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Malaysia falling completely out of 2007 THES-QS World Top 200 Universities on 50th Merdeka anniversary - a national shame and latest warning to national leaders to end their complacency and delusion that Malaysia is becoming more competitive globally when reverse is actually the case

Media Statement          
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Parliament, Friday): Malaysia has fallen completely out of the list of the world’s Top 200 Universities this year in the 2007 Times Higher Education Supplement (THES)-Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings.

This is a national shame, especially as occurring during the nation’s 50th Merdeka anniversary and it must serve as the latest warning to the national leaders to end their complacency and delusion that Malaysia is becoming more competitive globally when the reverse is actually the case.

Last year, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and Universiti Malaya (UM) were listed at the tail-end of the Top 200 in the THES-QS ranking, and I had repeatedly warned both in and out of Parliament that Malaysia risks being pushed out of the 200 Top Universities ranking unless there is the political will to check brain-drain and restore meritocracy and excellence to Malaysian academia.

It gives me no satisfaction but extreme sadness to see my dire prediction come true!

UKM was ranked 185th last year, up from 289th spot in 2005, but has now fallen to 309th place.

For UM, once the nation’s premier university, it is a sorry tale of continuous decline. It was ranked among the world’s top 100 universities in 2004 at 89th position, fell to 169th in 2005 and 192nd placing in 2006, and is now out of the Top 200 league, having fallen to 246th spot!

Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), which was ranked as the only “outstanding” five-star university in a recent government survey, has fallen to 307th spot from 277 last year. In 2005, USM was in the 326th spot.

It is pathetic that the reaction from the University of Malaya Vice Chancellor Datuk Rafiah Salim is just one of excuses as to why UM had been thrown out of the top 200 Top Universities league rather than a commitment to check the decline and restore the nation’s former premier university to its previous repute as one of the world’s top universities.

Rafiah attributes UM’s poor placing to the new methodology used to calculate rankings this year, pointing out that “Even the National University of Singapore (NUS) has dropped to the 33rd spot when it was within the top 10”.

Rafiah is right that NUS has dropped in this year’s ranking but wrong in saying that NUS was “within the top 10” last year.

NUS was ranked No. 19 last year and has dropped to No. 33 – a fall of 14 placing. In contrast, UM has dropped 54 places.

Even more pertinent, UM at 246th spot is now 213 place behind NUS (No. 33)! Why is this so when both universities had started off on almost the same footing half-a-century ago?

Despite the use of a new methodology in calculating the ranking this year, Singapore has been able to maintain two universities in the Top 200 list – NUS at No. 33 and Nanyang Technological University at 69th, while Malaysia’s two universities in the Top 200 list last year had been edged out completely. Why is this so?


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

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