Will Najib mention in his 2015 Budget speech on Friday the exclusion of Malaysian universities from the THE Top 400 University Ranking for fifth successive year

Will the Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak mention in his 2015 Budget speech on Friday the exclusion of Malaysian universities from the Times Higher Education (THE) Top 400 University Ranking 2014 for the fifth successive year?

Or has he forgotten and regretted his challenge to the University of Malaya nine years ago to be among the world’s Top 50 universities by year 2020, which is only five years away?

Three weeks ago, Najib twittered congratulations to the five Malaysian universities which were ranked higher in the Top 400 of the QS World University Ranking 2014, namely University of Malaya (UM) ranked 167 last year to 151; University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) from 269 to 259; University Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) from 355 to 294; Universiti Sains Malaysia from 355 to 309; Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) from 411-420 to 376.

But there has been a deafening silence from Najib as well as from the DPM-cum- Education Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in the past week over the exclusion of Malaysian universities in Top 400 in another global university ranking – THE University Ranking 2014-2015.

I congratulate Mahasiswa Keadilan Malaysia (MKM), Progressive University of Malaya, University of Malaya Association of New Youth (UMANY) & Gabungan Mahasiswa Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (GMUKM) who have in their joint statement deplored the non-participation of University of Malaya (UM) and National University of Malaysia (UKM) in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings which only strengthened the perception that Malaysian universities are inferior to foreign universities.

They urged both UM and UKM to see “the bigger picture” and to participate in the all the World University Rankings to ensure that our local universities are world-class.

The arguments which have been advanced so far to justify the boycott of UM and UKM in the THE Top 400 World University Rankings while continuing to participate in the QS World University Rankings are very weak and most untenable.

Would UM and UKM be excluded from the THE Top 400 altogether if they participate?

Four other Malaysian universities had participated in the THE World University Ranking 2014-5, but none made it into the Top 400 of the THE rankings.

It will be real shame to both UM and UKM if anyone of the four other Malaysian universities had succeeded in being ranked among the THE Top 400.

Although Najib challenged University of Malaya to be ranked among the Top 50 universities when he was Deputy Prime Minister in 2005, the former University of Malaya Vice Chancellor Tan Sri Professor Dr Ghauth Jasmon‎, had set a more realistic target when he was heading the university from 2008 to 2013 – to enter QS World University Ranking’s Top 100 by 2015.

Can UM achieve Ghauth’s target of entering Top 100 in QS World University Ranking next year?

This is an impossible mission, as UM’s best QS ranking is 151 this year.

UM’s placing in QS World University Rankings since 2010 are:

2010 207
2011 167
2012 156
2013 167
2014 151

Will Najib dare to address in his budget speech on Friday why University of Malaya will fail to achieve the much lower target set by Ghauth to be among the world’s Top 100 Universities (QS) by 2015, not to mention his own superlative target to be among the Top 50 universities in the world by 2020?

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah