Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Prof Khoo Not Optimistic

tWell, the debate over the quality of higher education in Malaysia isn't going to abate any time soon judging from the continual media coverage on the issue, in the light of Malaysian universities crashing out of the Top 200 universities in the world. The latest is published in the Singapore Straits Times, written by its Malaysian correspondent, Chow Kum Hor.

Both Kian Ming and I have written regularly on our concerns that the current administration appears to be more interested in boosting quantity at the expense of quality in our education system from various angles.

Most recently, there has been plans of increasing the number of PhD holders in our local varsities. On the surface, this is critical for our academia to increase its standards. Kian Ming who was quoted in the article, "blamed the slide on the quality of academics, as only one-third of them have doctorate degrees".

However, with the criteria set on the "quantity" over "quality" of PhD holders, cynicism has clearly set in as to whether our local universities are just going to accept PhD holders from less academically reputable colleges - and we are certainly not alone in thinking so.
...eminent academician Khoo Kay Kim felt there was too much emphasis on increasing the number of PhD holders, instead of producing quality doctorate graduates. 'If this goes on, next year I expect the rankings to slip further,' he said.
Kian Ming added that "many lecturers were promoted based on their administrative know-how and know-who, rather than on works published in respected journals."

As highlighted by my earlier post, and now confirmed by The Times Higher Education Supplement, the slide of Malaysian universities was largely due to the fact that our local academics can now no longer vote for their own universities in the surveys (this type of no-integrity blow-own-trumpet shameless culture amongst our local academia is really quite shocking!)
Mr Martin Ince, who coordinated the survey, said this year, academics were not allowed to rate their own universities. This affected the Malaysian universities' ranking, he told The Straits Times in an e-mail.
Can things get worse? By the looks of things, very likely as long as the administration refuses to recognise some of the core causes of the decline in academic standards of our local universities, such as a leadership with a denial syndrome as well as a clear lack of transparency in the student admission and the academic recruitment and promotion process.

As Associate Professor Azmi Sharom of University Malaya's law faculty put it succintly:
Quality will suffer as long as there is the dual entry system. It's time to have meritocracy in the proper sense.
Will they listen? Or continue to wear the Emperor's new clothes?


Anonymous said...

In response to this and following up on my comment in the previous thread about 'requiring publication': The question is one of form vs. substance. MoHE is trying to imitate the 'form' of good universities, but without the substance this can only be sustained for so long. And it appears that things are beginning to fall apart. The centre cannot hold because there isn't one...all is only surface, there is no depth.

Anonymous said...

Mustapha is still exhibiting his 'denial syndrome'. Question is till when?

Does it takes an innocent small boy to point out that the emperor wears no clothes?

Anonymous said...

Did I hear correctly? Did Mustapha said in our research universities, the lecturers will have to stand by the principle of " publish or perish" ? ( ref to Singapore Straits times)

As I can see it the Universities do not practice it rather it is a safe and comfortable haven of " dont publish and enjoy life!" Lots of R&D or rihat and duduk

Anonymous said...

The Minister of Higher Education will be going around China to market Malaysia as an education hub. Instead of strengthening what is crumbling down, he goes around selling Malaysian univerities.
What a joke!

Anonymous said...

What mustapha currently doing is a marketing gig, hoping to increase the awareness of the name of USM, UM, UKM and etc in the largest country in the world. To him, this is the temporarily best measure. He does not have the power to go further like most of our readers suggested here. It's very very limited given the kind of ruling government we have, which has been sacrifising quality for quantity for as long as Malaysia exists. Denying the current government the majority may work faster than commenting here.

Anonymous said...

They just want the money.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Mustapa *did* say 'publish or perish'... it made it to the Straits Times? Interesting, it was published in The Star originally.

I think to be fair to Mustapa, the whole China story has been slanted. The papers reported a lot on the student enrolment thing...

But Bernama made some mention of the research collaboration initiatives. Seems UM has got something active with Tsinghua.

Reading between the lines, that seems to be one of the trip objectives. But when everyone jumps on the bandwagon and says it was a promo/marketing trip... well, critical Malaysians find it easier to play up a half-empty glass I suppose.

Anonymous said...

Its not empty of full or half full glasses. The point is our universities are sliding like crazy and Mustapha or the BN government have to determine the cause and remedies..

Anonymous said...

The point is, how the so-called collaboration can benefit both sides? MUST also has collaborations with MIT, but in the end we see nothing out from it. It is merely a marketing strategy adopted by our very dear minister in concealing the rot.

Anonymous said...

This could be better termed as to "do-a-Proton"

Anonymous said...

everyone wants to be seen as doing something, but unfortunately Mustafa is not going to fool us. If memory serves me right, how many blueprints, promises, this-and-that MoUs, agreements and collaborations have actually taken off and bore fruit?
Moreover, is mustafa's trip going to solve the ROOT cause of our universities' woes?
Yes, Malaysians are a cynical lot courtesy of 50 years under BN rule. So don't shoot those that genuinely want change.

Anonymous said...

If we are really concerned about the state of our universities and education, let us vote for a change in the system! Vote for the opposition!

Anonymous said...

lee song yong of the UPM fame has been suspended for one semester. reason? obstructing officers from confiscating his belonging. that's how low our university, unable to differentiate what is right or wrong.

i would like to suggest to those chinese students from china who are intending to study here, DO NOT COME! this country will only take your money to feed the malays. after that they will treat you like some low lifeforms, as they did to local no-malay citizens.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone read the Malaysiakini letter titled "Varsity rankings are like beauty contests"? It was hilarious, but its defensiveness is worthy of a Kelab Maya UMNO supporter. 100% for passion. MOHE must be proud of this lad.

Anonymous said...

Let's say there is indeed a collaboration between Tsinghua and UM - why was Mustapha there? Isn't it more likely that the vice-chancellor of UM and the academics involved be there instead?


Anonymous said...

Maybe because during that time Mustapha was the "acting VC of UM"?

Anonymous said...

Natasha Nabila Muhammad Nasir is the top 2007 PSLE student. With an aggregate score of 294, she has set a record as having achieved the highest marks in the 17 years since the current PSLE system was implemented in 1991.

Natasha is the daughter of a housewife and a technician.

It is heart warming to see that people gladly greeted this news without any prejudice.

Unlike in Malaysia, this sort of news, unfortunately, tends to elicit a cynical and suspicious response from some people, who question whether the results are above government officials’ intervention. Sadly, the government of the day has done a great disservice to the Malay community by their manipulative actions. So much so that almost everything from the government is lack of credibility and is viewed dubiously.

Anonymous said...

In the Singapore context, no one doubts that Natasha is deserving of the result.

This is a cleary a product that has deservedly resulted from 42 years of courageous open competition by the Singapore Malays since their independence.

See how far our own Bumi "scholars" have fallen behind the Singapore Malays within the span of our NEP years.

Competition forces one to be focussed on improving oneself, whereas our NEP tongkat has sadly but inevitably reduced masses of otherwise able men to become cripples within a country they themselves have dominated.

Yet the authorities are still seeking instant, short term relief by withdrawing further into their comfort zone in abandoning again the use of English in our schools.

We are surely diving headlong into academic, if not also economic, oblivion. TDM, and the half-past-six Cabinet that he has nurtured, will surely be remembered long past their last days. Perhaps not fondly.

Anonymous said...

In the natural process of evolution, competition brings out the best in us. Only the strongest, fittest or what ever positive attributes will manifest itself and the species will succeed.

In the Malaysian context this does not seem so. Here the weaker species are sheltered, protected, nurtured to survive. In the short run, this system might work. But not so in the long run.

By maintaining such ' life support system' you are not really helping the species. It will not mutate or adapt but will always have to depend on the ' cruthes' or 'tongkat' to survive. In fact this system will result in the proliferation of the species which ideally in nature would not have survived.

True. We must help the weak species but not in the form of non ending weaning off policy. The species must be helped and trained to survive. Teach them how to fish but not perpetually giving fish ad infinetum.

If we continue providing fish indefinitely ultimately we are doing injustice to the species that we want to help.

A species need to be strong and adaptable so that it will survive for its own good. Every species must have its pride and honour to stand equal with other species

The species must learn to work hard and fight for its survival. Then only the best will come forward which will be in the end be for the benefit of the species

We cannot court situations which counter the natural forces of evolution

1 Darwin Origin of Species
2 Brock Microbial Ecology
3 Senu Revolusi Mental
4 First Bumiputra Economic Congress
5 Mahathir Malay Dilemma

Anonymous said...

I know of a singaporean Malay who's actually moved his family to Malaysia when his kids finished primary schooling schooling in Singapore. It seems Malaysian citizenship is easy to obtain for his children from the maternal side who is malaysian. Apparently, they're doing well in Malaysian schooling so free scholarships possibly overseas won't be a problem. Sounds like a very good deal. The irony is, my friend, though given so many freebies for his family still keeps his Singapore citizenship. The reason, public healthcare in Singapore is subsidised for Malays, and he doesn't trust the Malaysian doctors and system. Some people just have it all.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Speaking of Brunei, a Brunei Malay friend of mine felt that the NEP and resulting rising racial tensions have gone too far, although I did tell him that Brunei has a very small population with alot of resources to go around. And moreover, getting Brunei citizenship is very very hard. Bruneians tend to be quite chauvinistic when it comes to Islam and their Malay identity, but once you are a Bruneian, you will have equal opportunities to education regardless of race or religion.

Anonymous said...

bodohlah's car tyre punctured on the way to changi airport? do you think singapore will allow such act to happen given their kiasuness to be the best? obviously the act was done on purpose, to put shame on bodohlah.

so you see bodohlah, you made yourself a clown well known. no one even has a slight respect of you, by giving you a punctured car ride. blame your sil khairy for putting you to fame. after all, he is the one defy you over and over again, thus making the public perceptions that you are impotent. you are a joke to malaysia, for being a pet of your sil.

go back sri perdana and enjoy your wife.

Anonymous said...

Let's compare the research qualities (data from qs):


Number of Papers 1,798
Number of Citations 11,888

Number of Papers 905
Number of Citations 4,647

Number of Papers 1,598
Number of Citations 3,821

Number of Papers 1,196
Number of Citations 1,070

Number of Papers 14,398
Number of Citations 57,872

Number of Papers 8,599
Number of Citations 19,577

So, where are we? i think Malaysia should be thankful instead that we are in the top 500. Go BN, you did well.

Nothing specific that prompts this Malaysia-Singapore comparison; just that since everyone here likes to do that, so i thought it would be fun.

More on

Anonymous said...

The previous comment is very interesting reading. What about other universities, e.g. unimas, uni sabah, uum?


Anonymous said...

My take on apex universities:

Anonymous said...

Take a look at this good article:

Top world universities are from developed countries: No way for any Malaysian university to be able to catch up with them