37-Day Countdown to 13GE - For second consecutive year, not a single Malaysian university ranked in top 400 of Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2012-2013

This is another body-blow for the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak just before the long-awaited 13th General Elections as it highlights the failure of Najib’s national transformation agenda to restore national unity, achieve excellence and regain international competitiveness from its slew of initiatives like the “1Malaysia, People First, Performance Now” programme, the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) with seven National Key Result Areas (NKRAs) and a host of impossible-to-remember acronyms from the alphabet-soup reform measures.

In the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2012-2013, for the second consecutive year, not a single Malaysian university is included in its 400 Top World University rankings.

The THE World University Rankings 2012-2013 is a sad but salutary warning to Malaysians about the four-year failure of Najib’s transformation programmes, with Malaysia completely excluded from the Asia-Pacific phenomenon highlighted by the THE World University Rankings 2012-2013 on the “the rise of Asia-Pacific Universities”.

As Phil Baty, editor of THE World University Rankings commented:

“The balance of power is shifting. Leading universities from across the Asia-Pacific region have seen significant improvements in their positions in the 2012-2013 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, gaining ground on the traditional powerhouses of the US and the UK.

“In the 2012-2013 table, top institutions in China, Singapore, the Republic of Korea and Taiwan have risen up the rankings. Asia's Pacific neighbour, Australia, has also had a strong year, in contrast to the US and the UK: a majority of the Anglo-American representatives in the top 200, while still dominant in term of numbers, have lost ground.”

The “rise of Asia-Pacific Universities” in world higher education is highlighted by the following:

  • Significant improvements for Australia and New Zealand. Australia’s number one institution, the University of Melbourne, has shot up from 37th in the rankings last year to inside the top 30, at 28th. Australia gained an additional top 200 university, with the University of Adelaide entering the top 200 at 176th. Of Australia’s seven top 200 representatives, six improved their positions. Eighteen Australian universities are listed in the top 400 Universities.

  • China’s two top 200 institutions both rose, with Peking University moving from 49th to 46th and Tsinghua jumping 19 places from 71stto 52nd. Universities earmarked by the Chinese authorities for great things are improving: Fudan University and Shanghai Jiao Tong University have both moved closer to the top 200 while Nanjing has maintained its position in the 250-257 bracket.

  • Singapore’s two top 200 institutions saw spectacular success. The National University of Singapore moved from 40th to 29th and Nanyang Technological University rocketed up the table from 169th to 86th.

  • Every one of South Korea’s institutions rose up the tables, with the most spectacular improvement by Seoul National University, which rose from 124 to 59th. The country also gained a new representative in the top 200 – Yonsei University, entering at 183rd.

  • Taiwan's flagship institution and sole representative in the top 200, the National Taiwan University, moves from 154th to joint 134th, while Hong Kong's institutions have held steady or risen.

  • Thailand is represented in the top 400 universities with King Monghut’s University of Technology in the 351-400 bracket.

A total of 81 Asian-Pacific Universities made it into the THE 400 Top World University Ranking, but not a single one from Malaysia, and yet we have a Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who recently claimed that Malaysia has one of the best education systems in the world – better than United States, Britain and Germany.

If Malaysia is to have a chance to partake in the “Rise of Asia-Pacific Universities and to be recognised internationally not only as having universities in the top 400 but even in the top 100, then there must be an overhaul of the entire education system in the country, right from primary, secondary to university level.

This is only possible if there is a new beginning for national renewal and regeneration in a change of Federal government in Malaysia – first time in the nation’s 56-year history in the 13GE.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timur