Friday, August 12, 2005

Lecturers May Get to Retire @ 66

In a report in the Star on 22nd July, the Ministry of Higher Education announced that it is planning to increase the retirement age for university lecturers from the present 56 to 66.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Salleh said many quarters said professors and lecturers were still capable and “full of energy” when they reached the current retirement age. "We are looking at increasing their retirement age so that they get to retire at the same age as judges now."
The call has also been supported by the Sultan of Perak and Chancellor of Universiti Malaya, Sultan Azlan Shah at a convention held at UM two days ago. Read Berita Harian report here.
"Tenaga pengajar berpengalaman, keupayaan melakukan penyelidikan, prestasi menghasilkan penerbitan dan rekod sebagai pakar rujuk dan perunding adalah komponen yang menentukan tahap kemampuan dan kematangan.

Adalah satu kerugian besar jika mereka yang sudah mencapai tahap kematangan ini meninggalkan universiti awam kerana wajib bersara tetapi selepas itu disambut universiti swasta dengan hamparan permaidani merah.

Negara perlu mengambil langkah bijak supaya tidak wujud jurang mutu pendidikan serta pengajaran antara institusi pengajian tinggi awam dan swasta kerana ia memberi kesan negatif terhadap agenda sosioekonomi nasional."
The policy to extend the age of lecturers in our universities should be fully supported as many of these lecturers continue to possess a sound and critical mind and will be fully able to impart their knowledge and experiences to the undergraduates and postgraduates. In fact, in most of the top universities of the world, there is not "official" retirement age - the academics are offered extensions to their contracts as long as they continue to publish valuable research and continues to be able to impart their wisdom to the students. Many of the research published by these academics above the age of 56 also represent some of their finest work, a testament to their knowledge and experience over the years. I've definitely had my share of prominent lecturers and academics over the age of 56 who taught me well during my studies at Oxford. Why in fact should there be a strict age limit?

However, the policy of extending the age limit of the lecturers may become a farce if the purpose is purely to be able to selective extend contracts of lecturers who are politically friendly and terminate those who do not share the same views as the authorities (both in the university administration and the government). Prof Ramasamy, whom I've had the pleasure of listening to his speech appears to be "full of energy" and is fully able to contribute further to his students and University Kebangsaan Malaysia had his contract terminated this month without any reasons provided. Read his story here.

Of the new ministers appointed to the Prime Minister's cabinet since the last elections, our Minister of Higher Education has been one of the more disappointing appointments. It is hoped that Datuk Shafie Salleh will take the necessary actions to correct the wrongs in our higher education system (he has for e.g., remained totally silent on Prof Ramasamy's case to date). Otherwise, he will be missed when the Prime Minister reshuffles the cabinet in the coming months.

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