University of Malaya guilty of global educational scandal of first magnitude when it is completely indifferent to its omission in the 2,100 slots for 100 Best Global Universities for 21 subjects but totally paranoid about penalizing Fahmi and UM8 for student awakening and activism
The country’s premier university, University of Malaya, is guilty of global educational scandal of the first magnitude when it is completely indifferent to its omission in the 2,100 slots for 100 Best Global Universities for 21 subjects but totally paranoid about penalizing student leader Fahmi Zainol and the UM8 for student awakening and activism.
So far, the only person in authority who had deigned to pay notice to the new world university ranking series, the Best Global Universities Ranking 2015 released by the US News and World Report, is the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak himself – as even the Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also Education Minister, has kept silent on the new global university rankings in the past 10 days as he seems to be leading a national campaign to “dumb down” Malaysians on what they should expect of academic excellence and standards in Malaysian universities.
But the Prime Minister was badly advised, as he only congratulated the Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) for being placed in the 54th rank in the 100 Best Global Universities for agricultural science, but failed to congratulate the University Sains Malaysia (USM) for being ranked No. 87 in the 100 Best Global Universities for engineering.
Malaysians must be very concerned that in the 2,100 slots for 100 Best Global Universities for 21 subjects, Malaysia’s 21 public universities which have a total of over 200 schools for different disciplines, could only manage to be placed in the 100 Best Global University for two subjects – agricultural science for UPM and engineering for USM.
In failing to get ranked in any one of 100 Best Global Universities for 21 subjects, UM’s lowly listing of No. 423 in the 500 Best Global Universities Rankings 2015 is further diminished – as reflected by the Prime Minister’s congratulations to UPM for being ranked No 58 for the 100 Best Global Universities for agricultural science but not to the UM for the lowly 423rd position for overall university ranking among the 500 Best Global Universities.
Malaysians would have expected the University of Malaya, as the premier university of the country which have 12 faculties, two academies, five institutes and five centres, to be ranked among the 100 Best Global Universities in at least half a dozen subject areas.
This is because universities which were on par with UM in terms of academic excellence and standards half a century ago, like University of Hong Kong, National University of Singapore, University of Melbourne and University of Sydney are ranked in the 100 Best Global Universities in more than a dozen subject areas.
National University of Singapore is 100 Best Global Universities for 15 subjects, University of Hong Kong in 13 subjects, University of Melbourne for 16 subjects and University of Sydney in 13 subjects.
Singapore, with three universities, wins 20 of the 2,100 slot for the 100 Best Global Universities for 21 subjects, i.e. National University of Singapore (15), Nanyang Technological University (4) and Singapore Management University (1).
Even Mahidol University of Thailand, which is below University of Malaya, being ranked No. 453 in the 500 Best Global Universities Rankings 2015, is rated as the 100 Best Global Universities for two subject areas – immunology and microbiology.
Muhyiddin should stop trying to “dumb down” Malaysian expectations of international academic standards and excellence for Malaysian universities and he should table a White Paper or make a Ministerial statement in Parliament about Malaysia’s poor performance in the Best Global Universities Rankings 2015.
Malaysian taxpayers demand the restoration of high international academic standards and excellence for Malaysian universities, in subjects which are important for Malaysia’s competitiveness in the age of science and technology, like mathematics, biology/biochemistry, chemistry, clinical medicine, computer science, economics/business, engineering, materials science, etc.
Malaysians do not expect Malaysian universities to excel in rarefied fields like space science, but strangely, one of the 21 fields which is devoid of any Asian university in the 100 Best Global Universities is psychiatry/psychology.
May be this is an area which Malaysia should try to excel as I fully agree with the Minister for Tourism and Culture, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz that more and more Malaysians have gone out of hand, the latest being those who call for action against manufactuters of the “deity” mineral water bottle.
The manufacturers were wrong for being insensitive but they were acting out of good intentions for the nation to promote tourism. Point out the error by all means, but is it necessary to inflame and incite hatred by demanding for their heads?
There is both a need for a return to sanity to put a halt to wild outbursts of extremism and intolerance as well as a return to rationality for all leaders of the country to focus on real issues and give priority to matters which affect the competitiveness and greatness of the country, such as the restoration of international academic excellence and standards for our universities, instead of wasting everyone’s time and energy on non-issues.