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by Lim Guan Eng
(Petaling Jaya, Saturday
): University degrees from China should be recognized by the Malaysian government when UMN can sign a host of MOUs with premier Chinese universities such as Beijing and Tsinghua. DAP welcomes the MOU signed between Tsinghua and UM and agrees that research collaboration in Science and Technology, which Tsinghua University as one of China 's most prestigious universities is famous for, would benefit UM.
UM Vice-Chancellor Datuk Rafiah Salim said that besides research cooperation and co-organising academic conferences, there will also be exchange of teaching staff and researchers, students and academic materials and information. She said that UM is also going to offer two three-month visiting professorships for Tsinghua scholars.
Prior to this, UM had signed MoUs with 5 other universities from China, namely Peking University, Fudan University, Xiamen University, Beijing Foreign Studies University and Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Isn't this unusual despite the recognition given by UM and the signing of MOUs endorsed by the Malaysian government, no Chinese university from the mainland has received official recognition of their degrees?
Even Beijing University the top university not only in China but also Asia has not had its degrees recognized? DAP urges the Malaysian government to recognize the degrees from the top 100 universities in the world a compiled by The Times Higher Education Supplement especially those from Asian countries such as China, India, South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan. The time has come for such recognition to be given when universities from countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan or Indonesia that Malaysia recognizes are not even in the top 200 universities much less the top 100 universities.
There are only 23 universities in the world outside Europe and USA that are in the top 100. However 10 of these universities are from Australia, New Zealand and Mexico . In other words only 13 universities are from the Asian countries of China (2), Japan (3), Singapore(2), Hong Kong(3), India (2) and South Korea(1). (see list attached).
Malaysia does not recognize the degrees of many of the 13 top Asian universities when Malaysia's UKM is at No. 185, UM at 192, USM at 277 and UPM at 292. The time has come to accord recognition especially the top university in Asia, Beijing University which is at No. 14 world-wide. DAP can not understand why Malaysia can not recognize degrees from Beijing University when its academic excellence and standards is unparalleled in Asia .
DAP is asking for recognition for technical courses such as medicine, engineering and dentistry. As for courses with a different legal system, then students may need to sit for a special local examination. Such refusal to acknowledge recognition will only arouse suspicions that the Higher Education Ministry is motivated by considerations other than academic excellence.
Similarly recognition should also be given to Tsing Hua University(No. 19), Chinese University of Hong Kong (No. 50), Hong Kong University Science & Technology(No. 58), Nanyang Technological University(No. 61), Seoul National University(No. 63), Indian Institute of Management(No.68), and Osaka University(No. 70). The time has come for Malaysians and Malaysian universities to learn from Asian leading universities regardless whether they are from Japan or China, South Korea or Hong Kong, Singapore or India .
Failure to do so out of a sense of false price or denial syndrome would only cripple efforts to develop a first class mentality. How does one explain recognizing degrees from Pakistan, Bangladesh or Indonesia which do not have a single university in the top 200 universities but not the top university in Asia – Beijing University?
To be the best Malaysian universities require a sense of humility and burning desire to learn from the best. Even though UM is the only Malaysian university out of the 4 Malaysian universities to slide backwards, such a state of affairs for Malaysian top university is a damning indictment of Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamad's efforts to improve standards and excellence.
The time has come for Malaysian universities to learn from the best, and as the best universities in Asia are from China, there is no reason to withhold recognition. Datuk Ong Tee Keat who had witnessed the signing of the MOU between Tsinghua University and UM should press for immediate recognition of universities from China. Ong should explain to the Chinese community the steps he has taken to attain official recognition, especially whether he has persuaded Mustapa to lend his support. MCA Ministers led by its President Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting should also raise the issue of recognition of world-renowned universities from China in Cabinet.
* Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General of DAP