Najib should also congratulate USM for being ranked No. 87 in the 100 Best Global Universities for Engineering and direct full inquiry why Malaysian universities could only get two out of 2,100 slots for the 21 subject areas for 100 Best Global Universities

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak should also congratulate the University Sains Malaysia (USM) for being ranked No. 87 in the 100 Best Global Universities Ranking 2015 for Engineering, as he seems to have overlooked USM’s listing when congratulating Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) for being placed in the 54th rank for agricultural science.

While congratulations to UPM and USM are in order, for being ranked in the 100 Best Global Universities in the field of agricultural science for UPM and in engineering for USM, the Prime Minister should be very worried and concerned about the overall failure and inability of Malaysian universities to compete with universities not only in Asia but also at the global level.

The Prime Minister cannot make a worse mistake or be more wrongly advised if he regards the Best Global Universities Ranking 2015 released by the US News and World Report on Oct. 27 as a cause for celebration, when it is in fact a terrible indictment of the lowly standards of public university education and excellence in the country.

Firstly, the country’s premier university, the University of Malaya is the only university listed in the 500 Best Global Universities Ranking 2015, and at a very lowly position of No. 423.

Secondly, the Best Global Universities Ranking 2015 also feature the top 100 global universities in 21 subject areas, namely agricultural sciences, biology/biochemistry, chemistry, clinical medicine, computer science, economics/business, engineering, environment/ecology, geosciences, immunology, materials science, mathematics, microbiology, molecular biology/genetics, neurosciences and behavior, pharmacology/toxicology, physics, plant/animal sciences, psychiatry/psychology, social science/public health and space science.

With 100 Top universities ranked for each of the 21 subject areas, this will mean there are 2,100 slots available for the cream of global universities. It is shocking that University of Malaya, the only Malaysian university listed in the 500 Best Global Universities Ranking 2015 has not been ranked as Top 100 University for anyone of the 21 subject areas. Thanks to UPM and USM, Malaysia won two of the 2,100 slots in the Top 100 Universities for 21 subject areas.

The four top Asian universities in the 500 Best Global University Rankings 2015, namely Universities of Tokyo (No. 24), Peking (No. 39), Hong Kong (42) and Singapore (No.55) are all ranked Top 100 Universities in more than a dozen subject areas.

University of Tokyo is Top 100 Universities for 18 subject areas, such as ranked No.5 in physics, No. 6 in chemistry, No. 7 in Plant and Animal Science, No. 10 in biology/biochemistry, No. 13 in microbiology, No. 17 in geosciences, No. 20 in materials science, No. 34 in engineering, No. 36 in computer science, No. 42 in mathematics, No. 60 in clinical medicine and No. 85 in environment/ecology.

Peking University is Top 100 University for 14 subject areas, Hong Kong University in 13 subject areas and National University of Singapore in 15 subject areas.

It must trouble Malaysians who care about higher education that each of these four universities could be ranked as the Top 100 universities in over a dozen subject areas while Malaysia could only get into two of the 2,100 slots for the 21 subject areas – UPM for agricultural science and USM for engineering; and with the premier university, University of Malaya, unable to get ranked as Top 100 in anyone of the 21 subject areas.

This is not cause for joy and celebration by the Prime Minister but who should direct a full inquiry into the sad state of higher education in Malaysia.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah