Friday, November 09, 2007

THES 2007 Rankings: Denial Syndrome Persists

There is plenty to blog about with regards to the latest Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) World University Rankings table which was released and blogged here yesterday. I've managed to obtain the full report earlier.

All of our universities which are "ranked" have fallen in positions. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) fell to 309th from 185th in 2006, Universiti Malaya (UM) to 246th (192) and Universiti Sains Malaysia to 307th (277)

One point however, sticks out. In a press conference yesterday held by some of the local vice-chancellors, the denial syndrome, a disease which has enveloped our academia has clearly not been cured since the days of Kapten Datuk Professor Dr Hashim Yaakob.

The vice-chancellors, including Datuk Rafiah Salim, of UM, gave several excuses for the dismal performance by Malaysian universities.

Firstly, they blamed the "change" in methodology for the drastic fall in rankings. It sounded as if the methodology was specifically tweaked to disadvantage Malaysian universities when in fact, it was tweaked to ensure greater transparency and accuracy.

As highlighted in the main THES rankings report:
In addition, we have strengthened our safeguards against individuals voting for their own university in the peer review part of the analysis." This improvement in methodology is certainly fair as it prevents the bias to vote for one's own institution.
And the result of the above change in methodology, as specifically highlighted in the full THES report, was the corresponding decline in Malaysian universities rankings!
But we suspect that some Malaysian and Singaporean institutions have lost out because of our increased rigour over voting for one’s own university, and there are no Malaysian universities in this top 200.
This clearly indicates that Malaysian universities were ranked better in previous years in part due to Malaysian academicians ranking their own universities highly when completing the survey! That's academic honesty for you, a la Malaysia.

Secondly, what was disgraceful, was Datuk Rafiah's attempts to de-sensitise Malaysia's dismal performance by arguing that Singapore suffered the same fate as well:
"Even the National University of Singapore (NUS) has dropped to the 33rd spot when it was always within the top 10."
Here, she is wrong on 2 counts. Firstly, NUS was and has never been a Top 10 ranked university. Last year, it was ranked 19th, falling 14 places to 33rd currently. It was ranked 22nd in 2005. Hence Datuk Rafiah Salim is guilty of citing wrong figures to prove her point, with the unintended consequence of epitomising the general quality of local research.

On the second count, NUS remains well within the Top 50 of the world and has not fluctuated more than 14 places over the past 4 years while UM tanked year after year! I don't know how Datuk Rafiah equated UM's plight to NUS's.

Then Datuk Rafiah complained that "The way [she] look at it, smaller countries like Malaysia are bound to lose out as THES has introduced new criteria which is peer review and has changed the citation and list of publications."

Again, it's a case of self-pity which will not take Malaysian academic standards anywhere. Singapore is some 480 times smaller than Malaysia in terms of land area and 6 times smaller in terms of population. That didn't seem to stop them from having 2 universities ranked within the Top 100. Other developing countries such as South Africa, Mexico, Taiwan and Brazil also has universities ranked within the Top 200.

Finally, she asked for more money.
If we want to compete with some of the top universities in the world, first we have to be in the same league. Right now, we are not. One way to overcome that is through adequate funding.
No, Datuk Rafiah, the first thing to do isn't asking for new funding. Giving lots of money to half-baked researchers and academics isn't going to improve the quality of the universities by very much. It's not too dissimilar to the Government's effort of launching our so-called "space programme" by paying the taxi fare for a Malaysian to go to space. Or for that matter, more money could just mean more funds for the academically meaningless pursuit of worthless coloured medals.

The first things to do, has to be the following (in simple terms, as elaborated in other blog posts):
  1. Recruit the best lecturers and academicians from Malaysia and all over the world, instead of focusing on race, nationality and patronage.

  2. Enrol the best students qualified for each faculty, instead of the current ambiguous and seemingly random university and course allocation.

  3. Practice transparency in all aspects of the academia, from recruitment to promotions of academics, as well as setting clearly defined minimum entry requirements into every course and publishing such data post every enrolment cycle.
The above are well within the rights and functions of both the Ministry of Higher Education and the university administrators. The question is, whether the authorities are willing to face up to the challenges and weakness of our current system, and take the hard but absolutely necessary actions to raise the bar.

Without the required political will, Malaysian universities will be doomed to further demise particularly if we are preoccupied with treating the superficial symtoms such as recruiting more foreign students from 3rd world countries, instead of tackling the core issues.

I was happy to provide Datuk Rafiah Salim the benefit of the doubt when she was first appointed as UM's vice-chancellor as blogged here. However, her recent statements, her immature treatment of Dr Azmi Sharom plus her outburst at the recently concluded student leaders' meet certainly lowered my confidence in her ability to turn things around. For someone who claimed that raising UM's ranking on THES is one of her 3 core tasks, she definitely appears to be failing her own benchmarks, and failing badly at that.

Footnote: Let me emphasize that it gives me no pleasure to find Malaysian universities dropping out of the Top 200 list. I certainly wish that we have representation among the Top 50 universities, and that'll be something I'll be extremely proud of. But the state of affairs of our higher education requires a "extreme makeover", and demands the harshest of constructive criticisms. Molly-coddling the issues as our government has done over the past decades will not miraculously result in our problems fade away.


Anonymous said...

None of us wish to see our universities to plunge deeper and deeper. But, unfortunately, the suggestions brought up by you will not be materialized. The mentality of defending the special rights have rooted for decades, and if these ideas are to be implemented, the privileged one will surely feel that they "kena rompak", as usual....

Is admitting certain mistakes that difficult? sigh~

Anonymous said...

The very first thing to do is to recruit a more dynamic and caliber administrator. If the top people do not change, nothing will happen even if you recruit top scholar in the world.

Anonymous said...

No, the first thing to do is to have a Malaysia truly for Malaysians and not the load of crap that is overriding the potentials of the country. Even UTAR boasts too much than what they really are. There are so many successful ones who have left the country, if only they were given a chance in their own country, we would have been competing against the best and especially with our wealth in resources, would have found some niche in the scientific world.

I am surprised that we are even ranked in the top 500 in THES. I thought other rankings don't even have our universities at top 1000.


Anonymous said...

THES emphasised too much on peer review. If based on the methodology of Shanghai JiaoTung, that does not use peer review, Malaysian universities are not listed in the top 500.

Anonymous said...

If Rafeah Salim is the typical example of the right choice of candidate for the Vice Chancellor of a local university it forebodes the dark future of academic quality of our local universities where politics rather than true blue academic substance determines the university

I personally have from the beginning have my doubts as to her capabilities to head the university. But the powers that may be seemed to decide she is the best candidate for the post. I see nothing in her that is highly held up as icon of a university stewardship. but as usual Mustapha has other brilliant plans or bright ideas. Now its time for all those concerned to eat the grapes of wrath, or to continue self deceit and self denial.
Dear Nero, please keep on playing the violin while Rome burns

Anonymous said...





Anonymous said...

we should not even be in the top 200 in the first place.

everything is going down and down. how pathetic.
more funding? solve the oil crisis and stop sending people up into space for nothing first.

cs said...

I think the first problem is the general difficulty in enrolling in the local unis.

I'm an asean scholar and amongst my circle of friends from msia who are also asean scholars, we have dropped the local unis from our consideration completely due to the extreme hassle in getting in with our qualifications (GCE A-Levels).

Plus the fact that we hold singapore qualifications means we no longer can apply for the various scholarships as most of them clearly demand some form of msian qualification.

The less well off amongst us can thus only apply to either NTU or NUS due to financial constraints or hope for some sort of scholarship.

There are so many obstacles for us to return back to our country, and many other better universities offer an easier way through, for example applying to UK unis via UCAS.

Isn't it obvious what's going to happen?

The disturbing state of the administration (such as the UPM incident IIRC) does not help either.

TK said...

I doesn't matter which is the best university in Malaysia anymore...What matters is that where our universities stand globally...It's useless if UM or UKM is Jaguh Kampung but ranked lowly in world ranking...

It's not essential to obtain top ranking, but the being among the top universities show where our universities stand...

Anonymous said...

I repeat below a comment on your post about the UM VC last year. It was not me, of course, but what that blogger said is all ringing true now, congratulations.

"Anonymous 9/18/2006 09:15:00 AM
If you think so highly of Rafeah Salim having charisma, you must be listening to her with your eyes closed, ears closed and your brain in " switch off" position!

In the first place she has nothing! Nothing to merit at all being a VC.

Try talking to her why she failed to get her PhD!...then only make your conclusions

9/18/2006 09:15:00 AM"

I have myself mentioned last year that when I watched her TV interview when she was appointed, she was boasting about some UN body wanting to extend her contract. What I highlighted then was that you should have seen her completely arrogant demeanour when she was saying all that - her body language then spoke of someone too just arrogant to have any significant vision to amount to anything, VC-wise. Let us also not forget that arrogance begets a closed mind.

Anonymous said...


The VC's reaction now is so like the fictional "Ah-Q" mentality - "it is totally in order to do badly if I can satisfy myself that someone I know is also suffering."

I am now wondering how much money we have spent to hire ppl just to give ourselves good reviews. Looking at the sheer drop, one can imagine the amount of time that had been redirected to cook up such reviews.

Anonymous said...

Our UNMOmorons could certainly learn a thing or two from Lü Xun's Ah-Q or Malaysia might end up with Ah Q's fate in the future.

As I Was Saying... said...

If we want to compete with some of the top universities in the world, first we have to be in the same league. Right now, we are not. One way to overcome that is through adequate funding. - Datuk Rafiah.


What she means is that she needs FUND from the government to BUY(remember this word, BUY) University Malaya into FIRST RANKING Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) World University Rankings, just as the government has provided the FUND for the first Malaysian Space Tourist.

Anonymous said...

if u talking abt BUYing the ranking.. NUS already doing such thing for sooo long.. see the NUS academic staff.. most of them are reputable prof from oversea (i.e. Prof Mujumdar from Mcgill), some even with 200 citation/year.. so that is enough to do something in the ranking... after all the citation is counted as citation/faculty..

Anonymous said...

It is because citation is counted as per faculty member, hiring a few well known profs would not make a difference. The vast majority of the faculty has to perform. That is my contention that even if we start today with meritocracy, it will still take many years before we see an improvemnent. Singapore took over a decade. Also, when Singapore started, their faculty number was also smaller and turn-over was fast, aided by the low retirement age. In Malaysia, we are talking thousands of faculty members not performing and you have to wait for them to retire. Their replacements must be capable younger people appointed by meritocracy, otherwise you are not changing anything. But the way it is, it really looks like an impossible task. The problem is made worse by a govt with its head in the sand and desensitized to the ranking. The universities keep asking for more money. For what? It is actually cheaper to just give up on the present bunch of people and start a brand new university. But then, if you look at MUST and UTAR, you would just give up too.

Anonymous said...

How about IMU, Monash and Nottingham University? I think their faculty members are much better than IPTA lecturer. It will be interesting to see how those university pan out in the international and local ranking.

Anonymous said...

Monash is within the top 50.

Anonymous said...

monash and nottingham are ranked together with their home campus in aus and the uk, respectively, hence they are no seperate entities, where monash msia, monash s. africa, monash australia, nottingham msia, nottingham uk, nottingham ningbo, china, are concerned.

IMU is basically a medical school with little research interest. no research, no ranking.

Anonymous said...

But in reality what about the real performance if Monash Malaysia or Nottingham is ranked individually?
I bet it would be no better than Segi, Inti or Sedaya....hehe

Anonymous said...

"But in reality what about the real performance if Monash Malaysia or Nottingham is ranked individually?"

It will be worse than MMU so sure. The students of Monash Malaysia or Nottingham are paying exorbitant fees for the brand only, but they are receiving poor education. I really pity those parents, they are still thinking their money is well spent.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, not to hijack the thread. I'm thinking of studying pharmacy/medicine and wonder which university is the best, Monash, IMU, Nottingham or IPTA (UM, UKM, USM). I know Monash and Nottingham is in the same league in the THES but not sure whether the Malaysia campus have retain those quality as most lecturers are graduates from Malaysia. On the other hand, IMU is a local IPTS and was not ranked in any of the survey, so not sure how good they are. But from words, it seems that the faculty members quality is defininately better than IPTA (most have overseas degree or PhD and some good quality publications). Will be interesting to see how good they are when the LAN rurvey release.

Anonymous said...

great post tony. My own analysis is found here

Anonymous said...

NUS ranking of 33 is still a bit high. If you take out the peer review and international student/faculty score completely, you would come close to Shanghai JiaoTung's ranking, which ranks NUS as about 100, which is about what I think it should be. Even in that ranking, NUS still has a slight advantage because Shanghai JiaoTung's ranking favored universities with medical schools.
NUS is very good but not yet in the top 50.
Someone here mentioned about hiring a few big names at UM or UKM to boost the ranking. If you look at UT-Dallas, which used to have a nobel prize winner, it was nowhere in the THES ranking. That is because you need many more than just a few people. That is why hiring Jeffrey Sach does not make a difference other than just a publicity and political stunt.
As for funding, Malaysia created its own problems by having so many mickey-mouse universities all over the place.
Remember the RM500 million for the Cambridge project? They have the money if they want to spend but the question is are they just wasting it?

Anonymous said...

you simply cannot have monash and nottingham's campus split up and individually ranked. you wont get an individual ranking of cornell university dubai, or carnegie mellon university adelaide will you?

to the anonymous poster seeking advice for pharmacy/medicine. the first advice would be: make up your mind first on the course you wish to study. both courses are vastly different, with different areas of study covered and different work environment after graduation. please choose the one that suits YOUR needs, and not of others (such as parents).

NUS's humanities and social science ranking is highly overrated. for a cultural desert like spore ruled under an authoritarian dictatorship, having a humanities and social science ranking higher than NYU and MIT is sheer blasphemy. the only cultures spore has are the art of surviving desperation, and the art of kiasuness, unless they published tons of papers in them and are heavily cited, there is no way spore could rank as such in the humanities and social sciences. THES is just a sham.

Anonymous said...

"NUS's humanities and social science ranking is highly overrated. for a cultural desert like spore ruled under an authoritarian dictatorship, having a humanities and social science ranking higher than NYU and MIT is sheer blasphemy."

Which is the reason why Warwick scuttled their plans for a campus there in the first place.

"Even in that ranking, NUS still has a slight advantage because Shanghai JiaoTung's ranking favored universities with medical schools."

Medical schools are very research intensive. The schools that offer the "new" intercalated MBBS/BMedSc courses expect students to research and write a paper. And traditionally, medical schools are richly endowed by public abd private funding - hence the ability to fund researches, and a better standing in the research oriented Shanghai JiaoTung rankings.

As the previous poster rightly put it, getting into Medicine is not everything and moreover, it's a vocation that may not suit every personality no matter how good your grades may be. I see alot of parents nowadays expect every single of of their children to get into Medicine, even when they are clearly not interested. It is unfortunate that the current mindset is the one that if your grades could cut through, then get into medicine and do something else later if not interested. Parents are mainly to blame when they suppress their kids' ambitions for say the Arts, Law, the Political Sciences or even Accounting and this is clearly a waste of talent, and a waste of public funding and medical school places for those with the right aptitude for the medical profession. I might sound like I'm pouring cold water on aspiring doctors but it's a sad development not just in Malaysia but accross the world as well.

Anonymous said...

I'm interested in both Pharmacy AND Medicine. Believe me, I know what I want to be and not because it's the choice of my parents. In fact, I'm not from a rich family and my parents aren't able to sponsor me for those degrees. I saved up over the years by having a few jobs day and night. I just wanted to find out which is the best pharmacy or medical school in town as I can't find any information about the quality of IMU, Nottingham and Monash. I'm can't afford to pursue my dream overseas even though we know that the overseas degree is much better than local. The living expenses in UK and Australia is just too high. It's much appreciated, if anyone can enlighten me the quality of the aforementioned universities or have experience from those universities. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Not defending the Malaysia indoctri-ducation system which I think needs 110% fixing, but it would be wise to take observe that such high variability every single year in a highly subjective ranking, from the top tiers to the bottom, imho really point to how useless this ranking is as anything other than an extremely coarse grained scoring of universities using the _particular_ point system (which I suspect often changes) that year.

How much information do we really glean from the 'fact' that MIT dropped from 4th to 10th overall. Or that U.HongKong has leapfrogged from 33rd to 18th past Stanford. Or that Eindhoven has been slid to 130 from 67 in a single year. Universities are such huge machineries with so much inertia and friction with regards to change, especially overall systemic change that would that be needed to improve/degrade itself, and such changes would only be reflected over many years if not decades. In an ideal ranking (which IMHO cannot exist), I would think huge annual movements like the ones I pointed out should be an aberration - a statistical anomaly, not the norm as it is in these rankings.

There is no magic bullet. By the way, I have not been a student at any of these universities, and I would not presume to tell you which of them is better than the other.

Does anyone who looks at these numbers actually take them seriously? Personally, I can't bring myself to accept these rankings (these and the multitude of others available) as a never ending turn based game between the university administrators - who have a high level of temptation to cook the books and numbers to gain an advantage in whatever the fashionable ranking of the day and location (e.g. US News College rankings excites US university officials a lot more than THES with regards to finding ways to gain favorable numbers. I have no idea what other rankings are in play in Asia, Africa, Europe). Then, there is the publisher of the rankings who seem to change ranking methodologies every year for better 'accuracy' that also conveniently serve to shake up the rankings significantly (why would they do such a thing one wonders? After all, doesn't a table of rankings that has extremely minor changes year after year makes such compelling reading and makes you want to cough up your money ... /sarcasm). Luckily for both of them, it seems that gullible people are in no short supply.

Non-withstanding the many other problems I feel are present here, I'd encourage people to fully qualify to themselves what exactly they think they are looking at when they go through these rankings (btw , available at ). Here is mine: Using the undisclosed methodology for selection of peers, the utterly ambiguous employer and staff/student, and the highly suspect utility of international staff and student score, the many other missing (and still subjective!) criteria I personally believe should also have been used, I'd say this survey is a decent way of getting to know the names of some well known universities around the world, but I would need to be stark raving mad to use this as evidence of anything other an _extremely_ coarse indicator of the reputation of a university, if that. Do yourself a favor and apply the principle upon which the university was founded on, critical thinking, to these stats before using them for whatever you would.

- Allen

Anonymous said...

I would say between nottingham, monash and IMU, I think monash would be good. You'll get recognized by both Malaysia and Australia.

More options for you later on. Like obtaining a specialization in Aus.

Monash academic years are in KL and clinical is in JB.

Or you could try NUS. though it's quite impossible given that they admit abt 5 foreign students a year. Tuition grant would mean u pay about 20k sgd a year (compared to monash 70k ringgit a year), then you'll have to work for a few years after that in Singapore.

NUS looks the best. The problem is you have to get all your As and have a really good portfolio.

Anonymous said...

Faculty members don't care much about ranking because our salaries do not depend on that. But our salaries do depend on publications that are used by these ranking organizations. Students do treat these rankings seriously. Therefore, administrators do pay attention to these rankings. In the US, we are more interested in the US News rankings rather than THES. For US universities, I think the US News rankings do give a better idea as to the relative quality of a university in the US. Malaysian students should be careful about using the THES rankings because I think any of the top 2 tiers national universities in the US would still be better than any Malaysian universities eventhough some may not even be listed in THES. I prefer Shanghai JiaoTung as a better guide for global comparison.

Anonymous said...

i really do hope you know what you wanna study, pharmacy or medicine. anyway, this is my take on the institutions.

monash msia pharmacy isnt starting until 2009. its medical programme is recognised both in australia and msia.

nottingham msia pharmacy is recognised in both britain and msia. nottingham msia does not offer medicine.

IMU offers several medicine pathways:
1)the IMU degree- although the cheapest, you can only practice medicine in msia, and some other 3rd world countries, like sri lanka.
2)PMS(partner medical schools)- basically they are twinning options, with a wide range of medical schools to choose from, you could check the website for this.

IMU's pharmacy has 3 options:
1) IMU's degree- basically, can only practice in msia, albeit the cheapest.
2) 3.5 years twinning with uni of strathclyde, scotland. (its got a good pharm school, btw). but since its only 3.5years, by law, you cant practice pharm in the UK.
3) 4years twinning in strathclyde, now the requirements of the law have been met, you can practice in both the UK and msia, and being able to practice in the UK, opportunities are also open to you in places like spore, hk, australia, new zealand etc.

each option has its own pro and cons. if you plan on staying only in msia till the time of your death, the cheaper local options could be great, if, as you said, you are restricted by your financial ability. if you are willing to pay more for the opportunities overseas, then by all means do so.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha, I agree, NUS is way over ranked and NUS is obsessed about its ranking, really insecure little university. And I am an NUS undergraduate, its a nice place but it tries way way too hard to look cool.

Anonymous said...

I think all should avoid doing medicone and pharmacy. Its simply the case of too many graduates and the field too saturated.

Just go to subang jaya in the area of SJ, USJ including sunway area and count how many pharmacy shops are there!!! Then there are the pharmacy shops run by the Vitacare, Guardian etc
On top of it even the larger hospitals have their own pharmacies
And too make things worst with this competition, small and private clinics are selling medicines
Haiyo!!! How to survive ??

I even heard a pharmacist talking to his colleagues in one of the bigger pharmacy shops how little they are paid...hehe

Further to that government hospitals provide free or cheap medicines to government servants and the poor

As regard to clinics, the golden days of medicines are over. There are too many clinics around and some doing moonshining locum.... mati lor

And every year more and more doctors and pharmacists are flooding the market. Tak cayer tanyer MMA ....

Watever still the choice better than doing biomedical science...hehe

Anonymous said...

When I was an A-Level student, I had the opportunity for a week of work experience in a field of our choice. Like the many young Malaysians who went to the UK for their A-Levels hoping to eventually read Medicine; I spent that time shadowing a houseman and a Pathologist in an NHS hospital. I could still vividly remember my first day of my work experience, being struck by the stench of the general medical ward, the smoke filled nurses' common room (at that time), horrified by the long hours I had to spend with the houseman on my first day, and a haughty surgeon who very nearly kicked me out of theatre if not for his registrar.

I don't know if they have this in Malaysia but I believe such experiences like what I've had would be very beneficial for those considering the medical vocation at a pre-tertiary stage. Very often, as I've come across over time; many have barged in not knowing what to expect or "did not expect it to be like this". There are those who were completely turned off by that 1 week in some other hospitals, and those who were inspired and reinforced by the experience. There are those who have opted out of medical school along the way and there are those who persisted only to leave medicine for something else. There are those who've evolved into inspiring personalities in their chosen specialty and to their colleagues, as where those who were their antithesis.

1 week or even a few days during the holidays just for the experience should serve as a good "taster" not just for those aspiring to be doctors and scientists, but in any profession of your choice. This may help you decided if the course you are to embark may be the one that is suited to you. After all, the greater part of your lifetime (other than sleep) is spent at work...and more so for doctors.

Anonymous said...

Yes i agree that NUS is over-rated. In fact, i think the whole island is too damn obsessed with rankings, figures and statistics. Don't believe me? Just ask the locals. It is no surprise why they're top brains are fleeing. Hence, the "attractive" remuneration packages for foreigners to migrate to the state island.

Anonymous said...

First of all, i think many of you are not happy with NUS, which i wonder why. Those who have not experienced education such as NUS's are not in position to say such and such. NUS pride herself as a research institute, and well-known in terms of citation, scoring a high of 80+ out of 100. If you want to compare, Malaysian universities are just junks painted with fresh paints. So, before criticising others, look at the shirt you wear.

a malaysian at NUS.

Anonymous said...

Why is that Shanghai JiaoTung ranked NUS between 102-150?

Anonymous said...

look i said that nus is over ranked, not that nus sucks. its a pretty good institution, its got excellent profs and the reason why most singaporeans dont stay is because todays world is so globalised, almost no one stays where they are born. singapore is no heaven, but if if u leave it alone it leaves u alone. and for all the singapore haters here, trust me living in singapore is far better than in malaysia especially if ur an undergraduate. i am not averse to criticsim of nus, in fact i criticise it all the time but lets not get all singapore bashing here ok. oh and by the way u know which institution are way over ranked on thes, the british ones, come on imperial better than chicago?,ucl better than columbia? oxbridge better than mit?nus undergrad

Anonymous said...

I have no doubt with NUS ranking. I was attended a shot course (about 3 weeks) at NUS before and I can feel the sincerity of the SG gov on education. Which, I will say in here you will not get it.

Anonymous said...

I think the root of all these arguments is the poor ranking by THES & QS. Almost all of the asian-australian universities are over-rated. C'mon guys, the universities in US, UK, and Europe are way way better than NUS, ANU, Monash, etc. But yet they are ranked so poorly. HKU, ANU, Tokyo, ranked better than Stanford and CMU?!? Come on!

Anonymous said...

I am doing PHD here in Malaysia and have studied in 2 countries before.

Regarding the weaknesses of Malaysian universities I want to admit all those problems.

- The quality of education in Malaysia (at least in USM which has been called the best this year) is very weak. Lecturers are sometimes not aware of the most basic concepts of their field. It is shocking for me to see this. In my own country most of the lecturers have done their PHD in US system (at least 9 PHD level courses + PHD qualification exam + thesis). In the school I am working except 2 lecturers all others have done their PHDs in British system. I looked at every single of them. Not even one of the 35 lecturers have done their PHD in a university which appears in Thes 200 list.

This is a Disaster!

As a result (of not covering those 8-10 PHD courses) these lecturers have a very narrow knowledge around their research thesis and nothing more.

- Selection: I am coming from 2nd university of my country (quality wise) and because that university was very tough my average (despite I was the 2nd best student in my graduation year) is around 2.9/4. School had asked me to pass 2 prerequisite courses before starting research. I regret that when I attended the lecture I saw sometimes I know much more than the lecturer about that subject!! Lecturers did not have deep knowledge in the subject.

In my country the school had 75 years of experience in that field but had 20-25 PHD students (and 35-40 PHD, AP and Prof. lecturers) but here in USM the department has 170 PHD and Masters by research students (No professor, 8 AP and remaining are PHD)

- Supervisors here sometimes have 15 PHD and Masters by research students. How is this possible? You calculate how much time will be allocated to each student, specially that lecturers have courses too.

- I do not speak about racial based problems in the school as I am a foreigner.

- Any way I regret of doing my research degree here (as I know it does not have much value). I wish I had money to do it in my own or another country.

Anonymous said...

- In USM people in my school seem to be unaware of ISI. In my country papers outside ISI publications have definitely no value. Here I look into lecturers Resume and see some of them do not have even a single ISI paper.

- The school has accepted hundreds of students from specific countries (which I do not name) and those students (in school of computer science) do no how to program. A PHD student here (coming from one of those countries) says I can not do Java or C, I only know Visual Basic!!!

He wants to become a PHD in computer science, go back to his country and say I have my PHD from USM and I just know visual Basic!!!

Then you will be surprised why people say USM's quality is crap (no one will suspect after speaking with our computer PHD friend which does not even know a proper programming language)

By the way most of these students (coming from those countries) have averages above 3/4 !!!

- With this kind of quality it is not strange for me that we do not have ISI papers and we do not do serious research. We just pretend to do research.

Anonymous said...

I hope AAB and Mustafa of MOHE will read the above comments and face the truth!

Anonymous said...

Barisan Najis MPs face the truth? In your dream lah!

Monkeys lead better than those SHIT.

Anonymous said...

I did undergraduate courses at both UM in the 70s and NUS in the 80s, in different disciplines. I had good lecturers in UM in the 70s, 2 of whom later moved over to NUS, and then to NTU. 2 others went over to Australia, I believe. So "laku" they were. All those lecturers were Chinese and Indians, and I not saying this with racist intent but just to state facts.

Even comparing the UM lecturers then with my NUS lecturers a few years later, the gulf between the two groups of lecturers in terms of motivation and ability is wide indeed. But wider still is the difference you can see and feel in the two governments' attitude in striving for the best quality of education for their students.

That was then, so you can imagine how much worse off we are now, seeing how NUS has improved by leaps and bounds since.

It is most vile and unfounded to say most of those things printed above about NUS - as a matured student at NUS, I see freedom of expression, I see most helpful academic and administrative staff, and I see a truly intellectually-enhancing environment.

To say, for example, that NUS is obsessed with rankings, is not saying anything at all, other than bad-mouthing for the sake of bad-mouthing. What is wrong with obsession with rankings if it is making all efforts to achieve it? It is infantile to suggest that NUS, or any uni for that matter, could have been in the top 50 of the THES merely from abusing the peer review avenue to gain marks. In my view, and as expressed by another blogger earlier, you really have to be in NUS to appreciate the meaning of the concept of "effort", and the idea that we should "be the best we can be", one of the many campaign slogans over which Singapore was made fun of.

Armchair criticism of NUS, or Singapore for that matter, such as labelling it "not a real country", is not going to get Malaysia or any or its numerous universities anywhere.

Singapore is not perfect, obviously, and I returned to Malaysia as I did not want my kids to grow up is such a competitive (NOT stiffling) environment. I want them to be able to slow down and smell the roses.

Regrettably, hardly had I moved back 10 years when I felt compelled (yes, COMPELLED) to move my family overseas, seeing my dear country's freefall into certain oblivion in almost every aspect of life.

So let us not have the "crabs in the bucket syndrome" - let us climb up with effort, and not be satisfied just to drag others down to our own level of abject mediocrity.

On the chap who so want to do the medical sciences, I suggest you try the unis in New Zealand. Not only is the quality of education good (perhaps more than just good, from what I see of their graduates), but it is among the cheapest overseas education one can get. In NZ, the medical science courses are generally reserved only for citizens and PRs, but a few places are allotted to an arrangement with IMU in Malaysia, I believe. Like twinning. I personally know of 2 friends whose kids (one a daughter and the other a son) went that way, graduated from Auckland U, in the same batch actually, and are now working as housemen in NZ. Take a look.

I do not know what your chances are to get in there, but you may also like to know that education in Germany is free, even for foreigners - perhaps you can have a look. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

For my curiosity, how do you get a full THES report?

Anonymous said...

Anon of 11/13/2007 08:13:00 PM: Don't say that NUS is not obsessed with ranking. It used to be that if you visited NUS website, the first thing you would see at the top right hand corner was that NUS was the top 20 in the world. Some people here are trying to put things in proper perspective because it is true that THES ranking is flawed because of the heavy reliance on peer review and international students. Obviously, there are also people who made critical comments just for the fun of it. Always remember that because of the anonymity of blog comments, sometimes you may be arguing with some teenagers. But then, there are also prople who are knowledgeable, who may be faculty members from elsewhere, and who have seen the world. Therefore you cannot criticise people just because you don't like their "armchair" comments. Having said that, I agree that NUS is world-class because I have been a visitor there and I know people there, but the argument here is whether it should be in the top 50 at this moment in time. That is a bit arguable if you have been to top universities in the US and elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

from what i gather here u guys are arguing whether nus is good or world class, arent we getting a little side tracked here we should be arguing whether our unis are pathetic or uber pathetic, ohh and of course we should be giving causes and recommendations.

Anonymous said...

Right, we are way too far. In a nutshell, Malaysian universities sucks. How can people easily proceed to Master's degree with just a three years course without an honours there? Crap, i should have stayed back for tertiary education. I would save years working up the ladder.

Anonymous said...

"How can people easily proceed to Master's degree with just a three years course without an honours there?"

- Actually, Malaysia follows the UK 3 year degree with honours (depending on grades and dissertation), so I don't think that statement is correct. The US on the otherhand requires 4 years to complete a degree, and Australia 3 years without honours plus an additional honours year (4th year). In addition, it's not impossible to get accepted into certain Masters courses at a few big name Aussie unis armed with just a generalist 3 year degree (without honours).

But other than that, you are correct in your assessment that Malaysian universities are in a bad shape.

Anonymous said...

The number of years to do a degree depends on the faculty. Generally science takes 4 years and arts 3 years long ago.(70s and 80's)

In the science degree then only those that passed a certain standard are allow to go to year 4 or the honours course for further specialisation

A few year later the science degree becomes a 4 year course and no longer a two tiered structure of general degree plus one year honours. Everybody that passed year 3 goes into honours year.

a few years later arts decided to convert its 3 year degree to a 4 year degree. (Maybe they realized they dont learn enough!)

Following that for what reason or rhyme by the government, it was decided to revert to a 3 year degree course in science

Now its back to a 4 year degree again (maybe the government re realized again that a 3 year degree course produced three quarter cooked graduate)

In the future I dont know depending on the whims of UNMO or the University or MOHE, but it will definitely be a pi mai pi mai tang tu case

Anonymous said...

I just came back to Malaysia and looked at the rankings. I want to ask what all of you think about INTI University College? Is it a good uni or does it suck like most of the rest? Three of my cousins urged me to enrol there.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that some of the Aussie unis like La Trobe that our unis are twinning here, are not even in the top 200 too!

Anonymous said...

In fact, quite a numbers of foreign universities which have twinning collaboration with our local tertiary institutions are not as "world-class" as the advertisements have claimed. I thought this has been discussed in this blog in the past.

Anonymous said...

do u think curtin uni is a good uni???

Anonymous said...

Curtin is a POLYTECHNIC. It was "upgraded" to University status when Australia went on profit making education plans.

You see for yourself if it has come up to University standard or not loh.

Anonymous said...

For every single one of us who thinks Singapore and NUS are obssessed with rankings, you are obssessed with hating them.

For those who say NUS don't deserve top 50, give us your methodology and rank for us to see. It's easy to throw stones, but can you build the castle?

And stop being so obssessed with forign (Western) Universities. Our Asian Universities are comparable. It's just the marketing.

For that NUS Undergrad (u sure u are real?) who said NUS sucks, why did you go there?! Maybe you are the one with problem?

I agree with the guy who said we should not be crabs ina bucket. So what if we drag Singapore and NUS to our level? We don't climb by doing that!

Anonymous said...

Lee Quan You must be rolling on the floor laughing reading this blog

Anonymous said...

Education, in its core meaning, basically means to draw out the best in oneself. An excellent education enables one to grow holistically and to find his own stand in the society. The best Us in the world do not necessarily guarantee a happy and easy life and graduates from a U ranked 400+ are not hopeless cases. All these rankings are seen as yardstick to measure the excellence of education. At the end of the day, all said and done, we all just want to be happy. Simple but true.

There is a report in the local newspaper today about a 12-year-old girl who committed suicide. It is not proven, but there is a strong link of her death to her UPSR results. When disheartening news like this is heard, one wonders…what is the meaning of a certificate? What more rankings of Universities.

Millions graduate from world class universities every year. Muhammad Yunus received his first degree from Dhaka University, Bangladesh. Wangari Muta Maathai obtained her PhD from University of Nairobi. Both are Nobel Peace Prize laureates and both studied in universities that are not in the top 200 according to THES rankings this year. Were/Are their contributions to the society any less than a Harvard graduate?

If you factor time out and replace it with determination in the equation, you can achieve anything you want. Many life lessons are learnt outside of the classroom. It is the person that you become at the end of the day that counts, not what number university you come from.


Anonymous said...

well said, Leigh C. Couldn't agree more

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

True. Thus, the attempts of our minister of higher education intending to attract more foreign student to local universities, despite the fact that many locals cannot get the chance, have shown that he himself does not understand the core and the essence of education. It is hopeless when he told the university faculties to publish more paper in order to raise up the ranking. How short-sighted and ignorant is him? Apparently, this is the quality of our ministers.

Anonymous said...

hello i didnt say that nus sucks, i was just pointing out a few things that I feel are wrong with the uni. Its entirely my opinion and in nus u are allowed to your opinion. its called self criticism and its a thing that most malaysians seem to be unfamiliar with i wouldnt be here if i thot the nus sucks, but that doesnt mean i cant criticize it. nus undergrad

Anonymous said...

someone said that nus is obsessed with rankings and even put it on their webpage.

now tell me is there any local universities like um, usm, ukm dare to put something similar as that on their websites?

perhaps like "we are the top 500 in the world" or "we are the best according to mohe" or "we don't believe in biased ranking".

i do know that they declared the medals won at those international exhibitions (which waste money) anyway.

but are those medals any worth?

go and enjoy your dirty laundry.

smell it and have a sweet dream.

Anonymous said...

I wholly and totally oppose the way THES ranking was carried out. All universities ranking should be more holistic which encompasses graduate and undergrad level as if that's the general ranking for all universities. Should there be ranking it must be based on citations, publications, post student annual income and relevant variables. If that's the case, I would hypothesize that none of Malaysian universities can even make it to the top 400 ranking in the world. Be it that Singaporean U would turn out to be performing less than ideal.
I think THES ranking is a flop


Anonymous said...

to LeighC:

They are the Nobel Peace Prize winners, be more analytical and logical minded, don't comment just for the sake of commenting, it does not show you anyway smarter. nobel peace is about sacrifice and promotion of world peace and it doesnot need to be even a college graduate. even Mother Teresa got it. Even if you could manage to discover some scientific contribution without a college degree, anyone may get a Nobel, it's not a pre requisite in Nobel.


Anonymous said...

to LeighC,

Let me clarify again since the aforementioned is abit ambiguous. Having said scientific contribution and discovery of the millennium, it is not something you can achieve without great education. Please go through Harvard journals or MIT publications, there's where the intellectuals were greatly educated to understand the complex science and the latest phenomena, Harvard or MIT is not a graduate producing factory except the business school, they recruit students or professor provide space and time for their research, it's more than just a school to teach whereas when graduated you don't even use 10% of what you learnt. If someone has the ability to discover and invent, I am sure they need funding and resources for their research even though you are innate genius. Clearly you don't fully comprehend the meaning of research universities, moreover experienced it. name me one Nobel laureutes (except the PEace Price) who didn't receive 'good education'. you ll be baffled how far Harvard research is ahead of us. fyi, 5 years ago i read about Harvard physics research about STOPING THE LIGHT, yes stopping the (photon)LIGHT from emitting. top that, man.


Anonymous said...

"It is the person that you become at the end of the day that counts, not what number university you come from"

only if you are Mother Teresa otherwise totally bullshit, you don't even realize you are being governed or affected by systems or ideas created or manipulated by a group of intellectuals and academicians. we are all living in a systems where we are towing the line of norms set by intellectuals, not we are above the well being of social contract. i am not sure whether you understand or see what I saw.

Anonymous said...

"It is the person that you become at the end of the day that counts, not what number university you come from"

only if you are Mother Teresa otherwise totally bullshit, you don't even realize you are being governed or affected by systems or ideas created or manipulated by a group of intellectuals and academicians. we are all living in a systems where we are towing the line of norms set by intellectuals, not we are above the well being of social contract. i am not sure whether you understand or see what I saw.