Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Walk-In Interviews for PhD Holders

Hey guys, as highlighted in my post on my own blog, much apologies for having been neglecting my blogging responsibilites for the past few weeks. The new "career" is certainly dragging me all over the place and leaves me very little time to plonk myself for long periods of time in front of the computer to churn out something meaningful (and I'd hate posting something quickly just for the sake of posting). There's lots of stuff to blog about, and I'll try to catch up with them in the coming weeks. Hopefully this post will kickstart the action on this blog again! ;)

First, I thought I'd highlight a peculiar advertisement made by the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) recently to attract more PhD holders into our public institutions of higher learning (IPTAs).

The good news is, the Ministry appears to be taking steps to increase the number of PhD holders amongst our university teaching community. But the curious thing is the approach which the Ministry has taken to meet its objectives - that is, via open walk-in interviews! You can read the statement issued by Pn Rubaayah Osman, a public relations officer of the Ministry here.
Temuduga pengambilan tenaga akademik secara berpusat bagi calon-calon yang memiliki Ijazah Doktor Falsafah (PhD) akan diadakan pada 26-28hb Mei 2007 mulai jam 9.00 pagi hingga 4.00 petang di Aras 2, Stesen Sentral, Kuala Lumpur.
This method of recruitment of PhD holders raises several questions.
  1. It appears that these PhD holders are treated a little like factory workers who are asked to turn up at a specific location and just wait for his or her turn to be called. If there are a lot of people, then one would just have to wait a couple of hours longer.

    Given the above, do we expect quality PhD candidates from top universities globally to be interested in turning up for these interviews and be treated as such?

    And by default, through adverse selection, would such interview proceedings lead to weaker candidates who are not able to otherwise secure academic appointments in other leading colleges making an appearance?

  2. And secondly, it also raises the key question as to why the Ministry has to take the role of the recruiter, instead of the respective faculties within the universities themselves?

    Does the Ministry has the necessary wide-ranging expertise to interview candidates of all specialisation on the spot? How could intelligent discussions be held if the relevant experts are not present to discuss the relevant subjects?

    Worse, if the civil service administrators are playing the role of recruiters, would they even sufficiently understand university demands of lecturers and researchers?

    And if these potential candidates are just required to turn up to submit their documents, instead of a thorough interview, wouldn't it have been better to request that they submit their applications either online or by post first so that the right expertise can be arrange to conduct the interviews. Otherwise, for many of these candidates who may well be outstation, would have to travel long distances just for a meaningless interview exercise.

  3. Finally, should the role of recruitment to left to the relevant universities to decide? Is there no more autonomy in our universities to decide on their own recruitment?

    Would these new recruits, once posted to the universities, be subjected to "marginalisation" from the existing lecturers?
Hence in a lot of ways, the above exercise, just doesn't make much sense. Which of course leads to plenty of conjectures and speculations. And here is my 2-cent worth of conjectures:
  1. Firstly, the University recruiters are reluctant to recruit qualified PhD candidates as lecturers in their universities. The reluctance is understandable in that the decline in the quality of our local universities over the past 2 decades have resulted in many unqualified and poor quality academics occupying positions of "power" within the university administration. As the patronage culture within the universities become ingrained, appointment of top quality academics, most of which are PhD holders become scarce for such appointments would be detrimental to their own positions.

    Hence, the Ministry while recognises the need for more PhD holders to be academics in our IPTAs, things are not moving on the ground. MOHE which lacks the political will to force reforms within the universities, then decides to take the less painful route of recruiting these PhD holders directly for placement in the universities.

  2. Secondly, it was also very very interesting to note that the statement released by MOHE specifically mentioned that:

    Bagi calon calon... yang mempunyai pengalaman kerja di sektor kerajaan atau industri amat dialu-alukan terutamanya di kalangan bukan bumiputra.

    I am very encouraged by the action taken by MOHE for it is certainly extremely rare for Government recruitment advertisements encouraging applicants from non-bumiputras, instead of otherwise. It is a clear recognition that there is a drastic shortage of non-bumiputras in our public institutions of higher learning.

    However, when this is reflected with the earlier point, it lends credence to the fact that not only are the incumbent university authorities not recruiting sufficient PhD holders, they are also biaised against the recruitment of non-bumiputras, making it necessary for the unprecendented move by MOHE to step into the recruitment process to "remedy" the shortcomings.
That then leaves the question (which I don't have a definite answer for) of whether, such centralised recruitment exercise to overcome the shortcomings of the current recruitment processes is the best possible mechanism.

Will the new recruitment process bring unexpected and other detrimental side effects? Or will it even attract the quality PhD holders which it seeks to do?


Anonymous said...

Another 'gimmick' to contribute to the feel good factor before election date is announced.

As it is I heard many PhD graduates in this blog trying to apply for teaching positions in the local universities but were denied or given the ' silence' treatment.

Just another 'wayang kulit' I guessed ;))

Anonymous said...

I am disappointed that the highly qualified prospective applicants with PhDs (as if the mass recruitments will go on smoothly) are going to be treated 'condescendingly' by going thru all these hassles of ridiculous recruitment process by dubious and questionable civil servants. It's no wonder that the quality candidates have shunned the IPTAs all these years. As Tony has pointed out, what's happened to the autonomy of our public universities? It's sad to note that the liberties of professional academics are still fettered and bounded by repressive civil practices like other civil servants.

Anonymous said...

This is the first time I heard about such a ridiculous way of recruiting faculty. It's not only that the qualification of the recruiter is questionable but also whether a high qulified people is willing to go through all the hassle. If you want to recruit high quality people, do it in a more professional way. Also, the interview is held in KL meaning that it's most likely to attract just the local PhD holder but not the brain from oversea. I just wondering, do they even need to have CV for interview these days ?!?! Just weird

Anonymous said...>1=9984

Is the Ivy League "Worth It"?
by Donald Asher

Right now, all over the country, high school students and their parents are scheming to get into the Ivy League. Young people are groomed practically from birth to be attractive to mysterious and all-powerful admissions committees guarding the gates of the eight universities that comprise the Ivies. Articles and books are written on packaging strategies, which classes and activities are "in" and which are now "passé," which provide an edge, and which might harm a student's chances.

There is even a psychological malady known as The Yale Syndrome, a sort of obsession with college admission that creates an unusually proximate time horizon for a young person, the moment of college admission. Students who suffer from this affliction do not develop a plan for success in college, or in any aspect of their lives, beyond the arrival of that "fat envelope" detailing their acceptance. Oddly, they share many of the same concepts of time as terminally ill cancer patients.

Parents view admission to one of these schools as a high grade on their parenting skills, and correspondingly view rejection as a low or failing grade. There is a great gnashing of teeth about the whole endeavor. But seldom does anyone really ask the question: Is the Ivy League "worth it"?

How did this national obsession come about? First, let's define what the Ivy League is. In one sense, the Ivy League is a collection of geographically proximate schools that formed a football conference in 1956. If you look at it another way, the Ivy League is a collective brand representing the pinnacle of American higher education. This is the Ivy League: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale. No other school is a member, in spite of what some alumni may mistakenly claim.

The Ivy League has not been a focus of fevered longing for very long. For most of this nation's history, college was a local endeavor. The best and the brightest did not go far to go to college. Then, a convergence of societal trends in the late part of the last century quietly nationalized education, without anyone really noticing. The advent of cheap air travel--and the breakdown of regional differences due to television and the migration of educated workers throughout the country--combined to make bright young people look nationally for college choices. So this collection of venerable schools became a focus of their attentions. The problem is that young people and their families didn't catch on to the level of competition that this change entailed.

As college became a middle-class right instead of an upper-class privilege, a lot more students wanted in to what they perceived to be the most elite schools. One Ivy League school now rejects over 90 percent of the students who apply, and rejects over half of the students who apply with perfect SAT scores. Think about that.

That's where we are today. Everyone in the country wants into the same handful of schools. But what do you get with an Ivy League education, especially as an undergraduate? Is it really the best in the country? These are undeniably good schools, but there are also by my count at least one hundred other schools that do as good or better a job at educating undergraduates. Here's why:

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Most Ivy League schools are primarily graduate schools
Large research universities are great places to be a graduate student, and sometimes not-so-great places to be an undergraduate. Alton O. Roberts, a retired professor and an Ivy League grad himself, and formerly principal investigator for a national study of undergraduate instruction when he was with the Center for the Improvement of Instruction at Syracuse University, reports "The undergraduate at these schools is pretty much there to keep the streets paved. The money doesn't go toward the undergraduate budget. A student will face large classes, and teaching assistants instead of professors. The Ivy League degree is a brand, and there is the presumption of intelligence, the presumption of competence, but the undergraduate is not the important person at these schools." One Ivy League school was recently excoriated in a national report because only 40 percent of its classes are taught by tenure-track faculty; the rest are taught by an ad hoc collection of instructors, graduate students, and adjuncts.

Rankings of specific departments often don't favor the Ivy League
Who has the top academic departments in the United States? The most commonly cited ranking system in the United States has been totally debunked, so we won’t be quoting that one here. The National Research Council rankings are considered the gold standard, but they are at this time badly out of date. Although not without its critics, The Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index is generally accepted as a legitimate ranking system by scholars nationwide. The Ivy League shows up with some number-one rankings, but so do Penn State (anthropology), Michigan State (architecture), Indiana U. (French), NYU (mathematics), Washington U. in St. Louis (political science), and so on. The outdated NRC data has similar surprises when objective measures of quality are employed.

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Grad schools don't seem to favor Ivy League grads over others
What about admission to graduate school as an indicator of quality? The top per capita producers of Ph.D.s in this country are in fact smaller colleges, most notably, the likes of Reed, Swarthmore, Caltech, Harvey Mudd, and Grinnell, Emory, Bates, Northwestern, and Morehouse, among forty-five others. And the biggest per capita source of women scientists in the United States? Oberlin. Top producer of Black doctors? Not the Ivy League at all, but the pre-Katrina Xavier in New Orleans.

The Ivy League scares some kids to death
Some highly talented students who could get into the Ivy League might do much better to go to the honors college of a public university, according to Marty Nemko, a higher-education consultant and owner of a popular self-named career and education Web site. "You're going to be totally stressed out by the competition. The advantages might be outweighed by the disadvantages. You're not going to get to work with any professors one-on-one, which is where the real intellectual and academic development takes place, and you're not going to get a great letter of recommendation because that faculty member doesn't even know you, or she knows hundreds of other brilliant kids, too."

Nemko also points out that the Ivy League may not pass the value-added test. The Ivy League schools admit the brightest and most achievement-oriented students but, says Nemko, "You could lock these students in a closet for four years and they still would earn more than the kids who didn't get into the top schools, because they're brighter, more motivated, and have better family connections, and that has nothing to do with the Ivy League."

Cutting-edge tech employers may not be as enamored of the Ivy League brand
There certainly are still some places where an Ivy League degree is a known entry ticket, such as Wall Street, but tech firms may not care as much. Bill Watkins, director of engineering for a software consulting firm based in Colorado, has two Ivy League degrees, but that's not what he looks for when he hires engineers. "I'm looking for technical and social skills and, frankly, I don't care if it's the University of Colorado or Cornell. I'm more interested in skills than pedigree." His advice: Go to the school that gives you the best scholarship, where you can graduate with the least debt.

So, do these criticisms mean that the Ivy League doesn't offer good educational opportunities? Not at all. But there are scores of truly awesome schools in this country, many of which do an even better job of educating young undergraduates than the eight members of the Ivy League.

Anonymous said...

I'm all for autonomy among universities, but in this case, i think its great that MOHE is taking over. You know the potential for bias in university recruitments, closed door interview and such. here its going to be more open, plus its great opportunity to send our own observer team there and ask the candidates what the interview was like. I'm sick of hearing stuffs like JPA interviewers who asked who is political questions, names of ministers..blah blah

as for hiring brains from overseas, i think its better to start with brains who are already in the country but who are just deprived of opportunities to serve in public unis.

and where can i find a breakdown of lecturers composition (ehtnics) in public unis? i came from UTM, sad to say i never a saw a chinese lecturer soul there

Anonymous said...

What an excellent insight provided by the fourth anon(the encarta author to be exact). It certainly deserves a new topic of its own in this blog.

Anonymous said...

I beg your pardon, but if any PhDs actually attend these interviews then I cannot see how they are 'brains' (also PhDs equals not smart, not nowadays anyway).


Anonymous said...

How do we define people who are the "brains" and those who are not. Perhaps, it is not us to judge although we may have the freedom of raising our comments. Everyone inevitably does something for a reason. And as long as it matters to him/her, it REALLY does "matters" irrespect of how others considered it as otherwise. I don't think anyone of us would want others to comment negatively on the things that "matters" to us.

In addition, I always reminded myself the importance of being critical yet open-minded. Lest, our narrowness inhibits any forms of advancement/development or insights into matters that we are not aware of. It is also good to give others the benefit of the doubt.

I supposed if any PhD holders were to attend such event, to them, it "matters".

My gratitudes to those who have contributed constructively. Good job. Lets take this avenue seriously and share our "brains" in the manner of how we ourselves perceived good "brains" should be...

By the way, good points made by the 4th anon. Several exemplary universities in the US are not in the IV League either, but their graduates are also significantly sought after.

Anonymous said...

As a doctoral student in the US, I have observed and participated in my department's search for new assistant professors. In general, PhD graduates will send in their CVs, and if shortlisted, they will be brought it for a 2-day interview process. In those 2 days, they will have numerous meetings (including lunch and dinner) with the Dean, the Dept Chair, professors in the dept, and also doctoral students. They will have to present their dissertation research, followed by a Q&A session, and these presentations are open to the whole college. And after this, from the Dean to the doctoral students, everyone will be asked to evaluate the candidates. A very intensive and expensive process for the university.

I intend to return to Malaysia when I finally receive my Ph.D. I don't know what the search procedure is like at local universities, but if it requires me to spend several hours at "Stesen Sentral", I'll do it.

Anonymous said...

Well, at least this is where all candidates have an equal chance to be interviewed. Not something like sending your CV to the IPTAs and got lost in the 'dark hole'. Yes, a weird plan, but at least 'we' see daylight.

Florence Lim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Florence Lim said...

In response to alisa’s post, you may want to browse the individual websites of local university to identify the department(s) which you deemed as relevant to your advancement. Then, try to contact the key person and find out from him/her the best fit approach to apply for a position there. Sometimes, you don’t have to wait for any official advertisements, especially when they’re short of staff. Otherwise, you could also try to check on their recruitment pages (Some university do post their advertisements online) or try Utusan newspaper (Sunday edition).

For instance, USM uses the e-recruit system. In my opinion, nothing compares to personal communication. In fact, you can start communicating with these people prior to your return.

In fact, this is a good period of time for PhD holders because the government and several universities have highlighted their revised policies in recruitment - to employ only PhD holders. Apart from that, there’s a trend towards encouraging academic staff to explore research opportunities/interest (significant and innovative research and not redoing what others had done) in hope to improve the market value of research interest and attract sponsors from private sectors.

Good luck

Anonymous said...

When you say MOHE is organising the interviews, does it mean it would not be representatives of the individual universities interviewing you there?

If it is so, MOHE is just providing the physical facilities as its the respective universities and its admin policy deciding the result of the interview!

hehe.....dont be too hopeful laaa....certain policies in this country dont change and will you trust 100% wat the politicians say?

Anonymous said...

Do we need more PhD holders? Based on the comments appeared in this blog, I will probably say that no. Why? Very simple some of us discriminate against ourselves!!! Some of comments had stated how many “local” staff teaching in the branch campus of foreign universities; these foreign campuses have low percentage of “foreign” staff. If we do not believe in the quality of training obtained by the Malaysian PhD holders, then why we should have more of them. Some of the Malaysians actually do not believe in the capabilities of Malaysians PhD holders. This is really sad. You probably have to visit the following webpage to know more about the success stories of Malaysian PhD holders:

Further, is it mean that more foreigners the better the quality? Are some of us implying that a “white” with a PhD from ABC University is better than a Malaysian with PhD let say University of Sydney?

Anonymous said...

Come on people, do you think you can simply get the best brains by just going to the train station?

Another episode that makes us the laughing stock of the world. I hope our neighbour across the causeway will pick up this story so that we can be further ridiculed!

Do you know how difficult it is for candidates with a PhD to get a faculty jobs overseas? I mean at least that of a tenure-track position. One needs to show significant progress that includes top-notch publications, several years of postdoctoral training and some form of international recognition. Publications I mean that in Nature or Science. At least,if not those, then those with good impact factors in the Science Citation Index. This is how difficult it is to secure an academician post.

Here in our country, just simply walk-in and get an interview. Perhaps, to save the MoHE time, why not get the Jabatan Buruh/Labour Department to do the hiring. We can a road show around the country. As I am from Terengganu, perhaps we can start from Pasar Besar Kedai Payang? The same goes for Kota Baru- the Pasar Besar is a good place. Then we travel one big circle (including Sabah and Sarawak) before stoppping at Queensbay Mall, Bayan Baru Penang?

How's that?

Gua sangat malu!

Unknown said...

In response to the comments made here and also ailsa,

1) Representatives from all the unis will be there. Its will be some sort of screening process; pls take note that although the main objective is to find PhD however master and degree holders (3.0 and above) will also be interviewed.

We expect PhD candidates to come for interview as well.

I will be there interviewing as reps from a uni.

2)The panel will recommend to the board of academics, who will check credentials. Validity of degree and so on.

3) If one pass (2) then you will be called for another interview. This depend on unis. Here one must present a mock 45 min lecture on your chosen topic to member of the intended dept. Depending on your topic, the dept. like to listen on how you defend the topic. Then you it will be followed by interview by the mgt who will have the feedback of staff member.

Unless you have excellent publication or industrial exposure then u will start at a very basic level. If u have published in high impact journals obviously you will get a higher post.

Anonymous said...


Are foreign university graduates not eligible for the KPT doctoral scholarship, since in the advertisement it is said that only "sarjana" holders from local universities are eligible to apply?


Anonymous said...


Why bother finding new PhD holders when good existing lecturers contracts are not extended?

Asking the candidates to give 'lectures' to the board of interviewers? hehe...lots of senior lecturers and professors in the local universities cant even give a decent lecture and as mentioned cant even publish in eminent journals...

Please laaa.... the bloggers here are not that dumb or not aware of the current situation..

This exercise is just another incredible joke. I suggest have the interviews at pasar malams..

Anonymous said...

I am again cautiously optimistic. For those who are questioning this way of doing things, I'll point out (as Kian Ming has already) that we are dealing with a highly centralised higher education system here such as I have not seen in any other country. It's questionable how much individual unis, faculties or departments could do even if they wanted to do something. Whether or not this centralised framework is good is relevant but this is not immediately the most relevant question. As the system is, change has to come from the top. Whether power will be devolved in future (as I hope it will) is a seperate issue. One must start from where one is and not from some abstract utopia.

Kian Ming, to your comment about people being outstation, I note that one can send in applications as well.

It was a bit worrisome that administrators will be the interviewers but I'm glad that En. Amir has clarified that there will be review by academics.

What is more worrisome is that it's not clear how the candidates will be able to evaluate the unis/departments. The MOHE needs to understand that unlike most jobs in the civil service the interview here will have to be a mutual evaluation sort of thing. If I were a candidate, I would worry about the fact that it is not clear if I would have a chance to look at the uni/dept and meet possible future colleagues not to mention possible future students. This is a problem in general but it will be particularly grave for people coming from overseas as most Malaysian departments are not well-connected to the global academic rumour mill.

On the whole, I would say that this is a step in the right direction. It is a good faith effort by MOHE to recruit good people. If these sorts of steps are sustained over time, perceptions might change. The things to worry about are (a) how to tweak the recruitment system to perhaps eventually hand it over to departments/faculties, (b) how to give candidates a chance to look at what they are getting into and (c) what they will find when they get such a chance. :-P

On a personal note, to the first anon (and as Kian Ming knows), I have had almost without exception pleasant interactions with Malaysian unis and have never been given the cold shoulder. Of course the sample size is small.

Anonymous said...

P.S. Sorry, I thought Kian Ming wrote this but it looks like it was Tony.

Anonymous said...

At least the MOHE is moving in the right direction. Also should thank amir for replying to the comments, it is very kind of him.

Anonymous said...

instead of taking the passive way of opening their doors and waiting for people to "walk-in", they should act more proactive by "going out seeking" for people with the qualification.


Anonymous said...

I noticed from the postings that those not looking for jobs found this open interview a bit strange, but those about to graduate and looking for jobs are very much in favor of this mode of interview. As for me, I have seen job fairs at conferences and meetings but never come across faculty job interview like this.
Malaysia must have a lot of unemployed PhDs walking around. Otherwise, it would be a futile effort to get anybody to come. I also noticed from some posters here that it appears to be tough nowaday looking for jobs even in the US. So, everybody appears to be looking to come home to Malaysia.
From Amir's comments, I wonder why bother with this open interview if there is a formal interview at the departmental and university level. All these formal applications and short-listings can be done through the mails.
Normally, in our hiring process, we try not to waste the time of those weak applicants or give them false hope by requiring them to come for an interview. We evaluate from the resumes first which is non-discriminatory and truly merit-based as we do not know how the person looks like.
But with this open interview, good look or charisma suddenly becomes an added advantage. Technical expertise may be of secondary importance.

Anonymous said...

This is tangential, but to the last anon, it's my impression that most humanities departments conduct interviews at MLA (the Modern Language Association conference - not sure what the full name is) and similar more specialised conferences; however they are not open interviews. You submit a comprehensive application beforehand and perhaps a dozen to twenty people will be interviwed during the conference. Shortlisted candidates then visit the campus for a 1-2 day 'interview'.

I agree though that it may not be the best idea to give everyone an interview who wants one. Still, if that turns out to be irritating this time, presumably MOHE can tweak it next time.

Anonymous said...

This move is very encouraging though it does undermine the recruitment process, 'walk-in interviews for PhD' is unheard of really. I guess the respective IPTA and IPTS HR department are not doing their job, and they don't have the expertise nor the attitude to do so.
This is my personal and real experience: I had submitted my 10 copies of thesis for correction to my external and internal examiner. I have waited for 2 months, but still no news about my VIVA.
On one fine day, my foreign MSc. colleague, forgot his Malay title for his thesis, so he got the list of MSc. titles of every postgraduate from the respective faculty PIC on postgrads. Being a busybody I flipped through the pages, and found that the external examiner stated in the list was not the one my supervisor mentioned to me (we are not supposed to know, but luckily he told me), meaning they had sent my thesis copies to the wrong supervisor in the wrong university! In the end I had to print another color copy for the faculty, and they sent it by courier to the right examiner. No use, cause I have waited at least one month in vain for nothing.
With this kind of administration quality, I doubt that they can employ and keep their manpower in tact, let alone interviewing them. Even though MOHE conducts this interview with professionalism, when the people goes to their respective faculty for work, they will be largely disappointed. Unless a major overhaul of staff is done. All is grim and grey and not well at the moment.

Anonymous said...

I want to clarify something here. No one here as really made the distinction between PhDs who conduct research and PhDs who teach. What are the MOHE's immediate priorities? The advancement of research? Or the advancement of the quality of teaching?

You can improve universities either way. But the recognition that we malaysians are pining for is on an international level. And for international recognition, we need not just quality research but GROUND-BREAKING research.

I find that people are confusing the role of a PhD. Most PhDs get their doctrates to conduct research primarily, and to educate secondarily (You have your exceptions of course). If there are already good lecturers that are already present in the system, EVEN IF they do not have a PhD, I say keep them.

I have many professors from these apparent 'top-notch' universities that can't teach shit. This guy got his PhD from the University of Virginia and everyone hates his class (which we all have to begrudginly take). Yet, he has publications that date back to the 70s that have really pioneered the ground-work for many advancements in the field of biology. Good researcher? Yes! Good teacher? Hell no.

The MOHE has to stop being disgustingly ignorant and get their priorities set first before hiring PhDs. Don't get me wrong - we NEED to hire all these awesome PhD people. But ignorance is the blackest plague that affects this country of ours. Don't think that once you hire these awesome PhD dudes, your troubles are over.

Amir Dina said...

KPT doctoral scholarship is for M'sian only. It does not matter where they get their 1st degree from.

On what grounds the foreigners contract not extended? I have come across many and in many ways such cases also thought me that I can't simply judge a person by the way he teach or present. There is also a bothersome age limits that unis have to adhere to.

You don't give lectures to board of interviewers, you give lectures to your 'peers'. Its common among academic community.

This is where the 'peer' evaluation session comes in. All member in the dept. will be there, and evaluation will be a two way process. The candidate will ask himself if he can fit in with his peers.

The meeting with the senior mgt. is for the candidate to clarify where the faculty is heading t and obviously to discuss salary etc.

Anon2 and Chris,
Most of the current faculty recruits actually come from conferences. MOHE thinks that recruiting using the current method restricts the net to ppl in academic community only. Using this method then ppl from industry might also apply for positions. We are skeptical but if it does happen why not.

Depending on choice, we have many ppl who do minimal teaching (2/3 cr) as they have many research projects. As long as they can deliver or have means to deliver then most unis will support their research. If not, then teaching loads should be evenly carried out.

However, as u all are aware in some areas the shortage of qualified staff in quantity is really acute and in the short term I don't think there will be any improvement on this matter.

Btw you cannot expect a master graduate to supervise MSc don't you? or Graduate to teach undergraduate? One who teaches must be of one level above.

Anonymous said...

There is a faculty in a prestigious university here who has supervisors with Masters degree supervising Masters students. I am not lying

Do your homework.....

I was surprised too when I learnt about this..

In UK, after a lecturer gets his PhD it takes time and he start with Honours undergrad and supervised with a senior lecturer
Next year or so will he supervise one Honours student on his own.

Those that supervise Masters or PhD candidates must have at least 5 years experience with research papers published...

Do your homework Amir....

Anonymous said...

"I have many professors from these apparent 'top-notch' universities that can't teach.."

The problem with the US research univ is that profs get rewarded for their research. If you can teach well, you don't get much reward because that is already expected of you and part of your job. Faculty members are promoted to full profs because of research not teaching. I know of many assoc profs who retire as assoc profs because they are just lecturers with no significant list of publications. In the US, saying that you do research is still not enough to be rewarded. You need to have grants because the universities are just interested in money.

The poor teaching is mainly because the profs are just lazy and ill-prepared for every class. If many students complain to the dept head and dean, that prof will shape up.

"MOHE thinks that recruiting using the current method restricts the net to ppl in academic community only. Using this method then ppl from industry might also apply for positions..."

Many ppl from industry go to major conferences too.

I think that we are destined to get just mediocre candidates no matter what methods you try. How to get top-notched candidates with this open interview? These people are busy in their research overseas and you don't expect them to be walking around.

Also, I have to admit that it will be impossible for Malaysia to match Singapore's efforts in recruiting top-notch new graduates. A recent announcement from Singapore offers $500 K research support to the lab that the new hire is joining on top of other goodies. How to match that?

Anonymous said...

Yup, it's true, I've experienced it. When I was at UM studying for my master's degree, my supervisor only had a master's degree. And the only professor with a doctorate in my field had left before I completed my studies there.

Anonymous said...

If I am not mistaken certain journals widely read by academics such as New Scientist carry out advertisements by universities looking for lecturers.

This will be be better than ' one stop centre' marketting at Central station

Anonymous said...

Two quick comments...

1. To the anon who had trouble with his/her external examiner, sorry to hear of it, but my experience is that, no matter where you are, if you don't follow up on paperwork and phone people constantly (whether it's for purchasing, getting equipment repaired, getting shipments out, getting information, uni stuff or whatever) it will fall into the black hole at the centre of the universe...

2. To the last anon, that's an excellent idea...have often wondered myself why they don't do that. For physicists here it may be that more people look at Physics Today. (I'm not sure though since I haven't been through the process. It could well be that word of mouth is most important, but I often see ads from Asian and European unis there. And definitely to zero order departments will put an ad in PT.) There is also Nature Jobs but I don't know who looks at that; perhaps others know where the good places are to advertise. I remember seeing Singapore government ads in the Cambridge alumni magsine, but also remember thinking that that seemed a bit desparate (as I suppose this move is as well).

En. Amir, thanks very much for the clarification, but perhaps MOHE could be more transparent from the beginning so people know what to expect and prepare for?

keropok lekor said...

Dear all,

I guess what is best is to keep our loud mouth and skepticism aside and hope that the interviews turn out good. Surely different people have different experiences and ideas on how recruitment should be done, but face it, we are not in MOHE, but mere bystanders.

It is a baby step MOHE and the faculty members are taking. Criticising around and assuming that our experiences are superior do not do any good here.

Anonymous said...

Ok guys, let us give MoHE the benefit of doubt this time. Although I am very skeptical of this "new" way of recruiting faculty staff (somewhat lacking the "real touch"), why don't we get people who have visited the booths to give us a feedback of what they think?

Amir has done quite a lot clarifying things for the recruitment process- I understand he is a staff of one of the participating universities.

Let us now hear what others who have actually went to KL Sentral for the walk in interview say?


Anonymous said...

hi all,
i went for the interview with some friends because it was something our supervisor asked us to try out. we were pretty sceptical about the entire thing and was already expecting a rejection.
so here's what happened. we went there, asked to fill in some forms for MOHE and take the 'test' which require us to write 2 essays, return with that essay and go to the university's booth to prepare the documents and headed to the interview room.
at the interview room, we were told to choose a faculty where the rep will interview us. i went and i got condescended. that interviewer made me looked like a clown/idiot. my friend went in after me and he asked if she is REALLY interested in their faculty because it's not fair for her to be interviewed as the the major stream of the faculty is not the same. we're in microbiology and we tried for animal science. so he didnt interview my friend, and if that's actually unfair to interview my friend, how is it fair for me?
so, my friends decided to change university and hope for a better chance, and turned out, they didnt even go through the interview which is supposed to take place during this event.
all that were told to my friends were "we will call u for interview" which they didn't say when and we informed the organizer MOHE, MOHE said that interview is SUPPOSED to be conducted within the 3 days.
we asked the uni because MOHE told us to clarify the matter with that uni, and the person at the booth just told us "WE WILL CALL YOU. Just wait." and we saw them took our resume/cv and put it on the floor, away from other forms that are going to be 'called for interview'.
it's just another stupid day, a total waste of time and paper.
Think the interview event could better pass off as recycling paper collection point than to scout for potential lecturers.

we werent expecting anything at all, and yet, we get lesser than nothing. shud have just cussed at the interviewer.

Anonymous said...

Have some of the posters here actually applied for a job before?

Let's say IBM decides to have a mass walk-in interview - would any Tom attend without trying to find out what kind of vacancies are available and in what area and why the recruiting exercise? This is even more important for a PhD hoping to become an academic because he/she is supposed to have developed a first-in-the-world expertise in a very specific area and is a competent researcher by nature. Further, I find it very strange that a PhD would apply to a department without prior finding out the strategies of the department and the subjects he/she will teach.

Since Amir has mentioned it, to me, this type of interviewing is more suited to those with first and Master's degree since they are more flexible. Their CVs are also more 'standardised' in the sense that they would have very little achievement in research/teaching in ordinary circumstances. Imagine someone reading a CV of a PhD with possibly postdoctorate experience and within a few seconds make an immediate judgement? SCARY!!!

I also cannot see how this is suited to industry people. Would you risk your present job by attending a job interview in public and with your application forms lying about carelessly (if the previous anon is correct)?

Yes I was blunt but I make no apologies for that because I feel the whole mechanics of attracting good PhD candidates to the academia is completely missing (if the objective is to attract Batchelors or Masters then that is a different cup of tea).


Anonymous said...

A recent relevant posting at the Chronicle:

Don't Just Search, Recruit
By Gary A. Olson

A prominent athletics director once told me the secret to a successful college sports program: "What separates the consistent winners from all the rest is tenacious recruiting. A faithful alumni base and state-of-the-art equipment and facilities are all wonderful, but recruiting good people is the single most essential ingredient."

That is equally true of building a first-rate academic department. You may have shiny new facilities and cutting-edge technology, but nothing will bring a program to new levels of excellence faster and more effectively than attracting and retaining first-rate people. That is why searches for both professors and administrators are among the most consequential tasks we perform.

But savvy professionals in college athletics seem to understand what many of us on the academic side often do not -- that "searching" and "recruiting" are not always the same thing.

Search committees sometimes assume they can simply place a job advertisement and sit back and wait to see which applicants emerge. It is almost as if we believe that actively pursuing candidates in the manner common to the business and sports worlds will somehow sully the rarified halls of academe.

Such passivity merely ensures mediocrity. If we are to build outstanding departments and colleges, we need to take a page from the athletics playbook and aggressively pursue the best and the brightest. Effective recruitment takes many forms and will depend on the context, but it begins with a search committee that has a clear understanding of its role in the process.

The committee's first objective is to entice top candidates to apply. That means selling the institution and the job as desirable, and it means undertaking a lot more work than some committee members may be prepared for, especially if their attitude is, "Well, if people really want the position, they will apply."

Committees aren't going to attract superior candidates by advertising in only one or two places. You might supplement your usual ads with notices in other, more specialized disciplinary forums and with announcements posted on electronic forums in the discipline.

For positions above entry-level, especially administrative ones, the committee might send personal letters inviting people to apply or to nominate others. That can be a costly enterprise because it usually entails purchasing a membership list from a disciplinary organization and incurring a hefty postage expense. Nevertheless, it is one of the most effective methods of developing a pool of good candidates, especially if the letters sent by your committee are written by someone the recipient knows personally or by reputation. Needless to say, those letters will be most effective if they appear to be genuine appeals and not form letters.

Ambitious committees should also arrange to make personal calls to a select number of potential candidates. A personal touch is particularly helpful in searches for senior faculty members and administrators.

Another option is to dispatch committee members or colleagues, armed with recruitment materials, to disciplinary conferences. Your ambassadors can disseminate information about the search and meet informally with interested parties to answer questions about the available position and the institution.

Publicizing the position in so many venues may seem redundant, but doing so ensures that the greatest number of people have the potential to see the announcement. Besides, some people may need more than one encounter with a job notice before entertaining the idea that the position might be a good fit for them. Seeing announcements in multiple forums may well convince them that the institution is serious about casting as wide a net as possible.

If the goal is to sell the position and institution to potential applicants, a Web site devoted to the search is a must.

Effective sites will contain more than a position statement and a list of committee members. The objective here is to make the site useful for the candidate, not the committee. The search site should contain links to sites that will best promote the institution and the community, so the key question to ask in constructing a site is, "If I were a first-time visitor to the institution, what information would help me understand what I might be getting into were I to accept a position here?" The search site can be an important recruitment tool, so it is wise to spend time planning and building it.

The search process is a supremely rhetorical situation. It entails determining your audience's needs and desires and devising a strategy to address them. As with any rhetorical occasion, it is important to put yourself in the place of the audience -- the candidate. If it is true that the job search is a kind of courtship, then "recruiting" means wooing. Certainly, we all like to be courted, to feel wanted, so the objective of effective recruiting is to determine how to make each candidate feel desired.

I can't count the number of times I have witnessed a search destroyed because a committee member (or in some cases an entire committee) chose to transform the search from a courtship into an inquisition. You may derive a great deal of personal satisfaction from pummeling a candidate with a barrage of "tough" questions but that is a sure way to drive off an applicant. Also inappropriate is airing the department's dirty laundry during a campus visit.

Such behavior is self-destructive and unprofessional -- and it happens all the time.

A courtship implies that both parties are looking one another over in an attempt to imagine what a long-term relationship might be like. A candidate who is given the red-carpet treatment during a campus visit is likely to develop positive feelings about the search process and the institution itself. Candidates who are badly treated will feel resentment even before an offer is tendered.

In one search I am familiar with, the organizers failed to arrange for individuals to escort candidates from one meeting to the next, and one candidate was even instructed to take the subway from her hotel to the university, even though she was unfamiliar with the city. (As luck would have it, she narrowly avoided being mugged on that ill-fated subway ride, and subsequently, had no hesitation in turning down a generous offer.)

And recruitment does not end once the finalists have visited the campus. Too often, a search committee will do a superb job up to that point and then drop the ball. It's like permitting the opposing team to rush in at the last minute and win the game even though you have been ahead from the beginning.

A provost I know once allowed a stellar dean candidate to slip through her fingers simply because she failed to understand that his original tepidly negative response to her offer was not his final word but was meant to be the first in what should have been a back-and-forth exchange. Instead, she politely thanked him for his interest in the institution and wished him well.

A skillful negotiator might have turned things around at that crucial point in the process. Rarely is an initial offer perfect -- details will need to be ironed out, responsibilities clarified, understandings forged. What at first seemed unworkable might, in the end, have been salvageable.

When I extend an offer and the candidate responds, "I'm not quite sure this is a good fit," you can be certain that my first reply will not be, "Well, at least we tried." The response should be, "What can we do to make this work for you? Is there something creative we can do to make the position more acceptable?" Often, the accommodation a candidate needs is not costly or unreasonable but simply involves rethinking the details.

Over the years, I have hired several outstanding administrators who had turned down my original offer. Because I saw my task as "recruiting" the best possible individual, I was determined to do everything within reason to land the top choice. I was not about to take "no" lightly. If the goal truly is to build a great institution, then persistence, determination, and perseverance are not optional.

Search committees need not adopt all of these measures in every search, but the general principle remains the same: If building a first-rate academic unit is like developing a successful athletics program, then the search process is our one opportunity to assemble the ideal team. That means recognizing that passive searching isn't enough.


Anonymous said...

Cant help feeling that actually our local IPTA;s are really 'over staffed' Although the % of PhD holders is still low.

Wonder with this exercise if there will be too many lecturers/ dept and ending up in a system where the teaching load will be very low.

In previous earlier blogs here, its reported that certain lecturers do not teach and are full time college masters.

If the number of lecturers are increased, will they be offered temporary contracts till the election is over?

Knowing the politics in the various local universities, will the existing staff take this intrusion of new lecturers in a 'hostile way'? Will they resist and start playing dirty politics with the end result that these new lecturers will be pressured to leave?

With the influx of new lecturers resulting in the increase in the numbers and lower teaching loads, would it mean there will be more time for canteen activities?

Anonymous said...

Did they really make the final hiring decisions at the walk-in interviews? It was reported in the Star that Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed said a total of 38 PhD holders were hired. So, it appeared the hiring process was contrary to what Amir said.

Anonymous said...

University job fair attracts big crowd (TheStar Online):

Results of the job fair:

38 - PhD holders hired
106 - Master's holders sponsored for PhD studies
63 - First-degree holders sponsored for Master studies

Total = 207 rewarded

"... police had to be called in on Saturday, the first day of the fair, to help control the crowd."
-- Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed


1. How many were there that they needed to call in the police?

2. What was the ratio of the number graduates who participated to the ones who got rewarded (207 in total)?

Amir Dina said...

There are variations on how academics are recruited. so far, there is no absolute right on the best way to do it. Mostly, like me recruited from conferences, some from on-line academic job sites. Sadly the govt. are unwilling to pay the salaries demanded from ppl who responds to New Scientist kind of advertisement (FYI - this method has also been explored by M'sian unis).

Anon & Ailsa - MSc Supervision
As I also found out here, there are variation on how supervision of MSc been done. It actually boils down to staffing (Ailsa).

the faculty limit the number of MSc student until we have sufficient number of supervisors. It is not something the the mgt likes but the faculty believe sin maintaining the standard rather than chasing the ranking.

Teaching is regulated but sadly supervision in many faculties are not.

Anon and Gerald,
There are 3 'positions' that are on offer. 1-2 is fellowships for postgraduate study (masters and PhD). They got something like conditional offer where they have to get offers from a top 5 unis in 1 yrs time.

Position 3 differs from unis to unis. Some unis are desperate enough that they offer the candidate on the spot.

To quote one of the deans 'if the candidate have PhD in 'xxx' then I will bundle him in my car and bring him to uni 'xxx' immediately.

As for many, like us we invite the potential candidate to the relevant department for a 'chit-chat session'.

Anonymous said...

Shut up Amir

Anonymous said...

Dear Amir,

I wonder how much is the salary scale for Senior Lecturer or Assoc Prof position in public university? Is it possible to appky for Assoc Prof position if one has decent research experience from overseas and good publication ? Thanks

Anonymous said...

To anon on 5/28/2007 09:16:00 AM who asked Amir to shut up, I find your comment to be offensive.

I think we need more people like Amir to post their comments on this blog. We need to know "the other side," and sometimes we need clarification.

Amir has as much right to post as others.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. En. Amir, thanks very much for posting. It is rare to see people on this blog who both know what they are talking about (have the inside story) and don't veer off on axe-grinding tangents.

Anonymous said...

P.S. To Anon above who asked about salaries, I'm not sure about the Associate Prof. salary but I would assume that it is around DS54 at present especially since it was just announced that PhDs will start at DS51 automatically. Also, given the pay rise for all civil servants recently (15% at that level I believe), it seems that the absolute number will come out to be much more than enough to live on, especially with COLA, the virtually free health care that all civil servants and their families get and other benefits.

As for your other question, I'm don't know how 'standard' it is, but I have heard of people applying. I'm sure this is something negotiable between you and MOHE and/or the department. *shrug*

Amir Dina said...

i found the basic pay scheme for IPTA lect. under DS scheme:
All the docs. is searchable using Google.

On top of that usually u will also receives 30-40% more in allowances.

Assoc. Prof start at DS53 the starting level P1-P3 and T1 - T10 is among the item that you negotiate during top mgt meeting.

Depending on the unis. to get Assoc. Prof. appointment u must have served as Senior Lect with enough publications (min. 2 int. journal, 5 int. reviewed conf. etc.etc. - score of 30 under point system) or equivalent for 5 yrs or already appointed assoc. prof. or equivalent level in the industry.

But newer unis. (KU's etc) are more relaxed in this matter.

Anonymous said...

Dear Amir,
You are indeed sporting, despite the rude anon who asked you to shut up, you still entertain queries. Syabas to you.

Anonymous said...

You forgot to add the " contribution" by holding administrative posts in getting professorships.
Come on Amir, come clean and tell all.....
It seems that is "all the king's men" that got promoted

Anonymous said...

I am getting my Aus' PhD degree in a year time, and I would not want to go for such interview, because i don't believe that those general hr personnel would be able to assess my expertise and employ me. Furthermore, it is held at Sentral station. What a joke! It's kinda makes me feel like those factory workers lining up on a long queue, while the public taking the trains is staring at the queue. What a funny yet disappointing Malaysian system.

Anonymous said...

This is not really related to the "Stesen Sentral" issue but maybe you guys would like to read the blog by Dr Irene from Exeter Univ on doing a PhD.

Could probably start a US versus UK thing again....

Anonymous said...

Sorry... blog is at:

My bad...

Amir Dina said...

Academics generally need to develop a 'thick' skin as you're being criticized all the time. Presenting your research, in discussion etc. However, one need to have a belief on what he is doing else u find yourself stressed out too soon.

In the point system 1 yr in administrative position = 1 local journal or 1/2 int. journal.
I one is a serious researcher u will avoid administrative position like some sort of plague.

Anyway I have to admit that just like in any industry bag carriers and kaki bodek somehow find their way up. Most academics can differentiate these type of Professors.

Anonymous said...

To the Anon who mentioned about "contribution"...

The standard is contribution to department or university counts 10% towards promotion. This is pretty standard even in tenure track positions in top US universities. They refer to it as services. You don't have to hold big posts (e.g., head, dean, etc). Even if you hold small posts (e.g., course coordinator or final project coordinator) you'll get some points.

The problem with the Malaysian system is that it is not transparent. Such that you can have people circumvent the criteria depending on how "on good terms" they are with upper management. Naturally, if you hold "higher-level" positions you'll get to be closer to the upper management, and thus, can probably sidestep the publication requirements.

I think the criteria we have is there for promotion, and it is quite standard as compared to universities abroad. Unfortunately, the implementation is lacking in transparency. We end up with people with very marginal publications being promoted because they hold "important positions" in the faculty, and can rub shoulders more frequently with the VCs.

Anonymous said...

If what amir said about the promotion system is true, there'll be a lot of associate professors around because you just need two international papers plus others stuff and the points are accumulated - I think it is not difficult to achieve within 3-5 years - but many a time, we just do not see this happen (in non-bumis) - largely due to lack of transparency in the promotion system, and plus 'other factors' (like being in the 'right' companies, etc).

Anonymous said...

A question for En. Amir or anyone else who knows...I'm curious:

1. You mentioned that the plan is not to attract people who would respond to ads in the New Scientist. Who were being targetted in this exercise? How does that fit into the grand plan for our higher education right now if there is one?

2. Did the recruitment exercise meet its objectives?


Anonymous said...

Tell me is it fair giving "points" to those "et als" who dont really contribute to the paper?
"piggy backing" is so common nowadays and ...the board of interviewers should ascertain that those et als should not be recognised..
Just imagine the scenario if the local paper has TEN NAMES, should each sub author or et al get one point each? When the value of the paper is really ONE point?

He He...Amir, I think you are just opening the " CAN OF WORMS"

To be fair and transparent, why not publish the whole CV of the "professor" in a newspaper so that we can really be proud of our eminent professors?

Personally I know of a "professor" who cant even write and publish a paper on his own

Anonymous said...

For those who are genuinely interested in the promotion scheme, you can check out USM's promotion guideline such as the points system.

if you guys think it is so easy to get assoc prof/prof then try talking to the many lecturers who are still trying to get there. The fact is, with a more tranparent promotion assesment scheme, it is not as easy and in fact, if this measurement was used last time, some of the current professors/assoc. professors may not even make it.

So do not judge everyone in the same way just because of some bad apples. Let's face it, in every organization there are those butt sucking, apple polishing dudes... but a majority aren't. So the one or two professors that you know may not speak for the rest of the academics.

While there are still loopholes in the promotion assessment scheme, it is still an improvement compared to those time where administrative duties, who you know counts.

At least for the younger staff, with a guide such as this, they can plan their career strategies.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled upon this blog today and with such perfect timing too. I'm a Malaysian with undergrad and postgrad degress from Australia (my masters and PhD are from Sydney University). I was supervised by world leaders in their respective field. I'm now an academic in a well-known Australian university, having seen and experienced the recruitment process here.

I have nothing good to say about the central recruitment drive recently conducted by the Ministry of Education. While I applaud the ministry's effort to employ good calibre PhD-holders, I feel that the way they've done so is inappropriate for the many reasons that have already been elucidated above. I will add one more to that list.

It is an axiomatic fact that a good researcher is a good academic, with teaching being secondary to all things. As already mentioned above, there are professors who are excellent researchers but crappy teachers and they got to where they are now simply because the system inherently rewards good research. Therefore, and especially for early career academic, it is important to work with people who share similar interests (preferrably those with a track record). Collaboration is a major element in research, and one that should not be taken lightly. Good working relationships with good people can produce very fruitful research (plus the fact that one gets to learn alot from them too). Good research record leads to career advancement. It's a logical process. Accordingly, it makes sense for a PhD-holder to first scout out the research interests of faculty members for collaboration potential (I did anyway). If I were ever asked in the interview why I applied to University XYZ I could readily answer that I'd like to work with so-and-so. It is a valid reason to want to work there.

It is for this reason alone that I believe that the MOHE has got it wrong (in addition to the other reasons). Academics need to take a hands-on approach in choosing where they'd like to work, and being involved in a centralised recruitment process certainly mitigates that level of control. I suppose there are academics who are not concerned with where they end up and I am definitely not in any position to judge them. From what I've observed, good academics know a better idea than that.

Anonymous said...

In the university I’m currently working, there are 2 types of academician. One is totally research and the other are teaching staff. Most of the junior staffs involve in research (Assistant Prof and below) and has no teaching responsibility (may be one/two lectures in a year in the field where they are specialized in). If you’re really good in research, one could get to Assoc Prof/Prof as well, as long as you’re recognized as the leader in the field and with string of publications. As for teaching, almost all the teaching are conducted by Assoc Prof/Prof. To be an Assoc Prof/Prof in teaching, one need to have a solid research background as well (although might not need as many publication as the Assoc Prof/Prof in research) and excellent/inspiring teaching skill. Therefore, one could achieve professorship in 2 different paths - first, by pure research and second by research + teaching. As I mentioned, research is such an important element in this institute that without it you’ll go no where. All the junior members required to do research. Only after you’ve achieved Assoc Prof then you’ll be allowed to choose the path you want to be (i.e. research or teaching). Under this system, I can assure you that all the lecture I’ve been so far are truly excellent and the research staff is top of its class. It’s all about specialization and professionalism. There is no “good researcher but bad lecturer” issue as people are assigned to what they are really good at.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 5/30/2007 09:40:00 PM, all you say is true in the environment that you (and I) are in right now, but I'm not sure that the MOHE's goal is (or should be) to compete with Harvard or Stanford. If we end up having universities that are well-known for teaching with some solid (but not spectacular) research going on at the same time, that will already be much better than where we are now. Examples of universities that fit the description which we might try to emulate are for instance Cambridge (yes, as you may know, that is its reputation now in many fields as its research reputation has been on the decilne for decades despite relatively solid funding - a real puzzle), some Tier II research unversities in the US, a few of the better liberal arts colleges in the US etc.

Anonymous said...

The USM guidelines for promotion mentioned by "Eduthots" above is a step in the right direction. But you can see the influence of non-research people in the establishment of this formula because it only gives 20% for research and so it is still possible to be promoted solely on teaching and admin service with token efforts in research. In my opinion, that is the loophole for ****-kissing people. In some universities in Malaysia, you can get full prof with just 15 international publications.
But in Singapore, that 15 papers are not going to get you even Assoc Prof.
An average Science or engingeering PhD graduate in the US will already have 5-10 refereed papers by the time they graduate. So, getting 15 papers is not that difficult.
I think the low standards for assoc and full prof appointments in Malaysia are so entrenched that it is impossible to change the structure. The low standard is endemic in Malaysia because it is seen not only in IPTA but even IPTS such as UTAR.
The only way I can see for Malaysia to bring back the quality is to create another higher professorial rank such as "University Professor" with higher pay but with a minimum requirement of 100 international refereed journal articles that must be listed in a website (so that everybody can see and count!) and no exceptions. That would bring back some prestige and quality.

Anonymous said...

Just to clarify the "University Professor" comment above. I meant that position to be a regular faculty position not titled or honorary chair. I would think a titled chair should have more publications than that.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, there isn’t any common standard that could follow for the appointment of prof. Each university has its own criteria. Obviously, a prof. at Harvard is not the same as a prof. in UM even though they both carry the same title. Therefore it’s useless for comparison. The same also apply to commercial world. A CEO in a small company is not the same as a CEO in IBM or Intel. It’s just a title. However, this title will directly reflect the quality of the institute. A prof. is suppose to be the one of the highest position in the academic. If the achievement of the prof in a particular university is of low standard, it will directly reflect the quality of the school/university overall in the eye of the public. Therefore, the title for prof should be given to someone who really shows some excellent credential and not because of seniority nor depend on how long you’ve service the university.

In most prestigious universities, it’s impossible for some one to become a prof unless you’ve string of publications. Research publication is the pre-requisite for professorship. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve stay in the university for 50 or 60 years. If you stay for a long time, your salary might increase year to year because of seniority. However, you’ll never get the title prof unless you’ve very good achievement. So, salary and title could be 2 very different thing. Some very senior Asst Prof might receive higher pay then for example a young Prof. But for someone to get a professorship, the duration of time in services is irrelevant. It’s all down to publication and credential. Credential here means solid achievement that has hard prove evidence, i.e. publication, award, chair and etc. Even if you have provide a good service, work OT every time, excellent speaker and etc, all those soft skill might be useful to get you for consideration for professorship but you’ll never get it until your CV is full of color. Achievement through words of people is not going to get you far. Thus, even if you’re good in “polishing shoes” you’ll never get to the high position without solid support of your achievement. If you make it to the top, you’ll be questioned by others and the committee can sack you anytime if the community in the institution demanded so. This is how the institution like Harvard ensures its top quality and trust from the public.

Meanwhile, in Malaysian University, the promotion scheme is less transparent. One very weird phenomena I’ve observed in the public university is how the Chair/Dean was elected. In most institution, a chair/dean is normally the key figure of the faculty and only people with the highest qualification is assigned. In our local university however, it’s more of a symbolic figure, similar to our Agung/Sultan. The Dean of the faculty or head of department changed every 3 years or so. Each faculty member take turn to be elected to that position. Therefore, you can see some very young inexperience lecturer without any credential get to be the head of department, deputy dean and dean. This is somewhat unusual as these people will eventually represent the faculty or department. If they themselves are not qualified, how are they going to convince other people. May be there isn’t anyone in the public university wanted to be elected for the chair position and therefore these youngster have a chance to grab it. This is totally different from other part of the world where the chair position is the most prestigious position that almost everyone wanted to compete for it. There are even politics involved that try to bring down someone in order to get the position. While in our local universities, you don’t have to do anything, just wait for your turn. This is something that I totally could not understand.

If we really want to implement quality assurance of the staff in our public university, transparency is the key issue. The promotion system in the public university is just like a black box. No one knows who and why someone suddenly gets promoted. And no one knows where and how to make a grievance if there is any injustice. It’s actually not difficult to provide the salary scale that could attract good quality of people to our university. In fact, I believe each university has enough funding to do more than that. Unfortunately, it’s all being misused in hiring and paying those unqualified staff. There is no way you can build a tower if the foundation is rotten. To surely revolutionize the tertiary education sector, the “sleeping staff” needs to be removed and replaced by more dynamic and visionary staffs.

Anonymous said...

In one of the local university that I know of, the dean definitely have the 'power' to act rather than merely a symbolic figure - imagine he turned down an oversea applicant (young PhD holder with sound publication record) referred by the Vice Chancellor - but not for a good reason - he has plan for his 'clan' and nominated their/his students for oversea PhD for a long term plan. Anybody can understand that?

Anonymous said...

The first poster has said it really - it's all just a wayang kulit.

Since when has anyone in the government service need to be accountable for anything?


Anonymous said...

Maybe our 'wise Amir' can comment on all the above points raised? he seems to be in the midst of things and claim to know more than us....;) hehe
As I said previously, Amir has just opened a can of worms. Sometimes elegant silence practised by the politicians is better Amir. At least people would not know if you are a fool or not!

Anonymous said...

I think MOHE should definitely increase the number of PhD holders in our local IPTAs. Unfortunately, I don't think they are going about it the right way though. Possibly because those people at MOHE are admin or PTD-types. I doubt they know much about running universities and recruiting researchers. Just look at the way they implement PTK into the academic scheme... And well, the people in the universities can't really say much... what with money mostly coming from government. If govt says recruit at pasar malam they'll probably have to...**sad**

I don't think Amir sounds like a fool... or opening a can of worms. What he says is probably things that are written... the fact is people abuse and misuse power when they are in position... When things are not transparent and you put the wrong people in place...

Lastly, there is this fallacy refer to as the ad-hominem fallacy in philosophy... This is when you start attacking a person rather than his arguments.

Just my 2-sen...

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous who said "The only way I can see for Malaysia to bring back the quality is to create another higher professorial rank such as "University Professor" with higher pay but with a minimum requirement of 100 international refereed journal articles that must be listed in a website (so that everybody can see and count!) and no exceptions. That would bring back some prestige and quality.

If this is the case, i guess there is no any professor in both IPTA and IPTS. It is common that 1 to 2 years are needed to get a international refereed journal published. Even for those professors from MIT or Standford, i doubt that they published more than 100 international journals. For western researcher, they will not focus in publishing journal but they do always try to publish paper in well-known/top conference. However, different fields has different practise.

Some malaysians complain without knowing the facts or they are not even familiar with that field. 100 international journals =.="

I do agree that the title "Professor" from standford university is different from the IPTA and IPTS. Sometimes, i found that people always think that those from Standford University is better than those from not that well-known university. But i think we should judge according their research, award or publications and not the name of the university.

Just my 2 cent.

Amir Dina said...

IMHO the interview exercise or experiment, at least in my case failed. One suppose to attract ppl with experience but we end up swarmed by newly grads.

Not very fruitful.

The New Scientist etc. do attract academics of better calibre but sadly up to this moment MOHE are not willing to give these ppl the pay they are expecting.

Eduthots and others,
Most promotion exercise will be similar to the one at USM. If you cannot fulfill the criteria your application form will not even reach the committee.

Some promotion explicitly mention papers where the candidate is the first author only to be considered.

The again promotion criteria differ from one unis. to another. Loopholes exists but after each review the holes are smaller.

Do we want to set one standard for all unis. (Murad report) or make each unis. more independent?

Some unis. like to concentrate on teaching (IPTS in particular) while some envisaged to be a research unis. The promotion exercise should reflect the aspiration of each unis.

Being in administrative position one has to sacrifice research or teaching. Not something that many academics like to give up.

The rotation system is made up by administrators to entice academics to take up administrative position.

The practice is common in many other unis, not unique to M'sia.

All Deans that I know have 'power' to act. Some use it wisely and some don't...

Unis are tied to PSD schemes (as posted above) thus public unis. do not have the funds to set salaries. The enticement usually in the form of building space or labs to do research.

Anonymous said...

where is kian ming and tony?

Anonymous said...

kian ming and tony went to haadyai to
service their khrams

Anonymous said...

To the anon 5/13/2007 11:42:00 AM:
100 international journal articles is common in the US. To lower the standard to say 100 "refereed" articles in international publications (to include refereed papers in reputable international proceedings and excluding non-refereed papers), that is even more common. For that, you don't have to look far. Just look south to Singapore.
To take 1 to 2 years to get a paper published is too long. That paper must have a lot of problems to be in that situation. Now I understand why a group of Malaysians said in a conference that rejection rate of Malaysian papers in international journals is over 70%. With current online document submission for authors and reviewers, the process is now shorter.
As mentioned by some posters here, in US, UK, etc., research, publications, and fundings are the main criteria in promotion to full prof.
You mentioned that by the standard I mentioned, there wouldn't be any full prof in Malaysia. That is exactly the point if Malaysia is to look at the process of promotion to full prof objectively. By international standard, many of our full profs are not up to par. But Singapore's full profs are up to par.
Finding well-qualified candidates is not that difficult if salary is attractive. These well-qualified candidates would not bother going to Stesen Sentral.

Anonymous said...

Sorry..I should have said anon of 5/31/2007 above.

Anonymous said...

20% to research is only for the position of Senior Lectureship. For assoc. prof, 35% for research and prof. research accounts for 40%. Hence, the share of admin duties will shrink i.e for Prof, it only accounts to 10%. The link only shows the guide on the promotion for Senior Lectureship.

Yes it can take 1-2 years before a paper gets into print. At times a journal take 7-8 months to get back to the author, then revision. After that the author wait another 2-3 months again before getting a feedback.

Rejection rate is high for Malaysian papers not only because of its quality but tell me... if you are discussing a study on Malaysia, which top international journal (which are dominated by the West) would be really interested. So judging papers from international journal have its problems too.

While a paper that discuss a very simple thing based on the issues in the West, one will find it easier to make it to the journal than an issue that talks about Malaysia.

Anonymous said...

Eduthots: I apologised for not mentioning publication standards in sciences and engineering. Obviously, the standards in the Arts, Humanities, etc., would be different. That is why in our promotion system, the confidential vote by faculty members (at least one rank above the candidate) at the department level whether to recommend promotion is taken seriously by the university committee because the departmental faculty would know the appropriate standard in their areas.

Anonymous said...

Many years ago, if you do not published in reputed international journals, dont bother to apply for promotion posts.

Now they make it easier by equating in a simple formulae such as:
1 international journal paper= 3 local papers

If this is so, no body in the universities want to get published in international journals cos you can submit crap local papers three fold to get the posts

In the end mediocrity rules as nobody can publish to the standard of international research

Then when this happens...who to blame??

As I see it, any promotion should be publically published in newspapers. So ordinary citizens like us can judge!

Anonymous said...

To anon above...

Promotions be published in newspapers???.... No need to overdo things lah... Just have full CVs published in websites enough already. No need to show off to all n sundry... wasting paper... save the the world.

Anonymous said...

I have attended the interviews both in KL Sentral and the university. I think what Anon 5/31/2007 06:35:00 AM is very right. I believe MOHE and the VC want to make the recruitment a success. It is Dean and Professors from the faculty who want to ensure it a failure. I guess the real reason is that they worry high-fliers would jeorpadize their positions or show that they are less capable. Another thing is that they are only willing to offer the scholarships for overseas studies to "certain group of people" . Non-bumi would probably asked to study locally.

Anonymous said...

Just want to add to want the anon have said in the above.

As we all know SLAB (skim latihan akademik Bumiputera) is strictly for our BUMI brothers/sis.

I recently discover that SLAI is open to them as well.

Is it an open secret?

Anonymous said...

Just like IPO, they have twice the chance to get selected...

Anonymous said...

No wonder those non-B prospective lecturers who apply SLAI cannot get it...

Rupa-rupanya ada suatu di belakang...

Anonymous said...

I got a deep feeling that these new lecturers from certain racial groups will not be welcomed by the existing dept lecturers which form the majority....

Anonymous said...

"1 international journal paper= 3 local papers" anon (5/31/2007 02:43:00 PM):
Another trick used by local faculty members is to publish their papers in other south-east asian countries and count those as international papers.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

its not an open secret but well known policy.....regarding slab and slai

Anonymous said...

100 publication in international journal is unreachable ? Let’s see. I’m not going to name names in the following figures but I can assure you that most of the Prof or even Assoc Prof has more than 100 publications before they reach their position :

Director of research center, Harvard – 142 papers (4 nature, 6 science, 14 Cell)
Director of research center, MIT – 193 papers (16 Nature, 5 Science, 14 Cell)
Head of Department, Harvard – 140 papers (6 nature, 5 science, 7 Cell)
Prof, MIT – 300 papers (30 nature, 12 Science, 34 Cell)
Prof, Harvard – 95 paper (3 Nature, 1 science, 7 Cell)
Asst Prof, Harvard – 18 papers (5 nature, 1 science, 3 Cell)

Now, let’s look at the figures in our public universities. These are only a few that I can get from the electronic database :

Prof, (non-bumi) – 68 papers
Prof, Dean (bumi) – 16 papers
Prof, Head of Department (bumi) – 9 papers
Lecturer, Deputy Dean (bumi) – 2 papers

Note that, non of the faculty members mentioned above publish in Nature, Science or Cell. What is obvious also is that, some of the members carry a high position even though they do not have extensive publication. Perhaps, they have other responsibilities which we’re not aware of. But still, this no. is not impressive at all. Not to mention that most of the paper published is actually in Malaysia Medical journal. Also, it’s hard to find any non-bumi appointed as Head of Department or Dean even though they have substancial publication record. Weird ?!?!

Now, just another few figures to look at how our fellows Malaysian do in overseas. These are among a few that I know who is currently in the academic.

Postdoc – 14 papers
Prof – 101 papers

Now, don’t tell me that Malaysian is less qualified in doing research. It’s not true as some Malaysian have been quite successful in doing so in overseas. It could be because there are more funding, more facilities and etc. You can name thousand of reasons why they are doing better than in local universities. But the main reason I think is the lack of competitive environment, initiation and the attitude of “makan gaji buta” practice in some of the staffs in our public universities. Therefore, it’s no surprise that a lot of our very good lecturers left the university either to private institution or overseas. With this kind of system, where the best is being discriminated and penalized, how are we going to improve our universities. We can’t even retain our best brain and don’t even think about attracting expert from overseas. Not only that the salary is peanut but also the working environment. It was not so long ago that the Malaysia government has recruited several great academic stuff from overseas with excellent perks and potential. But now, almost all of them went back to overseas or absorb into private sector. Anyone know why ? It’s because that their expertise is not being appreciated. They are capable of doing a lot of thing which can boast the quality of our research. But the people on the top simply trying to suppress their ambition by introducing a lot of red tape and discouragement. If the top people is not good, don’t even think that your “kakitangan” will be better. Ask a cell phone saleman and he can tell you straight away what is the most popular model at the time. Ask our researcher what is the new breakthrough in their field and they will either silence or give you something that has been reported 30 years ago. If someone has a slightest sense of their career will realize that joining the public university is equals to career suicide. Once you’re in, you an only climb the career ladder among our public universities. They can’t go anywhere else because the environment is so stagnant and do not allow for excellence practice. Simply put it this way, joining the public uni is just waste of time. But the good thing though is that, you probably less stress and will enjoy life better as you take home the “gaji” every month. Well, believe me, there are people who want it this way and to them the public universities is a haven for them to shine amongst their own (crappy) crowd. “Jaguh Kampung” indeed….

Anonymous said...

I am a non-bumi and now working in the industry. I completed my postgraduate studies many years ago. I have attended an interview held by a group of faculty members. I felt that my presence was not welcome at all. They were trying to discourage me by mentioning that teaching is 10X harder than working in the industry and followed by sarcastic laughters. Besides, they also promised me a very low pay and challenged me not to join and laughed among themselves. I believed these are their dirty tricks to chase the intidimating candidates away despite the initiative by Minstry of Higher Education. No wonder the ministry is stepping in after they found out that the hiring rate of high-quality lecturers is extremely low and not meeting the target. I think those professors/lecturers are trying to protect their rice bowls. What a pathetic situation in our Bolehland.

Anonymous said...

Regarding 100 international journal, some people thought that refereed conference and workshop articles are considered as international journal. If the conference paper is considered as journal, i would say many researchers would have over 100 publications.

However when we say JOURNAL, then i guess many professors do not publish 100++ journal (just simply browse prof website). But make sure that you do not count conference/workshop articles as international refereed journal.

I just want to say that there is not much professors have 100 journal, so we cant requested malaysia professor have the same standard as well. If malaysia universities cant hire any professor from other country who has 100 journals, is that mean malaysia university do not need to offer prof position? As a malaysian, of course i do hope malaysia have local prof who published more than 100 journals.

Lastly, i do not agree that IPTA and IPTS prof needs to publish at least 100 JOURNAL before they are offered "Prof" position as i find it even prof from well known university haven't published 100 journals (even maybe there are some profs who published 100 journal).

Anonymous said...

The figures cited above only refer to original article or review paper published in peer-reviewed JOURNALS. If you browse the website of these prof, you’ll find theie “Most Recent Publication List” which is in the last 3-5 years or “Representative Publication” which means the list only include paper from good journal which represent his work. This list on the website however is not extensive. The figures cited above are obtained from a quick search through public electronic database which we, scientists, use extensively. Proceeding, abstract and conference presentation are not included. By the way, it’s a general practice (at least in this part of the world) that conference papers are not regarded as publication at all in most institution.

Now, how to achieve 100 papers? Well simply, you’ll need to have a lot of good researcher under your wings. It’s true that a good paper probably take 1-2 years to complete. If you’re working alone and you conducted most of the experiment, that’s about right. But, once you become faculty member, you’ll likely to have recruited some postdocs or technicians to run part of the experiments which will shorten the period of getting real results dramatically. The rate of paper publication goes up dramatically once you promoted to higher position as you’ll now be supervising your fellows researchers to run all the experiments. Therefore, it’s not surprise that one will have numerous publication in a year provided the people you hired are up to par.

Now, look at the local university. We don’t have postdoc position. Even if we introduce such a position and I don’t think that our Prof are capable of supervising them as themselves do not have such qualification and experience. It is sad to say but true that most of our Prof in local university don’t even know what they are doing. If you ask a cell phone sales person, he’ll quickly tell you what is the “hottest” model at the time. If you ask our Prof, they have no idea what is going on in the world or even in their field. And do you think they care ? No. These faculty members will get their salary every month and perhaps get promoted automatically when they service the university for enough time.

Just look at our IRPA grant holders, how many of them are working on natural products for curing of diseases. While it’s true that there are some very good drugs that has been discovered in the 1950s-70s through massive screening of natural products. However, the successful rate of finding one useful compound is so so low, may be 1 in million. Even if you are lucky enough to find one, you’ll not be able to patent it. You’ll then have to go through multiple round of modification until you get a potent drug. Then, there is also issue with water solubility as these compounds are mainly large and impossible to synthesize. No pharmaceutical company will be interested in planting all the trees/plants to extract the minute amount of active compound. It’s just doesn’t make sense economically. Even if you can successfully make it water soluble and synthesize it in large scale, then it comes to problem with the mechanism of action and metabolism which you’ll no idea what they will do in the human being. Research on natural products is so “outdated” these days that you hardly find any drug company or research lab doing it.

People now are talking about personalize medicine and rational drug design. With the understanding of the human diseases, we are now capable to single out the main culprit of the protein/factor that causes the disease. This then translate into a drug target that could be targeted by specific drug designed to correct the function. No more unnecessary random screening. This is what most of the people are doing while we’re still focusing on the random screening of natural products which might or might not generate any interesting results.

As to whether our prof should have 100 publication or not ? Well, you tell me. It’s true that if such criteria is applied to our faculty member, I doubt any of them are qualified to be the position they are now. Even worse, may be 99% of them won’t even qualify to be lecturer or junior faculty members at all. What I didn’t mention also is that, even if you’ve 100 publication you’ll not been considered for the senior position unless you’ve published something in a top tier journals. That is the pre-requisite. It’s not merely quantity, quality do count as well. I know some like to split their story into multiple small papers or even worse publishing the same story in different journal in order to increase their publication list. This practice is not encourage at all and in most time embarrasses themselves when they’re interviewed by the faculty from a more established institution. Of course, the criteria for profesorship in Harvard, MIT and etc are so much harder than our university.

I won’t expect we’ll have such quality in another 50 years or so given the fact that our education system is so corrupted at the time being. Therefore, I’m more than agree that we should have our own criteria for promotion. Even if we can not achieve the high standard as other university, it doesn’t mean that we’ve to lower the standard to accommodate our sub-quality lecturer. The professorship should be awarded to people who are at least show the highest achievement in a particular institution even though he/she does not qualify to be a world leader yet. The professor title represent the highest position in the institution and it reflect the quality of that institution as well. It should be used to distinguish the very best from the crappy people in the institution. However, this is never the case as you can see so many unqualified staff getting such title may be through other loop hole i.e. published in local journal to substitute the point for international journal, do more administration work (i.e. answering phone or etc, hell know what they’re doing in the office) and get credit, teaching (whether good or bad teaching as long as they fulfill the hour requirement) and so forth. If we keep cutting down the requirement for academic staff, we’ll soon see all our faculty members getting the professor title and teaching crap. In fact, it’s already happened in some universities just that no one bring it up. If I were to be a faculty member, I’ll be more than happy that the administration loosening the criteria for promotion, more salary, happy. This is all down to the quality and the vision of our management. After all, we’re what we’re now. The current downfall of the education system can’t be explained any better than the real situation in our universities themselves.

Anonymous said...

Anon of 5/31/2007 11:35:00 PM and 6/01/2007 02:05:00 AM: Thanks for taking the trouble to look up the data. You helped support my statement that profs with 100 journal papers are common. I am surprised this is something local faculty find hard to believe. Actually, we need not go far to find those profs with >100 journal publications. You can find a few of them in Singapore. Some are Malaysians or former Malaysians. The Dean of Science (native Singaporean) has over 240 journal articles. That guy's publications really shot up a lot since I first know him. Granted that when you are a senior admin, ***-kissing people like to put you as "honorary" co-author to curry favour.

As for anon of 6/01/2007 12:58:00 AM: I agree journal papers are different from proceedings. Most institutions would consider whether the proceedings paper is refereed or not. Nowadays, some conference organisers put the refereed conf papers as part of regular journal -- cheaper than printing a stand-alone proceedings that way. If conf paper is not refereed, then it has less or no value for the bean counters. If you look at some resumes, the stronger ones would list journal and conf papers separately. The less-strong ones would say "Refereed Publications" to include only papers (journal and proceedings) that are refereed or peer-reviewed. Most average people would list "Publications" in their resumes to include everything. Some even pad their resumes by including abstracts. These are things to be aware of in evaluating resumes.

As I mentioned previously, and agreeing with above anon, even if we take the lower standard and consider "refereed" international publications (journals and proceedings) many Malaysian full profs do not have many.

There are many Malaysians or former Malaysians out there in the world who have more than 100 international publications. You just don't see them in the Star's Global Malaysians website.

To try to change the present academic structure in Malaysia right now would create too much of an upheaval and therefore politically impossible. That is why I suggested a higher level faculty position irrespective of race.

Another controversial suggestion: If Malaysia is interested in changing the landscape of public higher education in Malaysia, it should maintain the current retirement age at 55 so that the unproductive faculty can be retired early to be replaced by younger people. Otherwise, it would take generations before we see an improvement in mentality and attitude. We need to remove the present one-eyed man-leading-the-blind mentality that only breeds mediocrity.

I believe the low retirement age is one reason why Singapore is able to improve its academic standing very fast in the last 20 years -- by retiring the older members fast and replacing with younger research-active people.

Some posters here mentioned that we have the financial resources to hire good people. So the question is: Does Malaysia have the political will to improve its public higher education to achieve parity with Singapore?

Anonymous said...

Maybe i am wrong with the 100 journals since i only focus in computer science area (As i am currently a postgraduate student who is stuying computer science). From what i see (those professors from Standford University), most of them do not have 100 journals as in computer science area, they are not mainly focus in publishing journal as they always aim top conference (first level) also. Of course, i guess the paper's quality is recognized in comp science area. However, such conference paper will not have high value in malaysia universities as it is still considered as "conference" paper.

I believe our education level is far behind to western countries, even some asean countries (Thailand, Singapore etc). Besides, not many academicians from IPTA and IPTS have their personal webpage as well to show their publications. Else, academician from either one malaysia universities will not know what is doing by another acedemician from other universities even they are focusing in the same area. Sad.

Just my 2 sen.

Anonymous said...

Go to
and you can check till your heart content on the details of lecturers in IPTA. Most lecturers would have updated their profile there since they have been urged to do so.

Anonymous said...

I agreed with Anon (6/01/2007 12:16:00 AM) and I have two 'kisah benar' to share with you all
Kisah pertama happened almost 10 years back that a non-bumis (chinese) was asking information about a scheme simalar to that of SLAP/SLAI now from a dean (chinese) but was tell straight to the face not to waste time and that this is only for the bumis.
Kisah kedua happened not very long ago a friend of mine (chinese with PhD degree) was intimidated during an interview in one of the universiti - he was asked to apply for a cleaner job in the universiti instead.
If YouTube exists at that time and this is air to the internet - I wonder what else we need to say......

Anonymous said...

Thanks, just check the website by simply choose "find an expert"=>"post"=>"professor", and there are currently 995 professor in malaysia who updated their profile (but many of them do not have personal website). If included those professors who not yet update their profile, i guess the no of professor in malaysia is more than 1000++.

Should i happy with the large no of professor???

Anonymous said...

All names of staff are listed in the said site with only basic information. For details such as publications and is up to the staff concerned to update it. Hence, if 995 professors are listed, then IPTA have 995 professors. However, if you screened 995 of them, not all would have a complete profile

Anonymous said...

Wow !!! 995 professors in our universities. It surely is an eye opening number. If I were them, I wouldn't show a complete profile as well. Why do anyone wanted to show their shameful achievement? It will just be a joke for others.

Anonymous said...

I hope one day malaysia will have own ranking for IPTA and IPTS. Many IPTS academicians have nice publication list. And one of the dean of IPTS almost have 100 journals.

Anonymous said... can get more than 100 papers if you are 'piggy backing'. Its not honest! Its other people's work who are forced to onclude your name from \fear\ or for 'favour'

I just cant help appreciating a few bloggers here are so proud to say that they have published this and that paper during their phd and post doc overseas, but when they return here they cant even publish a significant paper....

Down there, once you are from a reputable university or associating with a famous researcher, its easy to get published in a good journal. Try doing it on your own here.... it will be short of a miracle to get published just using your own name.
Of course this comment is a generalization...

Anonymous said...

To anon above, sometimes it's not piggy-backing but just that science nowadays is almost always a collaborative effort. It is rare for anything significant to be done by one or two people anymore. I think if you uproot any furiously publishing very bright person (Malaysian or not) and plunk him/her down in a department with no resources, no good students and no good colleagues s/he will not be able to accomplish much. I think this is probably one of the biggest fears of people thinking about going home: that they will have nobody to talk to/work with.

Anonymous said...

995 professors in our universities?!! If the promotion criteria were based on Harvard or NUS's standard, the exact number could be 1-20 only. And the rest don't even qualified for an Assitant Professor post. No wonder the dropping global ranking of IPTA and IPTS.

Anonymous said...

I agreed 995 is just too many especially when many do not deserve the title.
That comment (anon 6/01/2007 12:18:00 PM) about piggy-backing is not entirely off the mark. That anon is actually correct in his/her statement.
I know of a few people in the US who have so many papers that even if they were to type the papers, plot the graphs, and draw the figures themselves not mentioning doing the experiments,it would still be humanly impossible. I calculated the number of papers per year and it is mind-boggling...2-3 papers a month!
There is one guy at North Carolina State University who has so many papers that they become inconsequential to him because his number of patents is over a hundred..more than most people's list of journal papers. He collects patents while we all struggle to collect journal papers.
I know some of those profs in Singapore. They have grad students, postdocs, and junior faculty (especially asst profs) who actually work their hearts out. They are the ones who really put in their blood, sweat and tears.
It happens everywhere, even in Bell Labs and IBM.
Remember a case not too long ago in Bell Labs where a researcher made up the data? It was really embarrassing for those well-known co-authors who were caught not knowing that the data were cooked-up.
Sometimes it is not a good thing to be included as co-author especially when the paper is just crap.
But I notice the practice is worst in oriental culture. The problem with our oriental culture is that there is peer pressure to "carry" the senior faculty. These asst and assoc prof have to include the full prof as "honorary" co-authors. Sometimes, it is reasonable to include them because the full prof brings in the fundings based on his ideas, and pays the students and postdocs but sometimes they just happen to be directors of the labs. I admit that some full profs do really contribute their expertise and ideas or provide solutions and really teaching the young ones.
So, piggy-backing does exist.

Anonymous said...

You pay yr patent fees, you get yr patent rights. But does registering a patent itself constitute a 'plus' in promotion?

Any idiot can patent anything as long that patent doesnt infringe on other patent owner...

I am really exasperated thinking that despite the discredition in parliament about the real achievements on the geneva trade exhibition, the universities here are still proud of sending their delegates and claiming sacks of gold medals

It is strange despite the ruckus created by the geneva trade exhibition, the Malaysian inventors society does not try to defend or promote its stand. In fact the PRESIDENT of the MINDS kept quiet throughout..if I am not mistaken

The only thing I can conclude is SMALL MINDS generate SMALL IDEAS!

Anonymous said...

The points mentioned above are all valid. At the end, I think it points to culture. And which is why we need to always have an idea of how and what we want our universities to grow into. I don't believe comparison with Singapore is useful because we have a different set of resources and as far as I can tell, Singapore does not have many home grown talent, which is what we can have and want. (I'm surprised KM or Tony are not blogging about the closure of UNSW Asia, one month after opening, which surely beats our own MUST). Similarly people talk about universities like Harvard or Cambridge yet these are 'predominantly middle class institution' (quote about Harvard from Prof. George Whitesides' essay at Also I believe that the research culture in the US is not ideal, this preoccupation with tenureship, quantities of papers, Nature, pretty dire conditions for PhDs and postdocs (I'm sorry, but it's impossible to publish 10 good papers in your PhD, or even 2-3 good papers a month for a faculty). There is a purpose in doing research, and it should not be for tenureship or large numbers of publications in some highly politicised journals.

But there other 'models' we can learn from. Look at Quebec state in Canada, they are bilingual (which is relevant to us). Alberta state, also in Canada, they have oil money and they are pumping this money into the universities. Ok, examples are from Canada, but I'm sure we can learn from them too.

The problem with Malaysia, and I'll be direct about this, is the discrimination due to race/religion. No matter which way you look at it, the difficulties mostly stem from the protectionist and xenophobic mentality that somehow has enveloped the society or at least the government. It is, in my opinion, the most racist country I know of (bar the African ones). I even feel this sudden wave of differentiation at foreign Malaysian High Comms. I'm sure various people of different backgrounds read this blog, but my question to them is are you happy with the state we are in? Have you no pride of what you are? I mean if there are so many professors then it is a 'banana' country (akin to banana money), yeah banana professors. Let's make a change, someone.


Anonymous said...

Finally someone such as "anonymous" 6/01/07 04:02:00PM is saying something CONSTRUCTIVELY and OBJECTIVELY.

I was beginning to think that no matter what is said here, readers are just going to shoot it even for the most "trivial" gaps. I also wonder how many of these readers are actually people in the system who really knows the problem inside out rather than harping over and over again about Cambridge, Harvard, Stanford and etc. These may be big institutions...but be realistic.

No point trying to be these institutions when there are so many fundamentals flaws that need to be corrected and to do it OBJECTIVELY.

As mentioned by anon above, as long as racial discrimination is there, there is no level playing field and we'll never be able to retain the best. Secondly, as long as govt. are not willing to pay, they will not get the best. Thirdly, in an industry such as education, if monetary rewards/self glory is more important than passion, forget about being an academician. And the list goes on...

As much as the public criticizes the academics, the academics have their own complaints too of the problem at hand. They too know the limitations and weaknesses of the system. They are not as ignorant as some of you put them to be.

Anonymous said...

Prof Syed Hussein Al Atas, former VC of UM called it "PROFESSOR KANGKUNG"

Anonymous said...

Anon (6/01/2007 02:47:00 PM): You have misunderstood the patent process. A US patent carries a much higher value than a journal paper. In science & engineering research, that is our topmost objective because that is an invention. You can see that people publish left and right and even with scores of papers but then when you check their patent, they have none. Sometimes, you see them listed as "patent applied for" or "patent application submitted"; and they would list that for years in their resumes..which most likely means it must have been rejected. Notice I said US or world patent..don't bother about Malaysia or any local patent in 3rd world countries. Those people that I mentioned who have >100 papers, they may have only 2 or 3 patents or none. I admit that, just like anything else in life, luck does play a part in discovering or inventing something.
Regarding the Geneva exhibition, I have commented in one of the blogs that these Malaysian people have no clue about patent rights and protecting intellectual property.Depending on patent laws in a country, the clock starts ticking the moment you publish your paper or show the product in an exhibition. In the US, you have a year to apply for a patent after the 1st instance you publish it or lose the rights. In Australia and Europe, you have 6 months to file for a patent after showing it in a recognised exhibition. Basically, the invention must be kept a secret until you file it.
Coming back to the so-called "inventions" that Malaysians get so excited about, you would notice that over the years with hundreds of medals, nothing much came out in terms of patents. There may be some very good ideas but mostly junk. If they got as many international patents as medals, these IPTAs would be better than MIT.

Anonymous said...

anyone know the funding situation in Malaysia university, is it good or bad?can those professor secure enough funding to carry out research activity in university? That might be one of the reasons that malaysia university professors are not productive in publishing papers and applying for patent. No money mah !

Anonymous said...

Anon (6/01/2007 04:02:00 PM): "I'm sorry, but it's impossible to publish 10 good papers in your PhD, or even 2-3 good papers a month for a faculty."
As one poster said, people here boasted about having published a paper here and there, but not being able to do it on returning to Malaysia.
My extension of that statement is that some posters think they are doing very well with 2 or 3 papers in their PhDs in such and such a country, but did not know that there are others doing much better and just laughing at what we wrote here.
Just as you may find it hard to believe that it is common to find people with >100 journal papers or that somebody I know has >900 papers, you also find it hard to believe PhD students having 10 papers by the time they graduate. I did not come up with these figures trivially if I did not have the particular people in mind.
Instead of discounting other people's achievements, We need to recognise there are people better than us.

As for other anons: Yes, I agree the problem with IPTA in Malaysia is the racial discrimination practised by the govt. There are govt people who would rather see an institution (such as M**T) closed than to give other more qualified people a chance to run the place and turn the thing around just because the more qualified people are not of a particular race.

As I said in my previous posting, there are many Malaysians or former Malaysians out there doing good research. Just allow them to come back to help restore the standard and reputation of higher education in our country. That is if the govt really cares for the quality of higher education in our country.

For the anon above..actually my understanding is that there are money available. They are just not spending it right.

Anonymous said...

It is good to see this blog being active again, but I many people actually possess substantial knowledge to bear cogent comments and criticisms. Some even sounded as if they were more credible than our local professors.

Judging something by assumptions or rumours will only make us look stupid. I suggest if anyone were to criticise on something, please provide evidence...not generalisation please...

Anonymous said...

Anon above sounds like he/she is holier-than-thou. We don't even see him contribute useful comments with evidence. If anyone who wants to know the real situation (whether they are racist, whether are sincere about hiring/offering the scholarships, whether the professor/dean sound knowledgeable) I suggest you go personally for an interview to find out or ask those who have experience it - Our topic for this discussion is "Walk-In Interviews for PhD Holders"

Anonymous said...

It is up to Tony Pua to delete those comments that he considers to be off-topic and unimportant. I don't mind seeing my comments deleted because they have served the intended purpose of educating Malaysians to the type of competition we face in the outside world and that simply hiring PhDs at KL Sentral is not going to help.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11.00 am above

For your information this blog is very well subscribed by academics such as Amir, Learn From History , Ah Piau the Academic and many more.

They are knowledgeable and know what they are talking about, though in certain cases 'errors' might creep.

They hv every right to discuss the various topics brought abt in this blog

Anonymous said...

Just to quote a strategy taken by one of the universities in the UK in helping PhD holders to decide the how to pursue their future advancement. At the end of each term, the university will conduct a seminar which includes talks and exhibitions from both, the university about possible academic pursuit and the private sectors in terms of their recruitment available for PhD holders. Most PhD holders here find it helpful.

In general, numerous PhD holders are lack of working experience and have limited ideas about how recruitment system work in the university and private sector. Such approach may help.

Obviously, I am aware how it works in Malaysia and whether any universities are doing the same. It would be good to know. Comments?

Anonymous said...

From Annon 6/02/2007 07:15:00 AM.

I am not aware of how it works in Malaysia.

Anonymous said...

just looked at some publications of chemistry professors in Malaysian universities, I found that i can beat those professors easily in terms of quantity and quality of publications. Although i am still a PhD students, so far, i have 14 papers already ( all in tet lett, org lett, chem comm, JACS, Angewandte chemie, and PNAS, most of them i am first author) and have more than 200 citations.

Anonymous said...

Hello guys,
I guess some of us may feel more capable and qualified than the academics in IPTA. Good on you if you are.

But what's the use if IPTAs have the best brains, but filled with stuck up minds, generalising and thinking that everyone else is inferior.

They may be good in what they are doing, but may their pride may not be necessarily good in working together with their peers in IPTA.

Probably instead of walk-in interviews, MOHE can try headhunting.

Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous,

I find your claim of having 200 citations a bit hard to believe....if you are still a phd student, i reckon that you are in your third year of study... and to rake up 200 citations in just 2-3 years (even in PNAS) is pretty hard to believe...

Sorry dude...

Anonymous said...

Ahpiau, if this guy is in the US, he would probably be in the 5th year and about to graduate. Grad students in the US only get productive beyond the 3rd year. I don't think this is unusual.

Anonymous said...

I think too much emphasis is being placed on 'numbers of publications' whereas when it comes to getting a Prof post in a top university (say Oxford) it will be the quality of the publications that make it or break it. In Uk in general, you need at least 30 major publications before you should even consider applying for a Prof-ship, and you should also have secured about 2 million pounds worth of research grants. By 'major publications' I mean your publication has actually contributed significantly to the growth of knowledge in your field. That in turn means that you developed a method that released a bottleneck in the current state of technology, coming up with new models or hypotheses that allows other to break new grounds etc., very tall orders.

In UK/ US, this can be done because they have the people with the correct qualifications and ability to assess such candidates. For example, a good friend of mine, young fellow and definitely not more than 40 publications under his belt was promoted to a Prof in Oxford, because his last 3 publications provided much needed answers to some very tough questions in his field. This is how things are done in top universities - quality and not quantity. (Incidently, one of the Prof I know in Oxford is a malaysian, also not more than 40 pubs in his list, but highly significant pubs. He pioneered a method that made possible some very significant experiments). I also know people who work in the field of natural products and could (and does) publish 1 article per month on new chemical structures they find in this and that plant sample. These are very productive in terms of number of publications, but their findings merely add another datum or two to a huge database, and doesn't really move the field forward in any significant sense. Ditto for one professor I know who churn out a publication every two months or so describing new species of insects, bugs etc in a new, unexplore ecology. Interesting, but merely database fodder for now.

As mentioned, in UK/US you can do this because people who assess the candidates knows what they are looking for. The cynical way to put it - don't even harbour the slightest hope of bluffing your way over there. You would be laid bare and naked. That's what is totally lacking over here, and you have many people who raise to Prof-ship thru substandard pub that nobody ever discuss or talk about. If you ever have the chance to attend one of those high highly focused conferences (or meetings as they are called) in the US like the Gordon Conferences series, Keystone symposium series etc. then you would have a good feel of what it is like to do science at that level. These are meeting where particaipation is by invitation only, not the free-for-all seminars we are so used to. In these meetings, you have people queueing up at the mike waiting to ask you questions, 5 minutes before you finish your talk. There is no place to hide.

ON the note of patent, do remember that : (1) a patent does not mean the science behind it is good. All you need to show is that there is 'no prior article' and you get your patent. Remember the guy who sold us InventQjaya? He is said to have > 50 patents....(2) a patent can be circumvented (3) a patent can also be challenged. While a good solid patent (note : good solid) would be a scientific achievement, some patents are jsut sheer waste of money. One country was highlighted in a well known international science journal lately, for the wrong reasons. Their scientist are being pressured to file patents. So they took the easy way out- open up the 4000 year old Ayurveda, pick a medicinal plant with a healing property, do some basic research on this plant and then patent it. The patent office will allow you to do so, as long as nobody else has done it. The caveat is that such patents could never stand up to a challenge, as exemplified by the Indian govt's successful challenge of the patent on using tumeric as a cancer cure filed by a US company. In short, worthless patents. Yet hundreds of thousands of US dollars are spent on misguided exercises like these. The patent lawyers are laughing.

Don't even get me start talking about medals.......

So, the golden standard standard for academic is still good solid publications that are properly peer-reviewed and scrutinised by the general scientific community.

Anonymous said...

I notice that the academic structure in the UK has changed over the years. They are following more along the line as in the US where there is no limit in the number of full professors in any dept. For instance, many don't have the intermediate reader positions anymore. When I was doing my grad studies in UK, there were only two full profs and a number of readers. Nowadays, there seems to be many more profs. So, their professorships are not as prestigious as in the past. I have come across a few of them in conferences and I am not impressed. I would, however, respect the titled chairs more and there are only few of them.
About the matter how you do it, you still have to admit that they are not easy to get. I admit that they are just glorified papers, more value than a regular paper, but it is still an achievement to get one. And also very expensive process nowadays. I know because I have been through that process. Also, if you have a patent application rejected..your university would be losing thousands of dollars in legal fees for nothing. So, it is not trivial to just apply for one.
In the past, academics in the US couldn't be bothered with patents because their idealistic argument is that knowledge should be shared. (Remember the human genome project). But now the mindset has changed because both inventors and the institutions can make a lot money from the licenses. MIT takes in millions every year.
There are billions of dollars at stake if you don't protect your intellectual properties, especially in the high technology and pharmaceutical sectors.
Vast majority of the patents are useless.
Language in patent applications is very important. There is a classic example of the case of Purdue Pharma and the drug Oxycontin. Purdue Pharma lost over half of its sale revenue, estimated at $1.2 billion a year because it lost in court battles over patent infringement. Microsoft has to pay Alcatel-Lucent $1.52 billion over infringement of MP3 technology. And the list goes on..
Microsoft is worth many times more than Malaysia's foreign reserves because of its patents and copyrights.
You need luck, a lot of hard work and also brains to make a discovery. You need inspirations and ideas even if it means travelling to remote jungles or looking up old literatures such as Ayurveda.
As I have commented in some previous postings, we have to give credit where credit is due and we have to salute those that are really good and admit they are better than us. Their papers and patents (whether significant or not) are not obtained easily and we should not belittle their work just to make ours look better.

Anonymous said...

Yes! Outstanding discovery, novel breakthrough requires patenting. But in Malaysia example the various " discoveries" of our university researchers at Geneva is not worth patenting. The fact is its a stupid idea which no one wants. Of course you can patent a stupid and unworkable invention and discovery! But what is the point if it has no value and no one wants it. As it is I guess our universities are so buzy patenting things that even the street chinese wont want it.

Let me tell you about the chinese. They can smell opportunities or ideas to make money, thousands of miles away, why then are they not interested in our university 'mickey mouse' research projects?
I hope Augustine Ong who is founder and president of MINDS care to comment

Anonymous said...

Pfft.. All the comments I see here is bla-bla-bla-bla. For Pete’s sake, do something about it. Don't give me that I-am-so-extremely-powerless look.

The one thing I'm most disappointed about this blog is that Tony Pua moved to politics and is putting education second (maybe even third or fourth) on his priority list. In the days when Tony Pua was still CEO of his own company, there were still quality posts on this blog, but nowadays, it’s slacking. Real bad.

I don't know whether I should give Tony a scolding or to just leave him with his ambition (goal, dream or whatever).

But, I must really thank Tony for bringing us all together to this blog to focus on education. I can say we have a strong community of educationist, scholars, and thinkers. However, I sincerely believe this can be set one step fourth. A forum, a committee, a coalition, a think-tank, an association.

To everyone who's been crapping about patents, journals and PhDs, nobody will care unless some concrete action is taken. Who am I to say that? A Malaysian who cares about its education. Not a PhD holder, not a CEO, not an oversea graduate. But would it make a difference if I was any of those? No, well not in Malaysia. Nobody's doing anything, except just going bla-bla-bla-bla that is. Guess what, we're of the same rank ;)

To people who think they can do something about this (hopefully, Tony Pua and Kian Ming will be one of them, but everyone else is invited too), do something about it! You have a whole community right here, use it! :)

Anonymous said...

I am not sure what the above anon is complaining about. Is the anon complaining about the off-topic discussions or the dire state of malaysian higher education in general?

I know that the sad thing here is that MOHE and the PM have no clue what we are discussing here. They don't know about papers (refereed and otherwise), patents, standards of full profs, recruiting good faculty, etc, which are all related. They would just listen to what the IPTA profs tell them and they would go recruiting at KL Sentral. That is classic case of one-eyed man leading the blinds.

Anonymous said...

Anon of 6/03/2007 09:31:00 AM:
Applying for patent does not mean awarded the patent just as submitting a manuscript does not mean being accepted for publication. They may say they applied for patents does not mean they got the patents.

Just out of curiosity to see the patents of IPTAs in Malaysia, I tried UKM, UM, and USM websites.

UKM listed under research 6 malaysian patents and nothing else. Maybe others not listed.
USM - (according to a member of patent committee) 60 patents between 1988 - 2003 (probably mostly malaysian patents)
UM - no listings but several individual faculty has listed Malaysian patents awarded or applied for.

Because of the sparse information at IPTA websites, I went to the US Patent Office website to look up awarded patents for the universities in Malaysia and Singapore for comparison:

Period: 2001 - 2005
Malaysia: none from IPTA (all patents listed are from US companies in Malaysia)
Singapore: NUS 97; NTU 20 (as well as hundreds more from private corporations in Singapore)

I think we can put the arguments about usefulness of the Geneva medals to rest.

Don't bother comparing journal papers between Malaysia and Singapore. We are just in different leagues.

Anonymous said...

Through my knowledge there are professors in our universties who when joining other universities are demoted to associate professors only...despite holding professor tenureships in our local universities for a long time

Anonymous said...

The IPTA is a losing game. There is nothing you can do about it. It's just like a big fat slow machine. Unless you trim it down dramatically there is no way it will become efficient. A better alternative to quality education is the IPTS like IMU, Monash U, Nottingham U and etc. These are the universities that are sensitive to competition and HAVE TO maintain its standard or otherwise they will be thrown out of business. Not only that they have attracted some of the best brain from overseas, they constantly recruit our experienced lecturer from IPTA as well. If the IPTA do not come out with a sound strategy to improve its quality, we'll soon face a consequenses of affording high cost education. My suggestion is trim down the inefficient staff in IPTA and make it more efficient and competitive. USe the funding wisely for the good of the people.

Anonymous said...

This blog seemed to have "run out of steam". Really hope to see new postings, can't think of anything significant myself at this point though - anyone with interesting discussion please share...cheers

Anonymous said...

I think people are afraid to post because some here are complaining of off-topic discussions eventhough, in my opinion, the discussions of metrics of measurements such as papers and patents are all related to quality of the faculty in the IPTAs and whether the govt has the political will to rectify the situation and how to go about recruiting the best. Obviously, walk-in interviews and on-the-spot hirings are really ludicrous.
It is by looking at how our competitors such as the universities in Singapore are doing, that we have a reference point to know how bad we are.
I am really impressed the universities in Singapore still come out very well even when we consider the higher standards of counting patents. NUS, especially, is really competitive with some of the best in US and UK. This is an objective observation because I don't work in NUS but I know some senior people there.
UM and NUS started off as equal and how in the world did we lag so far behind that we are only comparable with those in 3rd world countries?

Anonymous said...

Apparently, there is no new post.
What happen to Tony and Kia Ming?
Are they doing well?
I hope Pak Lah will not send someone to "pick up" Tony and Kian Ming!


Anonymous said...

I found it very strange to recruit university lecturers in stesen sentral. why don't MOHE advertise the opening in international journals like science, nature or other international media and to ask those applicants to send the CV to the respective university. In fact, there are a lot of well qualified PhD holders and students living overseas. they must be more than happy to send CV to apply for the academic position in university. By doing recruitment in stesen sentral kuala lumpur, obviously, those people who are now living in foreign countries will not have chance to get the position.

Anonymous said...

"why don't MOHE advertise the opening in international journals like science, nature or other international media and to ask those applicants to send the CV to the respective university."

Do you think that the meager salary of our IPTA can attract good talents from overseas? Why do these overseas talents have to work under some politicised Deans with no research credentials? Absolutely no point to advertise the posts in in international journals!!

keropok lekor said...

Oh by the way, do not judge without reading the newspaper report. Similar recruiting interviews had been done in the UK and is going to be held in Australia. Jangan main hentam saja.

And be realistic when you criticise, where do we get enuf money to pay "super" academics? As long as they have acceptable credentials, they should work well to reform the current stage of Malaysian education.

Education is always a calling. Many good researchers even in NZ (where I am studying) chose to forgo positions in Australia and overseas to serve in their under-funded government universities, and they do reasonably well.

Anonymous said...

Time for me to throw in my 2sen into the ring (mixed metaphors).

Discriminatory hiring policies like some posters say do exist. Take a look at the faculty at UTM and you'll see only Malay lecturers there. When I was doing my undergraduate there, my supervisor told me that there's no future for a non-Bumi there and best try to apply overseas for postgrad studies. Likewise, other friends have similar experience. However, the trend seems to be changing recently as they have sent some students who completed their masters there to do Phd overseas and when they return, they'll be bonded for around 8 years by the faculty.

On the subject of Phd students publishing 10 top quality journal papers, I'm sure it's possible but I doubt if it's the norm. Anything from 3-5 is probably normal.

University professors in Malaysia don't have enough publications? I think in private universities, the focus is on teaching undergrads so they hardly have time for research. I'm actually amazed by my friends there who still manage to churn out a few publications every year with all the load on them. In public universities, I agree that the x international journals = y domestic journals thing is a joke. The other way some academics circumvent this is by publishing in the low-quality journals of other countries, which are also considered as international journals. I think we can prevent this by only accepting the publications in top journals in the SCI as one of the prerequisites for promotion.

On patents, there are good quality patents as well as bad quality patents. I agree that some people value patents over other publications. However, patents are not peer reviewed. They are examined by patent examiners who may or may not be experts in the field. The peer review process may be flawed but it's the best we have at the moment.

Funding is also limited here. I guess this is because we have no local industries to speak of. Besides the government funding, there's almost no funding coming from elsewhere. Private companies here are just not research oriented or care enough to fund our local researchers. Maybe it's a chicken and egg thing. More funding = more people for research or more research = more funding. Which comes first?

The other question is what's the goal of the Malaysian universities? To be top teaching universities? To be top research universities? I think they need to determine that. It's possible to be both but I think a total revamp of the system is needed, in that case.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anon 7:58 a.m.

Most of the public universities has an unstated quota for non-bumi lecturer. YOu won't see it in any "pekeliling" but it is there and can be easily notice if you do some statistic

As for private universities, I have seen some very good academic staff there. Way better and dedicated to their job compare to the staff in public uni. Some of these lecturers already have quite a number of good publication before they join the private uni. Some are experienced lecturers from public university and some are good research scholars who has done research in good international institute. It is true that the teaching resposibility might be a little heavier than the public universities. The main reason for the lack of publication from private university, however, is due to the denial of research funding from the goverment (i.e. IRPA and etc). I have seen some of the works of these academics and the quality is way better than what we have in the public universities. This raises another issue as the current system has failed to fully utilised our human resourse efficiently and wasted all the local talent.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone give me an idea of the salary ranges for lecturers/professors in the Public Universities and the Private Universities in Malaysia.

Thanks in advance.

Anonymous said...

Working alongside lecturers in the UK made me realised that most of their funding come from the private sector and not from the government. In fact, there's always an ongoing search for possible funding instead of waiting for people to offer. It all depends on the marketing value of each research and also the profile of researcher(s). Meanwhile, looking at the resources our government has compared to other countries that impose 27 - 35 per cent of personal income tax, what more could we expect? No doubt some resources are channelled into "inappropriate investment", but I really think that it's time for our researchers back home to rethink on how we can "sell" our research ideas to the private sectors.

Anonymous said...

A professor once said - a professorship or a doctorate may not reflect a person's knowledge. One may have his avenues to achieve a "documented" status yet having less knowledge than others. One may have strive hard to obtain a documented status, while not receiving any but has the abundance of knowledge. In the real world, we talk so much about qualification. It's very relative.

Although I disagree with the idea of having a walk-in interview for university academic recruitment, I felt glad that our government is keen to TRY. This, in fact is a good sign of change and change is always not about what we think is right or wrong, but what the "decision maker" thinks that's the best way. If we want to see more changes that we could agree with, we ought to shout out our thoughts and not condemning. Mind you the puffer fish effect (natural human self-defence mechanism).

Anonymous said...

Just got side-tracked for few days by proposal I have few comments to make.

To those anons who claimed patents are easy to get and patent examiners are clueless, I have the data for papers and patents filed by National University of Singapore faculty below.

For the year 2003:
Patents filed = 119
Patents awarded = 28

Now, we consider the publications in the previous year (2002) because patent is usually filed after paper:
Articles in refereed journals = 2,707
Conference papers = 2,122

These are just rough comparisons (I agree it is not apple and apple comparison) but you immediately get the idea that patent is not easy to get.
Now, who said patent is easy to get?

Also, someone said patent examiners are not experts. Granted they not be experts in particular areas, but they have extensive resources to make searches and comparisons scientifically.
Patent examiners are very thorough in their work. Much more so than journal manuscript reviewers. I have one patent that took 4 years to get because the examiner kept coming back to the lawyer for more information and clarification. A colleague of mine has his application rejected because he was not aware of published results in a little-known Japanese paper that the patent examiner was able to dig out.
A patent application is a legal document so every wording and sentence count. The problem is that people cheat and make fraudulent claims. Even if a patent passed the examiner and is awarded, outsiders can challenge the patent. Take the case of a drug company that kept saying "surprising discovery" in their patent documents. We would normally think those were innocuous words. Those two words caused the patent to be declared void in court. The loss of the patent cost the company billions of sales revenue forcing it to lay off hundreds of its staff. Try telling those laid off people that patent is not important.

Anonymous said...

To the anon who claimed NZ universities underfunded.
Let's say you are correct and let's see the results.
University of Auckland is top 50 in the Times world ranking.
Most, if not all, of its full profs have >100 publications.
They hired profs for titled chairs from overseas.
How do they manage to do so much for so little, if they are underfunded?

I don't think our top 3 research universities are underfunded.
It would be great if it is underfunded because imagine wasting millions of RM.
At one time, UM was talking about RM500 millions collaborations with Cambridge. What happened to that anyway?

Anonymous said...

To the anon who mentioned an IPTA "..have sent some students do Phd overseas and when they return, they'll be bonded for around 8 years by the faculty."
That is a bad deal if the IPTA cannot provide research facilities. I think that the 10-year period after your PhD is the time when you "make or break". If you do not have significant journal papers count after that period, you are trapped in that place. Where else can you go other than staying and accept whatever treatment they give you? You can forget about finding a faculty job overseas because you would not be competitive. It is OK if you are happy with just teaching because a govt job is an iron-bowl of rice..not breakable.
"On the subject of Phd students publishing 10 top quality journal papers, I'm sure it's possible but I doubt if it's the norm. Anything from 3-5 is probably normal".. I agree 10 is possible and that 3-5 is normal. That is why it is tough nowadays to find permanent jobs in the US with 3-5 papers because there are better people than you.

Anonymous said...

It's true that the IPTA do have a scholarship scheme to sponsor student to do their PhD overseas. The drawback, as pointed out, is that for a year of sponsorship, you'll be bonded for a 2 years service immediately after you graduate. Probably that's why most of the junior lecturer in IPTA are fresh PhD graduate with limited independent research experience.

To be honest, it could be good or bad depending on individual. If someone just needs a stable job just for "cukup makan" then it's a good idea as you'll be guaranteed a job offer after graduating. However, for someone who is more ambitious and wanted to take on the world, it's definitely a no-no, as it will limit your potential.

It is always good to have option in your career. But if the scholarship is the only resource for someone's dream to pursue a PhD, then it's not a bad idea. After all, you can always break the contract and pay the penalties. If you're good enough and earn big bucks in overseas, that's not really a big problem.

Anonymous said...

"Working alongside lecturers in the UK made me realised that most of their funding come from the private sector and not from the government."
In the US, that is not normal. Usually private funding is small and most are supported by govt.
It is not that easy to sell your research to the private sector even in US. The private sector does have its own R&D staff but there are programs where companies and universities can collaborate to get govt funding. But to ask a private company to pay from its own money, that is tough to find and the dollar amount would be small compared to what you can get from the govt.
But if you really have an idea, set up a company yourself and compete for govt funding. Normally profs would not do that because they are too old to take risks but graduate students can do it. When you are young PhD, you can afford to risk a few years of your life. There is a company in North Carolina started by former graduate students. They took the knowledge they learned in the lab and with govt support, the company is a multimillion corporation. Those former students are now multimillionaires. As for the prof, he can only watch his students getting rich.

Anonymous said...

"Working alongside lecturers in the UK made me realised that most of their funding come from the private sector and not from the government."

The above statement is not a norm in UK. Maybe it is true with the anon's lecturers! But I find it surprising though. Most of research funding in UK universities come from research council UK (i.e. AHRC, BBSRC, EPSRC, etc.) and European Commission. They are all government funded bodies.

Anonymous said...

sorry I meant ff's lecturer rather than anon's lecturer.

Anonymous said...

I wish to point out that the Orang Asli, not the malays, are the original inhabitants of Malaysia. Most of the malay Malaysians came from Sumatra and other parts of Indonesia. They only migrated here much earlier than the Chinese and Indian Malaysians. It does not mean they deserve privileges or rights just because they were the pioneer immigrants.

It is true that there have been abuses under the name of malay special rights and it is the duty of the malays in particular, and all Malaysians in general, to stop it so that the rightful malays get their rights, and the non-malays get their rights as citizens of this country.

It is a sad thing to say, but I do believe the main thing that is holding back malays is not the Chinese or the Indians, but the malays themselves. That is why Badawi and Mahathir have been quoted as telling to throw away crutches and work hard to face the challenges of globalisation.

The malay and others of the same mind should learn to stand on their own feet rather than claim for special privileges and rights. The world is becoming globalised and if they don't change their attitude, they will only become beggars in their own country.

As for the malays who insist on hiding behind the veil of malay special rights - you have lost the respect of non-malays a long time ago.

We also suspect that the current situation will, unfortunately, get worse if no action is taken now. Why? Because our kids in school hardly mix with each other. They will grow up with little understanding of their fellow Malaysians, and with the suspicions that exist, it will be worse.

The truth of the matter is that polarisation in Malaysia is caused by the discriminatory practises of the government - especially after the NEP - rather than vernacular education.

The NEP is upheld for the rich and not the poor in Malaysia.

Whether we admit it or not, the problem is that the special privileges and rights given have now resulted in only a selected few malays getting richer and richer. The bulk of the malays, especially in the rural areas are not benefiting from the system.

Poor people are poor people, rich people are rich people - no matter which race they come from.

The poor in Malaysia must be served but I am sure all taxpayers feel that this should be done in a manner which is blind to age, ethnicity, gender and religion.

What is wrong with extending help to all deserving citizens based on merits and needs regardless of race?

The Malaysia problem is that rich do become richer. And because of the political system, the players are the same.

Out of control - this is all I can say about any type of enforcement and the level of corruption in Malaysia. No idea what Badawi has done in his four years in office but judging from the ground, I guess nothing much.

If you have ever heard of the simple saying, "Give a man a fish, he eats for a day, teach him how to fish and he eats for a lifetime." you will realise that many non-malays have learned how to fish but the government is still handing out fishes to the malays. One day the fish will run out.

If you want to say discrimination is here in the US, yes, of course it is. Can you name a country where it doesn't happen? But let me tell you one thing - if you go looking for it, you will find it. But in Malaysia, you don't have to go look for it because it seeks you out, slaps you in your face every which way you turn, and is sanctioned by law!

Official figures have more than one million Chinese Malaysians emigrating over the past 25 years. Why did they emigrate? I am sure the government knows.

For most professionals, living abroad has its own ups and downs. But you get dignity, fair treatment and respect for your ability. You get a voice too. And ears to hear you.

Brain drain by the tank-loads is what we get. Every single year, Malaysia loses people who could potentially contribute to the country immensely.

So malay, you may keep your rights and perpetuate them. Such things are archaic. Who loses in the end? Your country, which should have been a first world one by today.

I sympathize with those that have benefited from the NEP, but the bad news is that the price he pays for his progress is much higher than what he pays for his benefit.

These special privileges and rights were once a necessity for them to move forward. Today, after many decades, they find themselves still standing in the same place.

It is a shame that our history has been constantly twisted so that our younger generation has no understanding of Malaysia's foundation and its true aspiration.

It is arguable that if not for the contributions of the Chinese and Indian Malaysians who helped in the development of this country tremendously, Malaysia would probably be in same category like Indonesia or the Philippines, if not worst.

To improve the malays lot, more have to be made to work in private companies where competition is real and what count is your ability. If special rights only help malays to become government servants, then all the more reason not to invoke special rights.

But of course, the present ruling elite drunken with wealth, will continue to fight this dream to ensure that Malaysia is kept divided so that BN can continue to rule.

Alternatively, Malaysians may begin to realise the dream of a new Malaysia.

The bitter truth is that the majority of this nation don't see the need to change things yet and until then, we can do little about it.

The bottom line with present day globalisation is this: compete on a level-playing field or you will lose. Plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...
Can anyone give me an idea of the salary ranges for lecturers/professors in the Public Universities and the Private Universities in Malaysia."

In the Private Uni College that I am working at in Nilai, a Phd's salary starts with 5k.

I know a senior lecturer at Monash Uni Malaysia who is getting 7k.

Anonymous said...

That's about right. For the public university salary, you can refer to a posting by Amir which provided a link to the salary page.

As for private university, 5k-10k for senior lecturer is about right. A fresh grad with PhD at the lecturer position will normally start at around 4k.

Anonymous said...

Just had a thought, which is that as long as our best students are going into 'the professions' - medicine, law etc. - we may not get very far in trying to get better academics. Perhaps something can be done in the schools though I'm not sure what.

Anonymous said...

regarding the IPTA scolarships schemes, someone pointed out much earlier that we now have SLAB for bumi and SLAI for bumi and non-bumi. this means bumi now have double the opportunities. i have seen one list of SLAI recipients and 4/5 are malay. if this is typical of the entire scheme, u can imagine how non-malay are getting increasingly discriminated while on the surface it gives the idea that opportunities are becoming more equal. on top of that, SLAB will also sponsor for masters level, which SLAI will not. so non-bumi will have to work their own way up before they even have a shot at the tiny chance.
if we think our IPTA are inferior, we should first realize there has never been a sincere attempt to put academic excellence as the priority. but you can't blame the IPTA. these things are controlled by MOHE which is controlled by the malaysian government.
welcome to malaysia, everyone.

Anonymous said...


This proves beyond doubt that the Malays are brilliant and manipulative. They are politically very mature and experienced despite what the Non Malays say. If they are not clever or manipulative they wont be in the position as they are today..

All throughout the issues discussed with racial slurs, I have observed that the Non Malay component parties of the ruling coalition seemed to be keeping quiet and not taking the stand to protect the interests of the non Malays.

So who is to blame? Your own political representatives are keeping quiet or oblivious...


Anonymous said...

"So who is to blame? Your own political representatives are keeping quiet or oblivious..."

yes they are. and we keep voting them in.

Anonymous said...

Varsities identify 599 academics


PUTRAJAYA: Public universities identified 599 for academic staff positions over a three-day recruitment fair organised by the Higher Education Ministry at KL Sentral last month.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed said of this number, 125 had been appointed immediately.

“A majority of these people have working experience in the public and private sectors and some have even worked overseas,” he said after chairing his ministry's post-Cabinet meeting yesterday.

The 125 had been offered positions in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi Mara, Universiti Malaya, Universiti Putra Malaysia and Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia.

Mustapa said the universities also offered scholarships to 255 to do their PhDs and 219, their masters.

Of the total, there are 389 bumiputras, 203 non-bumiputras and seven foreigners.

On another matter, Mustapa said the Cabinet had approved the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) Bill in principle at its meeting yesterday.

“There are some minor changes but I hope to table it for the first reading at the coming Parliament session beginning next week,” he said.

The long-awaited Bill will see the merger of the National Accreditation Board and the ministry’s Quality Assurance Division, which will lead to the establishment of the MQA.

On another matter, Mustapa said the ministry had set up an overseas promotions council – to attract more international students to Malaysia – which would hold its first meeting early next month.

He said, there were now 52,000 international students in public and private universities and the number was expected to rise to 66,000 by next year.