS AND ALUMNI SERVICES
5. POSTGRADUATE STUDIES
6. CONCENTRATION OF TALENT
7. RESOURCES
8. SUPPORTIVE GOVERNANCE

Anonymous said...

usm is the best 4 me... well done guys... i though so usm will grab diz apex.. so, 4 all usm staff n students, u should be really proud, at the same time u beat the other u.. usm is the best u in malaysia.. the quality of stdnt n lcturer, and their education!!

Anonymous said...

USM IS THE GREATEST!!! USM STUDENTS!!! I REALLY PROUD!!!!

Anonymous said...

UITM 2 BE APEX U? HAHA!!

Anonymous said...

it does not based the old uni, but the always best uni to get it, so usm, u r the chosen one, well done usm.... keep it up....

Anonymous said...

GO GO USM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WELL DONE!!! U DESERVE APEX UNI!!!!!!! GREAT GUYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Charis Quay said...

Anonymous, thanks, I know. I'd like to see the actual proposal and the other documents I mentioned.

Anonymous said...

USM and UM are not even in the Shanghai Jiao Tong University World Ranking 2008 Top 500 universities. Some of the Universities ranked in the Top 500 also not claiming themselves as APEX or how best they are, if so, many best best univ in the Uk,....

shinliang said...

i think they should be at least 2 Apex university. In most of the things in the world, no competition is not a good thing.

Besides, i think this will spell the slow but imminent death of UM as the best university in Malaysia.

UM has long rely on its "branding" and its attraction of most of the best students around the country (who wants to study in public local university) to stay ahead of other public Uni.

With the Apex Uni status awarded to USM, UM's advantage is no more and UM is in a very dangerous position now.

I wonder what is UM VC's response to this?

Anonymous said...

落選頂尖大學‧拉菲雅感失望‧馬大續落實改革計劃
• 國內
2008-09-04 19:44
(吉隆坡)馬大校長拿督拉菲雅強調,即使不被選為頂尖大學,馬大依然會繼續落實兩年前擬定的改革計劃,務必提升馬大的國際排名,拿下所有頒發給大學的獎項。
她說,無法成為頂尖大學必然會失望,但馬大視此為挑戰,也是際遇。
“經歷挫敗後,馬大全體上下更努力。我們現在已走在國內其他大學的前端,若全體教職員維持現有的奮鬥精神,我有信心,馬大能繼續領先其他大學。”
拉菲雅今日(週四,3日)接受《星洲日報》詢問時表示,馬大兩年前推行的改革計劃已經帶來成果,被評為國內五星級大學就是其中一項成就。
她表示,馬大已成為倍受信賴的品牌,因此,它不會放慢發展步伐。
詢及日後會不會再爭取成為頂尖大學時,拉菲雅說,她暫時還不清楚,畢竟這不是必要的事;她也恭賀理大中選為頂尖大學。
理大6年前推行轉型計劃
另一方面,理大校長丹斯里祖基菲里說,獲得頂尖大學地位,是理大最佳的生日禮物,理大將於明年迎來40歲生日。
他說,理大自6年前起就推行轉型計劃,並希望通過本身的自主權來改善培訓、資源和行政3大方面的情況。
他也說,理大已為2009至2013年申請額外8億3千萬令吉撥款。
星洲日報‧2008.09.04

These are what she responsed!

As many students from UM said, management team in UM should change their attitude and re-think about their planning.

zack said...

Well we can say whatever we want whether the ranking of UM is overrated than any other local universities or USM has done more research than any other local universities. The fact is we need the black and white evidence. I can even say that MIT is even better than Havard despite the fact that Havard is consistently ranked as No. 1 in THES and Shanghai Jiaotong ranking every year. The list can go on and it doesn't matter whether you are pro USM or pro UM. Now, USM is given Apex status and there will be more pressure on them to establish themselve to be the premier University of Malaysia. THES ranking for 2008 may continue to rank UM better than any other local universities but in year 2009 or 2010, don't be surprise if UKM, UPM or even UTM outrank any other local universities in Malaysia. By then, if USM does not live up to the expectation, then it will be blamed like what UM had experienced in year 2006. The challenge for APEX university is that it has to establish itself as number one in Malaysia and on par with established universities like NUS, NTU, ANU and University of Tokyo within 5 years time. I will salute any local University if it can establish its reputation like that of University of Tokyo which is consistently ranked as Top 20 Universities in the world be it THES or Shanghai Jiaotong rankings. Despite being an Asian University, University of Tokyo consistently prove to the world every year that it is the best University in Asia and one of the best in the world. Perhaps, we should learn something from the Japanese instead of arguing which University is the best 'Jaguh Kampung'.

zack said...

Well we can say whatever we want whether the ranking of UM is overrated than any other local universities or USM has done more research than any other local universities. The fact is we need the black and white evidence. I can even say that MIT is even better than Havard despite the fact that Havard is consistently ranked as No. 1 in THES and Shanghai Jiaotong ranking every year. The list can go on and it doesn't matter whether you are pro USM or pro UM. Now, USM is given Apex status and there will be more pressure on them to establish themselve to be the premier University of Malaysia. THES ranking for 2008 may continue to rank UM better than any other local universities but in year 2009 or 2010, don't be surprise if UKM, UPM or even UTM outrank any other local universities in Malaysia. By then, if USM does not live up to the expectation, then it will be blamed like what UM had experienced in year 2006. The challenge for APEX university is that it has to establish itself as number one in Malaysia and on par with established universities like NUS, NTU, ANU and University of Tokyo within 5 years time. I will salute any local University if it can establish its reputation like that of University of Tokyo which is consistently ranked as Top 20 Universities in the world be it THES or Shanghai Jiaotong rankings. Despite being an Asian University, University of Tokyo consistently prove to the world every year that it is the best University in Asia and one of the best in the world. Perhaps, we should learn something from the Japanese instead of arguing which University is the best 'Jaguh Kampung'.

Tempinis said...

http://tempinis.wordpress.com/2008/09/06/why-choose-usm-over-um/

I have done a preliminary search on a leading database comparing the number of papers published by each institution. Perhaps, others can use it as a starting point and improve on it and Tony Pua can put this question to Khaled Nordin on the methodology used in selecting USM as an apex university in Parliament.

Anonymous said...

Whatever it is Apex or it is not. The only way to improve our local university academic standard and international recognition is, talk less but do more.

Anonymous said...

besides arguing about whether um or usm is better, maybe we should ask why usm is only given 3star status in the recent ranking (um is 4 or 5, i think) but is now apex university. both are local grading systems...which one is false?

Anonymous said...

Bikin malu aje dgn status apex. sekarang ni hangatlah kerana baru ditauliah, bila lama dan masih tidak diiktiraf dalam ranking dunia top 200, banyak yang akan burukkan usm.lagi malu. sepatutnya dasar kerajaan terhadap ipta mesti berdasarkan sistem siapa yang bijak dan pandai sahaja diambl belajar. jadikan ia betul betul status apex, janganlah apex umno. bekas penuntut usm

Anonymous said...

UITM should be the APEX university, not UM or USM because UITM is world clas university

Zack said...

THES QS world university rankings 2008 will be released on 9th October 2008. Every year, top Malaysian Universities are alerted by the ranking. A drop in a malaysian University ranking will of course be accompanied by harsh criticism by the public. In 2007, UM, USM, UM, UPM and UTM were ranked 246, 307, 309 and 416 respectively in THES ranking. What about this year? Will USM be ranked the best Malaysian University in THES 2008 ranking after receiving APEX university status eliminating other local Universities? Will USM get into top 200 THES world class Universities in 2008? We will see what happen. Looking at the ranking, eyes of the Malaysian public will of course be focused on our newly crowned APEX university.