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Higher Education crisis very critical when public universities have become diploma mills with graduates having no pride in   their degrees and hiding their qualifications  to secure low-paying jobs

Media Statement (3)
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Parliament, Wednesday): The higher education crisis in Malaysia has become very critical when public universities have become diploma mills with graduates having no pride in their degrees and hiding their qualifications to secure low-paying jobs.

The media recently reported the phenomenon of many graduates hiding their diplomas and degrees to secure low-paying jobs in the public sector.  A graduate from the Universiti Utara Malaysia, for instance, was short-listed among 631 applicants for  interview for firemen at the Johore Fire Department headquarters after he applied using his SPM certificate as many graduates are finding it hard to get a job.


During the past weekend, speaker after speaker at university convocations such as University of Malaya Chancellor Sultan Azlan Shah, Universiti Malaya Pro-Chancellor Raja Dr Nazrin Sultan Azlan Shah and Universiti Sains Malaysia Pro-Chancellor Tan Sri Razali Ismail have belaboured the same theme – the importance of maintaining academic excellence in our universities to produce graduates of intellectual material.


Sultan Azlan is the first personality  from public universities to express his concern at “the creation of a wide gap between the education and teaching qualities at the public and private institutions of higher learning” resulting in “an overly disparate achievement between graduates from the public and private institutions”.


Pointing out that the departure of academics who had become great assets with their  vast knowledge and experience simply because they have reached the retirement age of 56 is “a loss to public universities” who  are given “a red carpet welcome” by the private institutions of higher learning, Sultan Azlan has rightly called for a new  extended scheme of service for academics after 56.


What is shocking  however is that public universities themselves do not treasure   towering academics with vast knowledge and experience, recognized not only nationally  but internationally, like Professor P. Ramasamy of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, the latest victim of discrimination of university bureaucracies.


It is most unfortunate that the creation of a Higher Education Ministry and the appointment of a Higher Education Minister has not ushered  in the  reform of the higher education system where quality,  intellectual creativity and academic excellence are  given the highest premium.

In Singapore, the National University of Singapore is aiming to be among the world’s Top 10 Best Universities, while the University of Malaya has the lowly aim to be ranked No. 50 among the World’s Best Universities by 2020.


When will Malaysian public  universities be prepared to aim high  for world recognition for academic excellence, in response to the Prime Minister’s call for “towering Malaysians” and the Deputy Prime Minister’s call for “Glocal Malaysians”?

Malaysia needs a new Minister for Higher Education with the vision and leadership to lead Malaysia’s universities, both public and private, to academic excellence and greatness – which hopefully, will be one of the accomplishments of the long-awaited Cabinet reshuffle by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi



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

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