Forward    Feedback    


Double shame for University of Malaya, struggling to keep within the THES 200  global universities excellence league and stripped of its position as the nation’s premier university after centennial celebrations last year

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  


(Paliament, Friday) :  It’s a double shame for the nation’s erstwhile premier university, University of Malaya.


Firstly, its  struggle  to keep within the world’s 200 best universities in The Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) World University Rankings 2006, falling another 23 places to 192nd position from 169th ranking last year and 103 places from 89th Ranking in 2004.


The THES universities ranking is the only one  where University of Malay is listed, as there is not a single university from Malaysia   in Newsweek’s 100 Best Universities, Shanghai Jian Tong Universities’ 500 Top Universities or Webometrics Rank (WR) of 3,000 Premier Universities. 


If University of Malaya cannot cling to a placing in the THES Ranking in future years, it would have fallen into the “black hole” of international university competitive stakes.


Secondly, it has lost out to University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), which has scored a sudden breakthrough into the big league of the THES world’s 200 best universities, being ranked 185, a remarkable 104-place improvement from its unannounced ranking of 289 last year.


Kudos to UKM but shame to UM, as it marks the stripping of its  position as the nation’s premier university after its centennial celebrations last year – marking the culmination of a painful and agonisng 30-year “decline, fall and fall” from internationally-recognised excellence to mediocrity, something obvious to all except the successive Prime Ministers, Education and Higher Education Ministers and government leaders from the 80s to the present.


What is particularly pathetic was the University of Malaya’s centennial celebrations in June  last year, when Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak  threw the challenge to University of Malaya to raise its then 89th position among the world’s top 100 universities in THES ranking to 50 by the year 2020.


Clearly, Najib and government leaders did not realize or know that the rot in academic excellence and quality of the nation’s premier university  had become so deep and septic that it was to plunge 103 places in the THES Ranking in two years, leaving it in the perilous position of whether able to  cling on to a placing in  the list or to disappear into competitive oblivion.

After he became Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi called for a  “education revolution” to achieve world-class universities in Malaysia.

After nearly three years, the Prime Minister’s call for an “education revolution” to enable higher education in Malaysia to achieve world class status and establish the country as a regional centre of excellence in education is joining the lengthening queue of “cakap ta serupa bikin” of the present administration as there are no signs of any political will to carry out such an “education revolution”  to liberate our universities from the culture of mediocrity and  free lecturers and students from the fetters strangling academic freedom and student idealism.

Malaysians are not asking our public universities to scale new heights never achieved before – but to restore the  academic eminence, standards, excellence and quality which University of Malaya had enjoyed in the sixties and even the seventies.

If Australia and Netherlands can have seven universities each among the top 100 Universities, Switzerland and France five each, Hong Kong, Japan, Canada and Germany each have three, India, China, Singapore, New Zealand and Belgium each have two, while Denmark, South Korea, Mexico, Ireland, Austria and Russia one each  – why can’t Malaysia have at least two universities among the Top 100?

If Abdullah’s call for an education  revolution is not to end up as another empty slogan, it is time that the Prime Minister confront and resolve  the continuing crisis of higher education standards by elevating meritocracy as the primary criteria for all public universities – from appointment and promotion of academicians to university student intake. 

There should be an  immediate end to the divisive and fraudulent system of meritocracy for student intake by introducing only one common university entrance examination, whether it be NSTP or matriculation.

Furthermore, Malaysian universities should give top priority to academic excellence which should not be compromised by non-academic  considerations.   It is most ridiculous for instance that University of Malaya, ranked 192, refuses to recognize the degrees of Beijing University, ranked No. 14 Tsing Hua University, ranked No. 28 in THES Ranking of the world’s 200 best universities.  


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

Your e-mail:

Your name: 

Your friend's e-mail: 

Your friend's name: