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DAP calls on Prime Minister to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry into shocking decline of quality of Malaysian universities highlighted by University of Malaya falling from 89th to 169th placing while USM disappearing from the THES World Top 200 Universities Ranking 2005
Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
In the THES global ranking of the world’s best 200 universities 2004, the University of Malay ranked No. 89 (71 places behind University of Singapore) and the Universiti Sains Malaysia ranked No. 111.
These rankings were proudly advertised by these two universities to demonstrate their academic excellence and quality in a rather unashamed and unacademic fashion.
At the centennial celebrations of the University of Malaya in June, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak expressed the hope that the University of Malaya could be ranked among the world’s top 50 universities by 2020.
All these dreams are shattered by the release of the 2005 THES World University Rankings in United Kingdom yesterday – with University of Malaya falling a steep 80 places, plunging from 89th last year to 169th position, one of the greatest plunges for any single university. University Sains Malaysia plunged even more steeply, falling out of the 200 ranking altogether from last year’s ranking of No. 111.
The THES World University Rankings is the latest confirmation of the deep and prolonged crisis of higher education in Malaysia. The country and government must end the denial syndrome particularly of the Ministry of Higher Education that the higher education system in Malaysia is very sick indeed. A lot of hard analysis and soul-searching on the direction and future of higher education in Malaysia must now begin.
I call on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry comprising reputable academicians and respectable Malaysians into the shocking decline of quality of Malaysian universities highlighted by University of Malaya falling 80 places from 89th to 169th placing while USM disappearing from the THES World Top 200 Universities Ranking 2005.
A quick look at the THES 2005 Ranking of World’s Top 200 Universities shows that Malaysia, whose University of Malaya was regarded as one of the premier universities in the world in the sixties, has not only fallen far behind other countries in terms of university excellence and quality, but we are in danger of falling further behind.
The THES 2005 World Top 200 Universities has proven me right when I had tried to waken up Parliament, government and the nation that we are in danger of being overtaken by our neighbour in the indicators of international competitiveness. In the seventies and eighties, Malaysia was ahead of Thailand in almost all significant indicators of international competitiveness, but in the past decade, we are losing to our Thailand in more and more aspects of competitiveness.
Thailand has become the “Detroit of the East” as the hub of automotive industry in the region while Malaysia, which started off ahead of Thailand in the automotive industry in the seventies and early eighties, is struggling with her Proton national car industry after more than two decades of national subsidy with ordinary Malaysians having to pay for more expensive and lower-quality cars.
In the 21 years from its establishment in 1983 till 2004, Proton had exported 245,222 vehicles – which is not even equal to the car export for Thailand for one year.
This year we
lost out for the first time to Thailand in international competitiveness
when Malaysia fell 12 places from 16th to 28th ranking
Thailand is fast catching up with Malaysia in the annual Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, with Malaysia being stuck in No. 39 in the TI CPI 2005 while Thailand is fast improving its ranking from No. 64 last year to No. 59 this year. If Thailand improves five placings per year in the annual TI CPI, Thailand would have caught up and even overtaking Malaysia in the TI CPI at the end of the Ninth Malaysia Plan in 2010.
And now, for the first time, Malaysia has lost out to Thailand in having the better university. Thailand’s premier university Chulalongkorn University is ranked No. 121 in the THES World Top 200 universities, ahead of University of Malaya’s No. 169 – when last year, Chulalongkorn did not even make it into the Top 200 list.
The second point about the THES Top 200 Universities 2005 is that international competition for academic excellence by prestigious universities is very keen and ferocious, which explains why Singapore National University, which was ranked No. 18 fell four places to No. 22, with three Asian universities in the top 20 being reduced to two.
Beijing University is now rated the best Asian university ranked at No. 15 (compared to No. 17 last year), ahead of Tokyo University, ranked No. 16 (falling fall places from No. 12 last year).
Thirdly, Malaysia is sadly trailing behind many other Asian countries, as shown by the better ranking of the following Asian Universities as compared to University of Malaya:
Where are Malaysians to hide their face with 23 other Asian universities ranked as better than our premier university, University of Malaya?
Fourthly, Australia continues to be a power house for tertiary education not only in the region but in the world, raising the question why Australia can do what Malaysia cannot.
The Australian Universities in the Top 200 are:
It is a national shame that there are 17 Australian Universities which are internationally regarded as better than the premier Malaysian university, not to mention the other 16 public universities in Malaysia. It would appear that any university in Australia is better than the best in Malaysia. I do not believe Malaysian human capital and talents are any less inferior to Australians. If we lose out, it is in our system of governance and educational institutions.
The shocking THES World University Ranking 2005 for Malaysian universities and Malaysians should be the top agenda for parliamentary debate when MPs reconvene on November 14, 2005 for the resumed debate on the 2006 Budget.
The question to be asked is whether the country can afford to have a Higher Education Minister who preside over the disastrous plunge in the international ratings of Malaysian universities.
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP
Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman