What good are world university rankings? Ridhuan Tee asks

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KUALA LUMPUR, March 2 — Controversial lecturer Dr Ridhuan Tee Abdullah downplayed the importance of world university rankings today, chiding local learning institutions for trying playing catch-up with a grading that he claimed was “rigged” by the Western world.

The Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA) lecturer expressed his worry that Malaysian graduates of the world’s best universities have instead ended up in the “anti-establishment” camp, in addition to trying to ape “white folks” or Chinese nationals.

“Is it so important to get the world’s best ranking? What is the guarantee that graduates of world’s best university can become the best in their careers, and useful towards religion, race and nation?” Tee asked in his column published by Malay news portal Sinar Harian Online.

“What’s the use if they graduate from the world’s best university, if their hearts are filthy? Disloyal to the country, betraying and leaking the country’s secret to others,” asked Tee.

Tee also warned local universities from being trapped in the Western world’s “education market politics”, where academics have to pay a lot of money to be published in peer-reviewed literature databases such as Scopus and the Institute for Scientific Information.

“We are still in that colonised mind and attitude. The West are adept at playing magic tricks.

“They came up with rankings, then change the criteria from time to time. We are waddling trying to chase them,” Tee said.

Last month, Education Minister II Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh was quoted as saying by national news agency Bernama that Malaysia’s institutions of higher education are on par with those in the United States, Germany and Australia as there are 135,000 foreigners making 10 per cent of all students in local universities and colleges.

The minister also cited Universiti Malaya’s (UM) rise in the 2014 QS World University Rankings, from 167 to 151, as further evidence.

However, Malaysian universities have failed to show on the radar of other more prominent education listings in recent years, including the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2014.

The Academic Ranking of World Universities produced by Shanghai Jiao Tung University also placed UM in the bottom 100 of 400 universities worldwide last year, while UM barely scraped through the top 500 universities in the US News’ Best Global Universities at 423rd place.

In the Ranking Web of Universities compiled by Webometrics produced by a Spanish research group, Universiti Putra Malaysia ranked 420th, followed by Universiti Sains Malaysia at 480th spot, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia at 552nd and UM bottomed out among local universities with its placing at 646th.

Malaysia’s education system has come under much scrutiny in recent years among politicians and employers questioning the standards of its students and graduates, despite the government’s push to turn the country into an education hub.

See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/what-good-are-world-university-rankings-ridhuan-tee-asks

World wise before world class

AuDR AZLY RAHMAN, born in Singapore and grew up in Johor Baru, holds a Columbia University (New York City) doctorate in International Education Development and Masters degrees in four areas: Education, International Affairs, Peace Studies and Communication.

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Each Malaysian university need not aspire to become “world class”, but to start becoming ‘world wise’ instead. These are my thoughts on the issue of the culture of our universities.

Tradition of intellectualism, freedom of inquiry, adaptability, quality of teaching, production of intellectual and ground-breaking artifacts, the undying pursuit of truth for the betterment of society, the championing of diverse philosophical thinking along with a diverse and global student population rigorously selected and admitted…

These are amongst the elements that make a university not only world class, but ‘world wise’.

Malaysia’s road to world class-ism is a long and winding one due to the following hurdles we have created:
A political governance that imposes a style of anti-intellectualism on campuses;

A culture of fear of thinking, retarding critical sensibility permeating;

A lack of encouragement of radical thinking amongst the faculty;

A culture of high-stakes testing and post-high school teaching;

A society as a force fast moving towards mono-cultural mono-religious thinking;

A nation helpless in determining the freedom of inquiry that ought to be championed by universities;

A government that insists on the appointment of politically-connected and aspiring educational leaders to lead universities;

A mission and vision of the university that do not have a statement which guarantees academic freedom and the protection of free speech as the key foundations of its existence;

A grand curriculum that is weak in the philosophical, sociological, humanistic, and cultural traditions of the East and the West;

A population of students and faculty weak in the mastery of the English Language;

The entire misconception of the aim and purpose of education in an increasingly globalising and predatory world;

The lack of skills of faculty as Socratic thinkers and the mastery of the art and science of teaching and inspiring;

The model of Industrial Age of education still in use in a Post-Industrial Cybernetic world…
And these are amongst the few.

Where do we go from here to make things better – even of it takes a hundred years?

Seems that the farther away society is from nature, the closer it is to materialism; the more people love money more than humility, the deeper truth may be buried.

So, we ought to at least read ‘The Epic of Gilgamesh’ and learn from the tension between the illusions of civilisation and civility.

Fights over money and materialism

This is what Malaysia is now facing. The fights in Malaysian politics – to the point of murder, mayhem and madness – are over money and materialism.

Dr Martin Luther King Jr often talked about three things that destroy humanity: racism, militarism, and materialism.

And Malcolm X had his famous saying: “Show me a capitalist and I will show you a bloodsucker.”

What’s nauseating is the growing critical mass of support for this dying regime over-killing the little hope we have for the flowering of critical and moral sensibility.

Why? Because the process of educating for hegemonic and totalitarian ends have been very successful with better ideological state apparatuses built to sustain the political-dynastic progress.

And in all these, we have created a one-dimensional two-sided society arguing over issues versus non-issues, parroting theories and clichés’.

We are in a theatre of the absurd and will be staying in it for a long, long time (Time to read Moliere again and relive my college freshman years in those Literature classes).

In the life of one’s mind, the greatest challenge is to think as freely as one can allow oneself to live in a culture that is increasingly shackling, disabling, controlling, and oppressing.

From this, too, the question of how can we design a suitable education system comes into being… of the perfect process of schooling – one that will respect the dignity and freedom of the human mind. But how? It must begin with the universities.

What is so complex about the definition of a university for it to be misunderstood? A university is a secularly-sacred institution of scholarly pursuit of ideas that must not be used to create further divisions in society – be they divisions and sub-divisions based on race, colour, creed and national origin.

It is a place wherein the universality of ideas must reign, guided by philosophies that will bring humanity closer to a more meaningful democracy.

A university is not merely a diploma mill and a production-house of academic Taylorism.

It is not an institution to put a ‘quality control’ stamp on the minds of students so that they may become merely good workers in a Total Quality Management-inspired company.

It is not a game of production and reproduction and schooling the mind into total submission.

A university is not a place wherein the discoveries of new bodies of knowledge must point to the dictates of party politics and that ‘truth’ must be acquired through ‘methods’ designed by and derived from the structural-functionalism of politics.

It must not be a place to canonise the ideology of this or that dubious leader whose interest is in self-emulation and deluding oneself to grandeur. A university has more respect than that.

The university is above politics. It must educate politicians. The professor must guide politicians – a professor who is a philosopher-ruler and one who is incorruptible and preserves the culture of free inquiry and human liberation is the best professor a nation can ever have.

Professing knowledge and helping others grow intellectually is not the same as packaging propaganda and helping others become retarded by it.

And so, we must engineer a revolution to make our institutions wiser and to move society to become ‘world wise’ instead of prematurely appraising our institutions as “world class”.

See more at:http://www.malaysiakini.com/columns/290515

MP picks apart Idris Jusoh’s ‘world class’ varsity claim

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GEORGE TOWN: The majority of international students in Malaysia do not come from advanced countries but instead from parts of the developing world where universities are far inferior, Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari has pointed out in rubbishing a claim by Minister of Education II Idris Jusoh.
At the same time, there are 28,869 Malaysian students in advanced countries including Australia, Britain and Germany and hardly any students from these countries in Malaysia.
Zairil, who is DAP Assistant National Publicity Secretary and the son of a former Umno Education Minister Khir Johari, was expressing shock with Idris Jusoh bragging in the media that Malaysia’s higher education was world-class and on par with developed nations such as the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia.
Idris Jusoh’s outrageous claim, he noted, was based on his assertion that there are reportedly 135,000 foreign students in Malaysia, and who make up 10 per cent of total students currently enrolled in higher education institutions throughout the country.
“As pointed out by Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming on Sunday, the 2014 QS World University Rankings reveals that Malaysian universities cannot compare to those from the UK, Germany and Australia,” he reminded. “Malaysia is not represented in the top 100, with Universiti Malaya (UM) being the only Malaysian university that made it into the top 200 at 151st place.”

Who exactly are the foreign students in Malaysian universities?
“It’s perhaps interesting to delve into the origins of these foreign students that make up this number.”
He cites the Ministry of Education’s latest statistics based on the Perangkaan Pendidikan Negara: Sektor Pengajian Tinggi 2013 which reveals that the top countries of origin for foreign students in Malaysian universities are as follows:
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“It’s quite obvious from the list above that the majority of international students in Malaysia come from countries where the universities are far inferior,” said Zairil. “We must focus on the one-way student migration from Malaysia to the UK, Germany and Australia, among other countries.”
“We cannot even compare with Singapore.”
In terms of ranking, the National University of Singapore, which shares its genesis with UM, has left its “sister” far behind, placing 22nd in the world and first in Asia, he stressed. “Singapore had 21 per cent foreign students in 2012.”
“The Singapore Government has now imposed a cap in order to reduce the international student intake to 15 per cent to give more places to locals.”
The demand for places at Singaporean universities was extremely competitive, not least among Malaysian students who number 3,016 in the island republic, he added. “In contrast, there are only 606 Singaporean students in Malaysian universities, despite the fact that we have many more colleges and universities.”
“Instead of making empty boasts, Idris Jusoh should instead reflect upon why Malaysian students are competing for places in foreign universities instead of choosing to study locally.”

See more at: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2015/02/23/mp-picks-apart-idris-jusohs-world-class-varsity-claim/

若有世界级高等教育 为何大学毕业生失业?

议员观点:沈志强是行动党大山脚国会议员

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针对第二教育部长依德里斯祖索声称我国高等教育与英国,德国及澳洲等先进国并驾齐驱,我称此症状为政府相信了自己的谎言。

我的同志们再里尔(Zairil Khir Johari) 和王建民已纷纷出示资料显示该部长言论只能是“自己讲自己爽”罢了。

我还要指出依德里斯祖这一清秋大梦的一个显而易见问题。

如果我国高教属世界级别,为什么国内大学毕业生失业率偏高?

40%大学生失业

部长必须解释,如果本地大学均属世界级别,为什么40%的本地大学毕业生失业?

根据中央政府自己的说法,大约30-40% 大学毕业生要不是正在失业,就是在跟自己文凭资格不搭配的行业里就业。

一份2013年的世界银行报告发现,年轻大马人中的失业率偏高,文凭执有者更是首当其冲。该报告也指出,5个25岁以下执有大学文凭的大马人当中就有一人失业。

(来源:马来西亚经济检测,2013年12月,55-56页; Malaysia Economic Monitor, December 2013, pp 55-56).

2014年,世界银行再次提醒我国偏高的失业率,并引用高等教育部门2013年数据指出,25.6%的22万零527名大学生在2012年毕业6个月之后仍然没有被雇佣。

(来源:马来西亚经济检测,2014年12月,34页; Malaysia Economic Monitor, December 2014, p. 34)

统计局于2014年6月推出最新的劳力数据调查报告指出,31%的失业人士受过高等教育,一共13万名。

(来源:劳力数据调查报告,2013年,143页; Labour Force Survey Report, 2013, p. 143)

失业者大多为本地大学毕业生,雇主称缺乏技能失业的大学生,大多毕业于本地高等学府。

(来源:全国教育统计:高等教育 2013,179页; National Education Statistics: Higher Education Sector 2013, p. 179)

62%雇主难请员工

上述2014年世界银行报告也摘录 Grant Thornton(2013)的一项调查指出,虽然就业机会不少,62%的大马雇主在聘请拥有适当技能的员工时遇到困难。该报道的总结是 “这样的情况显示大学提供的技能与雇主们的要求有所差异”。

这样的总结,在一份由专才机构(Talent Corp),特许管理会计师公会(Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)),以及多媒体发展机构(Multimedia Development Corporation (MDec))联合撰写的报告中获得支持,并指出“学术界与雇主们存在不匹配”。

(来源:准备做生意:越过聘请缺口。马来西亚观点,5页; Ready for business: Bridging the Employability Gap. The Malaysian perspective, p. 5)

开始相信自己谎言

政府也承认大学毕业生可聘请度的问题。

中央政府对这问题也甚关注。多年以来,偏高的大学毕业生失业率促使政府举办了不少再培训计划,比如大学毕业生可聘请度管理计划(Graduate Employability Management Scheme (GEMS)),以及大学毕业生可聘请度特别工作组(Graduate Employability Taskforce)。这些计划每年都花费了几十亿令吉。

如果大马孩子都接收着世界水准的教育,为何毕业了却无人问津?如果我国大学与先进国大学并驾齐驱,为何政府仍需每年花费几十亿令吉提高毕业生们的可聘请度呢?

关于我国大学水准,依德里斯祖索怎么可以做出如此不诚实的声称?如果部长真的笃信他的言论,我们只能说政府已经开始在相信自己的谎言。如果继续否认我国教育制度所面临的危机,问题只能变得越来越棘手。

更多报道:http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/290040

我国高教水准与英德并肩? 在野党讥讽第二教长幼稚

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第二教长依德利斯尤索昨日指称,我国拥有许多外国学生,足见大马高教水准不逊于发达国家。此言一出,在野党纷纷批评与讥讽。

人民公正党班底谷国会议员努鲁依莎今日发文告形容,上述言论显示依德利斯的逻辑“幼稚”,若按照此逻辑,马来西亚亦拥有大量外劳,理应是个发达国家。

“依德利斯说,马来西亚在全球3万所大学中,排行第9,并吸引外国学生到来。马来西亚并非一所大学,那他谈的究竟是哪一所大学?”

她指出,按照2014年QS世界大学排名,马来西亚没有任何一所大学跻身百大之列,反观依德利斯用以比较的英国、德国与澳洲,则分别有19、3及8所大学列入百大。

四分之一学生毕业后即失业

她还引述世界银行报告,2012年在马20万毕业生当中,其中25.5%失业。

“这显示依德利斯所言非常幼稚与不准确。”

努鲁依莎也是公正党副主席。她说,尽管大专法令第15(2)(c)条文遭废除,但学生与学术自由仍深陷钳制。

“阿当阿里、法米再诺等被捕与受到惩罚,证明了这点;讲师与学术人员学术自由受到钳制,如阿兹米沙隆也在煽动法令下被控。”

她提醒依德利斯,不应继续以毫无意义的数据蒙蔽他人,反之,应真诚检视我国高等教育的弱点。

更多外国学生则会超欧美?

除了努鲁依莎,行动党沙登国会议员王建明也发文告批评依德利斯。

他形容,依德利斯所言实属可笑,更使教育部长一职沦为笑料。

他首先指出,学生决定留学,其考量因素包括生活成本、课程费用、录取条件、奖学金、大学声誉、外国学生名额、教育素质等。

他续说,若仅因我国拥有大量外国学生,即以为我国教育水平达到世界水平,这种想法实在危险,尤其是出自教育部长口中。

“按此逻辑,我国大学若有更多外国学生,则教育水平超过英国与澳洲。”

请证明有人弃牛津来马就读

王建民还指出,我国在QS世界大学排行榜中,并无一所大学进入百大最佳大学。

“除非,部长可获知2015年QS世界排名,显示马来西亚大学排名剧变,否则说我国高等教育水平与英国、德国、澳洲并肩,是荒谬的。”

“如果部长真的认为,基于外国学生人数,我国高等教育水平与英国、德国、澳洲处于同一水平,他是否可以提供一个外国学生名单,显示他们获得剑桥、牛津、伦敦帝国理工学院、伦敦大学学院、澳洲国立大学、悉尼大学、墨尔本大学等录取,却为了前来马来西亚就读,而放弃其录取资格?”

根据《马新社》报道,依德利斯昨日指出,“马来西亚高等教育与发达国家,包括英国、德国、澳洲等并肩……我国拥有13万5000名外国学生,占了高等教育机构10%学生,证明了上述观点。”

更多报道:http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/289896

“贬低大马高教于事无补” 民政促在野党提建设意见

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民政党全国副主席刘华才促请在野党领袖不要一味贬低大马高等教育体制,把它当作攻击国阵政府的政治筹码,反之,应提出建设性意见,协助改善高等教育体制。

他说,为反对而反对是大马在野党的通病,无论是任何课题,落到了在野党手上都会被政治化,变成他们用来攻击政府的武器。

“无可否认,本地大学的素质的确有许多地方需要改进与提升,但是马来西亚大学的排名在近几年来也的确是有所改进,这是不争的事实。在野党不应该一味的贬低及泼冷水,打击本地大学的士气。”

批评不会造就顶尖大学

刘华才(右图)在今天文告表示,大马大学距离“世界级”大学还有一段很长的路要走。

“这个过程只能稳步改善,一步一脚印的提升本地大学的世界排名,绝不可能一蹴而就,更不可能因为在野党的一再‘贬低’及‘批评’,就能成为世界顶尖大学。”

他表示,要本地大学挤身世界顶尖大学之列,需要各造的集思广意,提出建设性的意见来改善现有高等教育体系的弱点及提升大学的教学素质。

更多报道:http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/290428

Malaysia is education destination ‘of last resort’

S RAMAKRISHNAN is a former senator.

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Second Education Minister Idris Jusoh claims that Malaysia’s higher education system is now on par with developed nations like the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia in view of the fact that the 135,000 foreign students here make up 10 percent of all students in local institutions of higher learning. Many had expressed their reservation and disagreement over his claims. Below are some more facts as to how far away the minister’s claims are from on the ground reality.

Many students from China are enrolled in local colleges that have twinning programmes with foreign universities. Many foreign countries have limited places for students from China. Malaysia is a stepping stone for these students to get foreign degrees or migrate to a third country.

Students from China choose Malaysia as they feel at home here with the local Chinese culture and food are affordable. They are not here to get a Malaysian education. The Education Ministry has neglected the English language but in the private sector and colleges, English is still the lingua franca.

Australians students in Malaysia are few and far between. The reverse instead is true. Malaysian students are in large numbers in Australia because of the high Australian education standards.

We have a large number of Middle Easterners here because of Islamophobia in the west. Besides, many Middle Eastern students get scholarships from the Malaysian government. Malaysia is considered moderate by these students who come from hard-line countries. Quite a number of these students are also escaping the rigid and hard-line policies in their home countries.

Malaysia is a stepping stone for Middle Easterners before they migrate to third countries. Malaysia is also relatively cheaper for those among them who want a degree. Many are here to learn English before they go back. There are, in fact, more Middle East students than local non-Malays in local public universities.

Some North African students are enrolled in public universities due to the support received from Islamic bodies that help them to continue their studies here. A lawyer friend of mine told me that nearly 30 percent of African students are languishing in Malaysian prisons for violating immigration laws, drug dealing or some illegal activities.

The local police, too, seem to find African students easy targets for some offence. The Malaysian government spends millions keeping these students in prison. It’s a big drain on the government coffers.

All the above does not say much about Malaysia being a regional education hub. It is the foreign affiliations and twinning arrangements that bring foreign students to Malaysia. In fact, many more Malaysian students would have left for foreign universities if not for the twinning programmes that links them to local colleges and universities.

The brutal fact is that foreign students are here not because of our education standards. It is the third world countries’ students who come here to study. Therefore, Mr Minister, please do not use the high number of foreign students to measure the standard and quality of our higher education system.

See more at: http://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/290404