Wednesday, July 12, 2006

RM1.2bil Fund for PhD Studies

The Star reported that the Government is allocating RM1.2bil under the 9th Malaysia Plan for lecturers in public institutions of higher learning (IPTAs) to pursue doctorate (PhD) studies locally and abroad.
Higher Education parliamentary secretary Datuk Dr Adham Baba said the allocation was for 6,700 scholarships, of which 35% was to be done locally, 5% abroad and the rest under split programmes.

The Government targeted 60% of IPTA lecturers to be PhD holders by 2010, he said, adding that at present, only 30% out of the 19,615 lecturers had the qualification.
It is great news to hear that such a large amount of funds have been allocated to upgrading our academics in our public institutions.

However, there's the additional question which I'm sure Kian Ming will write about at some point in time, and this was discussed during our blog meet up a week or so ago, once he gets some decent internet access :).

I understand during our blog meet up (which I've yet to blog about :)), and a comment from one of our readers earlier that there are 3 schemes which academics can apply to for the purposes of obtaining funds to pursue their doctorates:
  1. Skim Latihan Akademik Bumiputera (SLAB)

    SLAB is exclusive scheme for bumiputeras only. This is the preferred choice by local universities and is commonly found advertised in local newspapers.

  2. Academic Staff Higher Education Scheme (ASHES)

    ASHES is for current lecturers who have given at least 3 years (teaching) service at university.

  3. Academic Staff Training Scheme (ASTS)

    ASTS is open for all. Anyone with good first degree CGPA (>3.00) is eligible. Applicants are not required to have contributed academically (e.g teaching) when applying for this scheme.
ASHES and ASTS are the routes available for a non-bumiputera interested in securing financial assitance and joining the local university as academic staff. It is understood that non- bumiputeras form only approximately 10% of ASTS receipients.

What is however, damning about the system is the injustice meted out to non-bumiputera receipients of the ASTS scheme, particularly for overseas programmes.

According to the reader who was also an ASTS receipient,
For overseas funding, a bumiputera recipient under ASTS receive full financial assistance (tuition fee, living costs, housing-family-book-thesis-winter allowances).

A non bumi will receive everything EXCEPT the tuition fee (this is the recent tweak of sponsorship agreement). Non bumi will have to seek funding elsewhere (which do not has any bonding).
All candidates are however bonded to the relevant academic institutions for the same period of time, irrespective of the amount sponsored. I am certain that others in the know will confirm the above as a matter of fact. The questions goes simply, and it goes beyond just a matter of blatant racial discrimination:-

Given that these non-bumiputera candidates will have to return to their respective Malaysian universities to contribute their knowledge, wisdom and expertise to the younger local Malaysians - who will include a large majority of bumiputera students, is the policy of disadvantaging non-bumiputeras here, a clear case of cutting of ones own nose to spite ones face?

By discouraging talented non-bumiputeras from pursuing further education at reputed institutions overseas, doesn't it then result in fewer qualified lecturers for the Malaysian public universities, which will then retard the local universities' abilities to provide quality education for our local undergraduates, who are largely (more than 65%) bumiputeras anyway?

What may be regarded as a discriminatory affirmative action policy to support the "weaker" majority ethnic group in the country is paradoxically and ironically, at the end of the day, resulting in the very objectives of the policy not being met. By denying the benefit to a few non-bumiputeras from further education, the higher education policy is in effect denying the delivery of better quality education to thousands of bumiputeras over the years. The impact cannot be insignificant.

Hence our politicians in parliament need to ask not just on how much is to be spent to upgrade our academics but also the rationale behind our self-defeating policies. And if you need further advice, don't hesitate to have a read of Kian Ming's earlier post on "How to Increase the % of PhDs" and "Less Than 30% of Public University Lecturers have PhDs".

You may also be interested in other reader comments on the impact of programmes such as SLAB, here and here.


Anonymous said...

I guess this is a good news to the nation's future and to all Malaysians. Even though unfairness might still exist (as long as Malaysia is still on the world map), this is far better than the allocation by the government to UiTM to create more jobless graduates. Let's hope that this RM1.2b will not end up as certain people's extra pocket money :D.

brain drainee

Anonymous said...

Good topic but tough decision ..

Wonder how the authorities do the job of matching candidates to funding sources..Any tips on how to get the funding?

Just how much does PhD study (local) cost?

a) tuition fee?
b) research costs?

..and how to increase one's chance of receiving an offer of funding?

1. besides having got good grades..

2. besides giving the people who are writing your references reasons to be impressed with your abilities..

3. what else?

Research proposal in specific areas important? ie what are the popular research areas that normally benefit from the funding sources? much to think about..

..inspired :)

Anonymous said...

Learn From History
Ways your comment on this very interesting topic?

Looking forward to your view :))

Anonymous said...

It's not true, all of my Chinese colleague (Tutor) got fully sponsorship(tuition fee, living costs, housing-family-book-thesis-winter allowances) who are doing in distinguished university, such Cambridge and Berkely in US. Dont rely only one person statement lor.... Physics Department, UPM

Anonymous said...

Albert Einstein grand's son, you are one of those pursuing PhD? Gosh, your English is broken. Can't even get "Berkeley" and your nick right......


Anonymous said...

btw.. to sidetrack a bit..

did any1 notice the Diploma in Football Studies advertisement of Cyberlynx International College a few days ago?


Anonymous said...

its the tuition fees that you want them to cover
cuz the other fees are like... made for the year1969.
just imagine, for an australian based student, to get 580++ monthly is a disgrace when the rent there is like 200++ per WEEK!
The salary is still going in Malaysia, yes. But someitmes, it gets all washed away... and at times, a deficit is at hand.

They need to review the SLAB.

Oh, now they have the SLAM? Skim Latihn Akademik Malaysia under the 9th Malaysia plan? The name tweak, I guess, was made to compensate for the short comings of the politically-sensitive word Bumiputera. Malaysia would cover eveyone I guess. But still, you might want to get attached to a local uni for a better shot at it.

IN all... tweak the living expenses oh not so smart people at the MOHE!