Blog Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Monday, 3rd November 2008: 

Three Higher Education Ministers in 4 years while universities continue plunge in international rankings and losing out to Indonesia after left behind by Singapore/Thailand

Three Higher Education Ministers in four years while Malaysian universities continue the plunge in international university rankings – this is the second consecutive year Malaysia is excluded from the Times Higher Education Supplement’s (THES-QS) World’s Top 200 Universities.

Are these two matters inter-related?

This is the question I posed to the third Higher Education Minister in four years, Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin in Parliament this morning when he replied during the winding-up of the 2009 Budget debate, but as expected, he could not throw any light on the conundrum.

It is a sad reflection of the “paradigm shift” in university quality and excellence in Malaysia that while the first two Higher Education Ministers (Datuk Dr. Shafie Salleh and Datuk Dr. Mustapha Mohamed) talked about how to defend Malaysian university rankings in the Top 200 World Universities, Khaled spoke with pride this morning at the inclusion of Malaysian universities in the Top 500 world universities!

I warned this morning that Malaysia is seriously losing out in competitiveness, with our univerisites not only left behind by Singapore [National University of Singapore (NUS) ranked 30th and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore ranked No. 77] and Thailand (Chulalongkorn University ranked No. 166), we are beginning to straggle behind Indonesian universities!

Until last year, Malaysian universities were all ranked well ahead of the Indonesian universities, but in the 2008 THES-QS World Top Universities ranking, Indonesian universities are catching up with Malaysian universities in leaps and bounds.

Last year for instance, the three top Indonesian universities were all ranked behind the Malaysian universities – University of Indonesia (UI) No. 395, Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) No. 369 and Gajah Mada University (UGM) No. 360, as compared to the three top Malaysian universities University of Malaya (UM) No. 246, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) No. 307 and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) No. 309.

In this year’s ranking, University of Indonesia has improved by 108 placings to be ranked as No. 287, Bandung Institute of Technology No. 315 and Gajah Mada University No. 316.

This means that in the 2008 THES-QS Ranking, University of Indonesia (No. 287) has narrowed the gap with University of Malaya (No. 230) and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (No. 250), while ahead of Malaysia’s apex university, Universiti Sains Malaysia (No. 313), University Putra Malaysia (No. 320) and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (No. 356).

* Lim Kit Siang,  DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor