Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, 7th October 2009:
Tomorrow will reveal whether Malaysia has ended the two-year exclusion from the THES-QS World Top 200 Universities Ranking or the country’s universities have plunged into the “black hole” of international university competitiveness stakes?
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak went before the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in Paris yesterday to extend his 1Malaysia motto to 1World.
Four years ago, at the University of Malaya’s centennial celebrations in June 2005, as Deputy Prime Minister, Najib threw the challenge to University of Malaya to raise its 89th position among the world’s top 100 universities in Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) ranking in 2004 to 50 by the year 2020.
Instead of accepting Najib’s challenge with incremental improvement of its THES ranking, the premier university went into a free fall for two years followed by completely disappearing from the Top 200 Universities ranking in the past two years.
After being ranked in 2004 at 89th position in the THES-QS World Top Universities, University of Malaya fell to 169th in 2005 and 192nd placing in 2006, and in the past two years of 2007 and 2008 rankings, not only University of Malaya but Malaysia fell out of the 200 Top Universities altogether!
We can only hope that Najib’s 1Malaysia and 1World calls will not be as dismal as his call in 2005 to University of Malaya to be among the world’s top 50 universities.
Tomorrow, Malaysians will know whether Malaysian universities could redeem themselves and get back into the World Top 200 Universities ranking when the 2009 THES-QS World Top Universities ranking is released, or whether Malaysia has fallen into the “black hole” of international university competitiveness stakes, unable to prove their academic quality, excellence and worth in the international arena.
Last year was the second consecutive year where there was not only not a single Malaysian university in the 2008 THES-QS Top 200 Universities list, but also not a single university in the separate ranking of Top 100 Universities for five subject areas – Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities; Life Sciences and Biomedicine; and Technology.
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Universiti Malaya were in the 2006 Ranking, placed No. 185 and 192 respectively. UKM plunged to 309 in 2007 and improved to 250 2008 while UM fell to 246 in 2007 improving slightly to 230 2008 – but both remain outside the Top 200 Universities ranking.
The government named Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) as the Apex University but it has a dismal international rankings after being included once in the Top 200 Universities list – No. 111 in 2004, No. 326 in 2005, 277 in 2006, No. 307 in 2007 and No. 313 in 2008.
It is both sad and pathetic that our Apex University, the USM, at No. 313 ranking, is not only left far behind in South East Asia by Singapore (National University of Singapore No. 30 and Nanyang Technological University No. 77) but also by Thailand (Chulalongkorn University No. 166), Indonesia (University of Indonesia No. 287) and the Philippines (Ateneo de Manila University No. 254 and University of the Philippines No. 276).
Until 2007, Malaysian universities were all ranked well ahead of the Indonesian universities, but in the 2008 THES-QS World Top Universities ranking, Indonesian universities were catching up with Malaysian universities in leaps and bounds.
In 2007 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 the 2008 ranking, University of Indonesia had 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) had 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).
The performance of Malaysian universities in the 2008 THES-QS Top 100 lists for the five subject areas are even more dismal, with not a single university making into the five lists for two years consecutively although Malaysia secured four of these 500 prestigious slots in 2006 - University of Malaya was ranked 49 in Social Sciences and 95 in Natural Sciences, UKM was placed No. 62 in Natural Sciences, and University Sains Malaysia placed No. 96 for Life Sciences and Biomedicine.
For the 2008 THES-QS ranking, National University of Singapore (NUS) (No. 30) is ranked among the Top 100 Universities for all the five categories while Nanyang Technological University (NTU) (No. 77) is ranked among the Top 100 universities for three categories, viz: Technology (No. 26); Life Sciences & Biomedicine (No. 78) and Social Sciences (No.89).
NUS is ranked No. 11 for Technology; No. 17 for Life Sciences and Biomedicine, No. 31 for Natural Sciences; No. 18 for Social Sciences and No. 30 for Arts & Humanities.
NTU is ranked No. 25 for Engineering & IT; No. 99 for Natural Sciences and No. 88 for Social Sciences.
Even Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University is rated among the Top 100 Universities for two categories – Technology (No. 86) and Social Sciences (No. 72); Indonesia’s Bandung Institute of Technology rated as among the Top 100 universities for Technology (No. 90) and two universities in Philippines ranked among the Top 100 Universities for Arts and Humanities - Ateneo de Manila University (No. 79) and University of the Philippines (No. 82).
After being placed in four of the 500 slots in the five Top 100 Universities for the five subjects in 2006, Malaysian universities have been conspicuously missing from all the five listings of Top 100 Universities for the five categories for the past two years.
Tomorrow will reveal whether Malaysia ends the two-year exclusion from the THES-QS World 200 Top Universities Ranking or whether the country’s universities haave plunged into the “black hole” of international university competitiveness stakes.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor