Monday, August 14, 2006

We need to prioritise, says new UKM VC

The Star managed to nab one of the first interviews with the new VC of UKM, Prof Datuk Dr Sharifah Hapsah Syed Hasan Shahabudin. There wasn't much I could glean from this interview in regards to her big 'vision' for UKM but these few remarks struck me as indicative of one of the new VC's key challenges.

“When I go into office at UKM, my first task will be to meet the different faculty heads and identify the university’s strengths and niche areas. We need to discuss which areas need to be pushed very fast and what can afford to wait.

“We need to prioritise. We can’t do everything at once, you’re bound to fail, but everyone needs to feel assured that their area will be expanded or developed,” she explains.

I think she's absolutely right that UKM should push its strengths and niche areas forward instead of wanting everything to be put in the forefront. Identifying these niche areas will be the tricky part since everyone will lobby her that THEIR area is an area of strength and worthy of additional attention and funding.

If I were the new VC, I'd focus on two criteria to ascertain the potential of a faculty. Firstly, I'd look at the publishing record of the senior academic staff of each faculty. The ones with the highest number of published works in respected journals or in book form should get my attention. Secondly, to identify faculties which have a lot of promising young talent, I would look at the % of a faculty who have recently acquired their PhDs from foreign universities, especially reputable ones. This is an indication of how much 'young blood' there is to help push the faculty forward.

I know that these criterion might seem mutually exclusive. It may be so in some cases for example in faculties where there are a lot of senior academics with good publishing records but not many junior academics who have just entered into the system. But in other faculties, it may be the case where you have some good senior academic staff who are well published and have also managed to attract some good junior staff into their faculties.

The important point here is that she should use some objective measures to ascertain the strength and potential of a faculty, not the 'lobbying' strength of the head or dean of that faculty.

There is a tricky balancing act - that you cannot afford to alienate those faculties which you do not deem worthy of additional attention and funding. The 'politics' of this game is important if you want to keep your job and not have people trying to sabotage you at every corner.

I wish her all the best in trying to achieve this tricky balance - the need for change and focus, and at the same time not to alienate too many people so as to make her job of change almost impossible.


Anonymous said...

New broom always sweep clean...
give it some time...and you will see nothing comes out of it!

Big sounding words and promises just like the new politicians taking office...give it sometimes and see..

Tony, I have stayed in this country long enough and get involved in its education system...I see no future! No changes!
But who knows miracle might happened! ( but seriously I doubt it)

Anonymous said...

Human, especially those in Malaysia, always have this kind of "hoping too much" symptoms whenever there are changes in leaderships. But in the end, we are back to square zero after all those sweet promises. Are we two years old kids that will stop crying when given sweets? We have been blind for almost 50 years, and i am sure we are doing the same for another 50 years, and perhaps forever. So why talk and discuss things happening in Malaysia when we can't changed anything? That is such a waste of time and effort. I rather go for a holiday in Phuket or Bali.

Anonymous said...

cakap salah tak cakap pun salah. hantam here hantam there hantam everywhere

Anonymous said...

Tapi, nanti kalau kita tak cakap, bila nasi sudah jadi bubur, mereka salahkan kita kerana tak cakap.

Sekurang2 kita cakap,so kalo ada salah kita blame dia orang lah.
Mcm itu Coliseum cinema, kalo kita tak buat bising, itu cinema sudah jadi another white elephant project. Sekarang itu coliseum gomen tarak ambil, semua india dan sany vellu byk happy sebab ini deepavali masih bolih tengok rajhnikanth in action...hehe


Anonymous said...

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