In a poorly worded statement littered with 'suspect' English - UM showcased its 'Alumni of Great Fame'. On the advertisement, you'll find pictures of almost half the cabinet ministers and 4 menteri besars. Interestingly, next to the larger picture of our Prime Minister, Dato' Seri Abdullah Badawi, you'll find a large mugshot of our Minister of Higher Education, Dato' Dr Haji Shafie Mohd Salleh. Whoever did the Photoshop editing for the composite image should probably be shot.
The fact that the advertisement is an absolute waste of university funds should be bad enough. (See also earlier post on "Thick-Skinned Academics"). But you should read the statement and decide if UM have done itself justice.
For a century, University of Malaya has practised and will continue to practise a code of excellence in the pursuit of knowledge. It has contributed immensely to the building of this nation like no other. UM has produced more than one hundred thousand graduates in various fields, who have gone to serve the nation with outstanding achievements and dedications. The Prime Minister of Malaysia YAB Dato' Seri Abdullah Hj Ahmad Badawi tops the list. Almost half of the Cabinet Members and four Menteri Besar are UM Alumni.Then at the bottom of the advertisement, it was added that:
Truly, the University of Malaya has and will continue to serve the country with excellence.
In 2004, UM was placed 89th in the 'University World Ranking' by The TIMES of LONDON. YAB Deputy Prime Minister earlier this year has challenged UM to be among the 50 best universities by 2020. To achieve this target, UM has to improve its position by 2.6 places each year. What is UM's position for 2005? Wait and see in November this year!!!Either the university has received some inside information that its placement will improve in this year's university rankings table by the Times Higher Education Supplement (not “The TIMES of LONDON”) or its really setting itself up for a major Humpty Dumpty moment.
It’s just amazing how we have a culture of celebrating mediocrity by proclaiming it to be monumental achievements. Being placed 89th is a commendable achievement, but it’s definitely not something to shout out loud about. And that’s actually before, we analysed the “real reasons” why the university was placed in such “lofty heights”. The university officials should just cross their fingers that the ranking compilers at the Times Higher Education Supplement do not figure out the potential errors in the ranking of Malaysian universities to save themselves from some major embarrassment in just 2 months time.
Even if UM wants to scream at the top of its lungs the achievements of the university over the past 100 years, it should focus on its academic and education achievements. For example, what are the prestigious international awards it has received? What are the breakthrough scientific research produced by the UM academic and research community? What are the percentage of graduates gaining employment within a period of 6 months? Those will be regarded as the real achievements of a top university – and not whether the Federal Territories Minister, Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad is an alumni of the university.