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Malaysian government should promptly and forthwith recognize all the degrees of Chinese universities which are internationally-recognized as among the world's top universities, and not just the Chinese Language Studies of four Chinese universities before we can righteously ask China for more recognition of Malaysian universities by Chinese government

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Media Conference (2)        
by Lim Kit Siang  
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(Ipoh, Friday): The request by the Higher Education Minister, Datuk Mustapha Mohamed, currently on a seven-day visit to China to promote Malaysia as an educational hub and to strengthen ties with some of the top Chinese universities, makes for strange reading.

Mustapha wants the Chinese government to recognize more Malaysian universities and colleges.

At present, China only recognizes 50 institutions in the public and private sector in Malaysia when their total numbers more than 500.

Mustapha wants more of our educational institutions to be recognized by the Chinese government for obvious reasons. Students from China form the second largest number of foreign students in the country after Indonesia and the Higher Education Ministry is marketing Malaysia aggressively to lure more Chinese students to Malaysia.

There is nothing wrong with such objective or marketing but Mustapha's request is nonetheless very strange and extraordinary.

Firstly, it has come as news as well as shocker too to Malaysians that the Chinese government has recognized 7 IPTAs (public institutions of higher learning) and 43 IPTSs (private institutions) for two reasons:

The Chinese government recognizing more Malaysian universities and colleges than the Chinese universities and colleges recognized by the Malaysian government, although many Chinese universities are internationally recognized for their academic merit and excellence while Malaysian universities have disappeared from the international radar of academic excellence as well as the vast difference in numbers of educational institutions between the two countries.

When China recognizes 43 IPTSs and only 7 IPTAs, it is a clear and indisputable sign that the IPTAs, despite their head-starts and public funding, have been overtaken by IPTSs in terms of international recognition of academic excellence and repute.

In the recently-released World's 2007 Times Higher Education Supplement (THES)-Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World Top 200 University Rankings, six Chinese universities made into the Top 200 list while Malaysian universities had been suffering free fall in international rankings in recent years, with not a single one making into the prestigious 200 Top ranking.

The six Chinese universities are:

  36. Peking University
  40. Tsinghua University
  85. Fudan University
125. Nanjing University
155. University of Science and Technology of China
163. Shanghai Jiao Tong University

The THES-QS survey also ranked the Top 100 Universities for five subject areas - Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities; Life Sciences and Biomedicine; and Engineering and Information Technology.

China has two universities, Peking University and Tsinghua University, which are ranked as among the Top 100 Universities in all the five categories. Malaysia is not only excluded from the overall list of the World Top 200 Universities, but completely excluded in all the five categories for Top 100 Universities when Chulalongkorn University of Thailand made into the Top 100 Universities for Engineering and IT.

Yet Malaysia refuses to accord recognition to the degrees of Peking University and Tsinghua University, ready only to recognize its degrees for Chinese language studies. Isn't this the height of the ludicrous?

In fact, China has six universities in the Top 100 Life Sciences & Biomedicine (Peking 18, Tsinghua 51, Fudan 52, Nanjing 78, Science and Technology of China 84 and Shanghai Jiao Tong 92); four in the Top 100 Engineering & IT (Tsinghua 16, Peking 36, Science and Technology of China 49 55); and five in the Top 100 Natural Sciences Peking 15, Tsinghua 34, Science and Technology of China 40, Nanjing 76 and Fudan 80).

Why has the Malaysian government not recognized these internationally-acclaimed Chinese universities for their world-class studies and degrees, when Malaysia does not have any equivalent whatsoever?

Isn't it most strange that a country which has dropped out of world-class university rankings is asking for more recognition for its universities from another country with universities of international repute but which it has refused to recognize?

The Malaysian government should promptly and forthwith recognize all the degrees of Chinese universities which are internationally-recognized as among the world's top universities, and not just the Chinese Language Studies of four Chinese universities before we can righteously ask China for more recognition of Malaysian universities by Chinese government.

The Malaysian government can impose a condition that such recognition is subject to fluency in English language or Bahasa Malaysia, but it is the height of the ridiculous for the Malaysian government to continue to refuse to accord recognition to the internationally-recognized degrees of Chinese universities which is a joke in the era of globalization but also self-defeating in losing out in the long run to lure Chinese students to come to Malaysia to further their tertiary studies.
 

(16/11/2007)  


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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