Yes, in the just released rankings table by THES, no Malaysian universities are listed on it. Critics are obviously going to have a field day. But they are certainly not going to be raising many issues which we do not already know. The fact that our universities are not competitive, are not rigourous in nature, do not promote and encourage merit and the total lack of transparency in admission and recruitment exercises served the perfect recipe for continual decline in global recognition and quality.
For the latest summary rankings table, you can get it here.
What are our vice-chancellors and Ministers going to say next? (Click here to read what they said last year) That the rankings are irrelevant? That they are inaccurate? That they fail to take into consideration that our universities are laden with "national interest" concerns? That we will speed up the recruitment of foreign lecturers and students?
This new set of data of course makes a complete mockery of the maiden attempt to rank our local universities, as blogged by Kian Ming recently. While the effort to increase transparency is laudable, the sheer lack of rigour in the local university ranking analysis renders the result superficial at best, misleading at worst. Universiti Sains Malaysia was ranked "excellent" for example, in the local official rankings table, but is clearly no where to be found in the THES or the Shanghai Jiaotung University ranking tables. At the same time, 6 other local universities were ranked "good". Has this become the manner by which the Malaysian government define mediocrity? That being "mediocre" (or worse) can be translated as "excellent" or "good"?
This blog found its "kick" sometime in November 2005, almost exactly 2 years ago, when we exposed the laughable mistake made by the surveyors when UM and USM were ranked 89th and 111th respectively in 2004. The then vice-chancellor, who had to be removed ignorably, Datuk Professor Dr Kapten Hashim Yaakob, celebrated UM's achievement like he won the Nobel Prize. Since then, despite the declared of objective of improving the university's rankings by 5 places each year, UM tanked to 169th in 2005, 192 in 2006 and now out of the official 200 list.
Prof Dr Nik Mustapha Raja Abdullah, vice-chancellor of UKM has also pledged in January 2006 when he was newly appointed that it will become a Top-80 university by 2010. I wonder if he'll make the same public announcement today.
Possibly, the vice-chancellor of UM will now use the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) university ranking table as the de facto rankings table, since she proudly declared in March this year that we are ranked 13th there.
"It is the first time they have come up with such rankings and the top 10 positions were taken up by Turkish universities. It is an honour that UM is in the 13th position while Universiti Sains Malaysia is at the 29th spot," she said.
Or for that matter, we might as well create a table where the world's top 500 universities are excluded, and possibly we might be ranked 1st. Or a table for the Malay archipelago ex-Singapore...
It is sad that our university administrators, our Ministry officials and the Government refuses to recognise the very simple and basic problems causing the decline in our local universities (as mentioned above). Even as the Minister of Higher Education, Dato' Mustapa Mohamed launched the much-hyped higher education action plan, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi himself was quoted as saying that "student intake in these universities would not be based on race but the enrolment must reflect the country's ethnic diversity." (faints)
I'm certain others will pick up this thread and keep the "conversation" going even as I don't write as much these days. I should be able to get my hands on the full report sometime tomorrow and hopefully I'll get to provide a more in-depth review of the current situation. And you can be certain that Parliamentary Opposition leader, Sdr Lim Kit Siang will do the same in Parliament.
At a cursory glance, the biggest gainers this round appears to be universities from the United Kingdom, University College of London at 9th (2006: 25th), Kings College, London at 24th (46th), University of Edinburgh 23rd (33rd) as well as the 2 universitys from Hong Kong at 18th (33) and 38th (50) respectively. The universities from China and Singapore declined, but are well within the Top 100. Well, more later.