Shafie Salleh should present a White Paper in Parliament on Nov. 22 on the
government’s master plan to develop Malaysia as an international centre
of academic excellence by ensuring that at least one Malaysian university is
recognized as among the world’s 50 best universities by 2008
by Lim Kit Siang
(Parliament House, Tuesday): Higher Education Minister, Dr. Shafie Sahlleh should present a White Paper in Parliament on Nov. 22 on the government’s masterplan to develop Malaysia into an international centre of academic excellence by ensuring that at least one Malaysian university is recognized as among the world’s 50 best universities by 2008.
Last week, The Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) released its new global ranking of the world’s best 200 universities.
Although two Malaysian universities were listed, as University of Malaya ranked No. 89 and the Universiti Sains Malaysia ranked No. 111, international attention was focused on the top ten and the world’s best 50 universities.
American institutions occupied seven of the top ten places, with two going to Britain and one to Switzerland. The universities ranked as the world’s top ten are:
1. Harvard (US)
2. University of California, Berkeley (US)
3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US)
4. California Institute of Technology (US)
5. Oxford University (UK)
6. Cambridge University (UK)
7. Stanford University (US)
8. Yale University (US)
9. Princeton University (US)
10. ETH Zurich (Switzerland)
In the international media, even more attention in the past week has been lavished on the top-ranking 50 universities, with Australia described as “the powerhouse of higher education in the Asia-Pacific region” with six of its universities in the Top 50 or eight in the Top 60. The Australian National University is ranked No. 16, Melbourne University No. 22, Monash University No. 33, University of New South Wales No. 36, University of Sydney No.n 40 and Queensland University No. 49. Melbourne’s RMIT is No. 55 and Adelaide University No. 56.
In Asia, Japan’s Tokyo University was evaluated as the best university, ranking 12th, and China’s Beijing University and National University of Singapore formed the leading group, ranking 17th and 18th respectively. Among other Asian universities that were placed within the top 50 were Kyoto University (29thst), Hong Kong University (39th), Indian Institute of Technology (41st), Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (42nd), and Singapore Nanyang Technological University (50th). Tokyo Technological University Japan ranked 51st, Tsinghua University China 62nd andOsaka University Japan 69th.
The Times Higher Education Supplement latest global ranking of top universities could be faulted or criticized as biased towards the English-speaking world and to institutions that actively recruit students and staff abroad, since two of its five criteria measure these recruitment levels.
However, these criticisms cannot be used to justify Malaysia’s low international ranking, as in the world league of the best 500 universities prepared by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, Malaysia had been completely excluded from the list of world’s top 500 universities for two consecutive years, including the 2004 list released in September.
In its 2004 ranking of world’s top 500 universities, the Shanghai Jiao Tong University listed 66 universities from Asia-Pacific, including two from Singapore, four from Hong Kong, three from Taiwan, eight from China, eight from South Korea, three from India, 36 from Japan but not a single one from Malaysia.
When Parliament reconvenes on November 22 after the Hari Raya holidays, Malaysia’s omission from the The Times Higher Education Supplement ranking of the world’s top 50 universities and total absence from the Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s World’s Top 500 Universities annual ranking should be the focus of serious parliamentary debate and concern.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman