Thursday, November 22, 2007

Letter by Mark Disney on Local Universities

This is a letter by Mark Disney to Malaysiakini. The link is here . This letter offers a different perspectives on the ranking and it offers several constructive suggestions on how we can improve our local institutions of higher learning.

Without reproducing the entire letter, I am quoting the suggestions on how to improve our local institutions from the letter.

To read in full, do refer to the link above.

-----
Varsity rankings are like beauty contests
Mark Disney


We can all play this game, but to kick off, I offer a few feasible steps to improvement:

Mindset changes

This must start at the undergraduate level where restrictive cultural mindsets need shaking up. Postgraduate work, research and development, commercialisation and publication levels all need attention but this is a somewhat separate issue from undergraduate teaching, which has to be a lot livelier and more student-centred.


Recruit the best

Ensure that our top students wish to and are able to enter the IPTAs and that our best brains remain in Malaysia to teach them. This means changes to the current admissions policies based solely on STPM and matriculation – how about A' Levels, UEC, SDAM or SAT? It also means cutting back on the number of government-sponsored overseas students, at least at undergraduate level.

If our brightest and best-connected (calling all politicians, corporate figures and senior civil servants) went to government universities, then standards would have to improve. Currently, everyone bemoans the fact that our universities are race-obsessed but this is only one schism. What people seem to forget is that they are socially and economically divided too, with most well-to-do parents from all races opting for private or foreign universities.


Differentiate

We desperately need centres of excellence that function under a different set of rules from the others. Some should be research-focused, others teaching-centred and others specialist institutions. Admittedly, this is already happening but we need a quantum leap because we can't wait another generation.


Incentives for staff

Top researchers and top teachers should be appropriately rewarded. They also need greater academic freedom or why would the good ones wish to remain? The tendency to treat all academic staff as civil servants with set pay scales, duties and promotion procedures means that you will get a civil service-style mentality and quality. This observation also applies to students. Nobody should be surprised that our graduates seem timid and immature when they are treated like school children at university.

----

13 comments:

honyang said...

Malaysia has never been in any education race, in the sense of fair and free race, not even locally, let alone globally. The institutions of higher learning served to issue "certificates of fitness" for employment and not to provide education per se.

It is all in a dream or in playing a role in movie until globalisation sets in. The day of reckoning is near. It is unfair that the person who brought the dilemma to his followers enjoyed the image of the saviour without impunity, and yet he claimed that the government of the day was wrong to change the course he had set.

The true enemy for progress in Malaysia is the BN, its management and system……….nothing else. Malaysia will fall further south Singapore due to self inflicting.

Good and proper education is the foundation of a successful multi racial and religious nation. Education is not just about academic results alone. Decades of aggressive and damaging politic of race and religion had a long term and permanent consequences on the country and people.

The incompetent, narrow, selfish and shortsighted leaders had failed Malaysia and its ordinary people for far too long. It is very sad to see a promising country lead by donkeys and monkeys into battle.

We continue to churn out graduates in great numbers. Very soon we will get our name into the Guinness Book of Record for producing the most number of unemployable graduates in the world!

Some of them are now working as domestic servants, office boys, taxi drivers. Obviously something is very wrong with our education system, or is it something else more "cynical"?

No hope for Malaysia. We are slowly and surely going downhill. By year 2020 the whole economy will collapse.

On the contrary (Sorry to deliberate misunderstand one, but this is too good to pass up). Education in Malaysia is all about race. Unfortunately, it is the wrong race. The authorities are more concerned with which race you belong to - Chinese, Indian, Malay, etc. Tell them that we belong to the human race.

Our education system is in backyard. We were behind 30 years and how are we going to catch up. Just propaganda here and there will not bring us anyway. Malaysia is very busy brainwashing the students and not teaching them how to brainstorm to solve problems!

We lost it long ago and nothing left.

julee said...

This country has racist laws that discriminate against minority citizens. Over the last 3 decades the discrimination has gotten from bad to worse.

The policies of this government reminds us of South Africa's apartheid days which was condemned by all humanity.

I wonder how these racists can reconcile their actions with the tenets of their religion.

San said...

Malaysia has never been in any education race, in the sense of fair and free race, not even locally, let alone globally. The institutions of higher learning served to issue "certificates of fitness" for employment and not to provide education per se.

It is all in a dream or in playing a role in movie until globalisation sets in. The day of reckoning is near. It is unfair that the person who brought the dilemma to his followers enjoyed the image of the saviour without impunity, and yet he claimed that the government of the day was wrong to change the course he had set.

The true enemy for progress in Malaysia is the BN, its management and system……….nothing else. Malaysia will fall further south Singapore due to self inflicting.

Good and proper education is the foundation of a successful multi racial and religious nation. Education is not just about academic results alone. Decades of aggressive and damaging politic of race and religion had a long term and permanent consequences on the country and people.

The incompetent, narrow, selfish and shortsighted leaders had failed Malaysia and its ordinary people for far too long. It is very sad to see a promising country lead by donkeys and monkeys into battle.

We continue to churn out graduates in great numbers. Very soon we will get our name into the Guinness Book of Record for producing the most number of unemployable graduates in the world!

Some of them are now working as domestic servants, office boys, taxi drivers. Obviously something is very wrong with our education system, or is it something else more "cynical"?

No hope for Malaysia. We are slowly and surely going downhill. By year 2020 the whole economy will collapse.

On the contrary (Sorry to deliberate misunderstand one, but this is too good to pass up). Education in Malaysia is all about race. Unfortunately, it is the wrong race. The authorities are more concerned with which race you belong to - Chinese, Indian, Malay, etc. Tell them that we belong to the human race.

Our education system is in backyard. We were behind 30 years and how are we going to catch up. Just propaganda here and there will not bring us anyway. Malaysia is very busy brainwashing the students and not teaching them how to brainstorm to solve problems!

We lost it long ago and nothing left.

San said...

This kind of word play shows a complete contempt for the intelligence of the Malaysian public.

Public perception in Malaysia is a crude measure of any institution's performance because the information provided to the public is generally packaged and filtered by Umno-controlled television station and media.

Universities are themselves fiefdoms, controlled not by qualified and capable academic administrators, but rather by Umno political appointees, many of whom have absolutely no background in education management.

Clearly it is because the results of the THES and virtually every other public or private ranking system show Malaysia institutions to be mediocre at best and most rankings do not even mention Malaysia at all.

Our neighbors like Singapore, Korea, Japan, China and Australia have a number of institutions that regularly appears in the top 100.

It makes no sense. The reality is that our universities are simply mediocre extensions of a flawed high school system. Our best students have no choice but to travel abroad to earn a decent education and must do so at great costs.

Our government has shown by example, that nepotism, deceit, corruption and bribery are the key ingredients for success in this nation.

yuking said...

· Canada is a multi racial country like Malaysia.
· Canada is a relatively young country like Malaysia.
· Canada is a very progressive country.
· Canada is one of the G7 countries.
· Canada is one of the highest per capital income in the world now.
· Canada is one of the most developed countries in the world now.
· Canada allows both English and French as its official languages.
· Canada builds many 100% government subsidized French primary and secondary schools and French medium universities.
· Canada has very liberal policy in education and languages.
· Ratio of English speaking citizens vs. French speaking citizens is almost similar to malays and Chinese in Malaysia.

What is Malaysia now? Discrimination, discrimination and more discrimination!

kok said...

NEP as implemented has always involved using government funds for the intended beneficiaries. When it was the intention of the government to create the richest malay to head the list of richest individuals, now announced by the prime minister, the government adopts the policy to give public funds directly or indirectly to private individuals so that he/she can become the richest individual malay in the country.

Mahathir declared that NEP would have met its objective when the government was able to create a millionaire among the malays. It was the first time he extended the objective of NEP to make malay millionaires, and facilitated the use of public funds to enrich his cronies. Badawi now extends the creation of malay millionaires to become malay billionaires, and also to lead in the list of the richest individuals in the country.

It is clear to the whole world that NEP created unfair hardships to the non-malays no matter how Umno wanted to justify it. Unlike article 153 which was supposed to be reviewed after 15 years from 1957, NEP was to be implemented for 20 years from 1970. There was no provision for extension, and the only clearly stated quantitative target was that malays were to achieve 30% of corporate ownership after 20 years.

Badawi pretended that he wanted to be a prime minister for all Malaysians, and called for malays to forgo crutches. At the same time, he conveniently resurrected NEP and extended it to 2020, and his deputy suggested the continuation until 2057, for the present.

Prime minister and his deputy promised a year ago to reveal the methodology adopted by EPU, to challenge the results of ASLI finding that the 30% target had been achieved. His recent announcement makes ASLI finding irrelevant since NEP will continue forever, whatever the actual results show.

Ordinary malays appear to accept to pay a higher price for their motor vehicles when AP system which was exploited to enrich the well connected malays, they appear happy that NEP is continued even though NEP has caused a decline to their standard of living and level of earning. They accept that as a cost for enabling malays to lead the list of the richest individuals in the country.

aston said...

I believe the Badawi son-in-law get into Oxford is because of international allocation seat and not because of intellectual or academic achievement. After all, he shows to everyone that he is brainless.

kentanjim said...

On our education system, it is in fact a very worrying situation. Few of my friends who managed to find a foreign partner or fellow Malaysian with foreign PR status, all have decided not to send their children into our local schools. All of them are not happy with the education system.

I must admit that if I have the option, I would not send my children into our local schools. Our system over emphasizes "spoon feeding" method. Our system mainly teaches the children to be submissive. Our system does not encourage a child thinking process.

Also, I was told by someone that the current school syllabus contains many Islamic elements than those in the 70s and 80s. If this is true, this is a very worrying factor to the non-Muslim community in this country.

Then, there is the problem of deteriorating quality standard of national schools, and over workload for children attending Chinese schools.

Sometimes children have more pressure than us, being an adult. They loss their childhood wonder years. We can go for a holiday when we get burnt out. But children have to bring along their homework, if they are going for year-end holiday.

The current system of education in Malaysia and the attendant political interference is like a time bomb. Our ministry of education is paralysed to effect any meaningful and positive changes to rectify the sorry state it is in.

Who will suffer ultimately but a whole new generation of young Malaysians who are like the proverbial sacrificial lambs on the altar of political expediency?

Already we are seeing the present generation of "unemployable" graduates emerging from our universities, all a result of the nationalistic syllabus.

If we carry on like this for another 10/20 years, can you imagine the sort of people running our country in the future? If our present crops of ministers are an embarrassment to our country, dare we imagine what the future situation will be like?

It is time for those malay politicians to wake up to the reality that our education system has failed to produce the right employable graduates for our job market. Too much emphasis on race factors has turned our education system into another malay affirmative apparatus at the expense of quality education to produce the needed human resources for our country

We are human and we have a higher level of intelligence than many others. If you cannot get employment, then change to something else. Be flexible and treat everything as knowledge. Is that so difficult?

By the way, jobs are a plenty and people are just being choosy. The young generation nowadays is just way too pampered! Wake up and see the world!

fargowin said...

Each time I read such comments, it always makes me feel how lucky I am to out of Malaysia.

Emigration is not for everybody but those who have done so, ultimately feel highly rewarded in terms of the future for themselves and their kids. Imagine them growing in an environment devoid of racial, ethnic and religious discrimination.

More importantly, they are now exposed to a wider community that embraces multiculturism, meritocracy, fair go and personal freedom. Guess which group will be better equipped to face the future challenges in this world?

ruyom said...

Our BN government is apartheid, corrupted and racist. Decisions are made for a few and a specific group and not for the masses. Period.

40 years ago Singapore left Malaysia. A little red dot with no natural resources has become a country which enables its citizens to average a per capita income six times that of Malaysia, based on foreign exchange rate.

The success story was made possible because the civil servants of Singapore are not corrupted, the ministers are not corrupted, and also the police are not corrupted.

Ministers in Malaysia may be paid RM300000 a year, but they live in palatial dwellings. Apparently, the ministers here only do part time job for their positions, and spend the rest of the time doing business. Is there no rule to prohibit minister doing business?

If there is, then it is easy enough to check whether their salaries and allowances could provide them the wealth and lifestyle. If not, then there is clear evidence of moonlighting.

Even though Malaysia ministers are paid maybe one-sixth that of their Singapore counterparts, Malaysia ministers are really Boleh in accumulating wealth. Either they earn it themselves, or they have especially gifted siblings or off-springs.

Without substantial inheritance to start with, there are many siblings and off-springs of past and current ministers who have accumulated hundreds of millions or billions in matter of years.

When ministers have such rich relatives, they are naturally surprised that price increase in ringgit and sen should arouse those "uncalled for reactions" such as what happened last time. The incident was a threat to the "Semuanya ok" image of Malaysia and had to be dealt with sternly.

If only Malaysia had uncorruptable ministers, then with our natural resources we should have at least the same level of per capita income as Singapore. If only the people subscribed to Malaysian Malaysia back then, we will not have to be so concerned about the price increase now.

Due to poor financial management of previous leader, the old man, the current government is running in deficit, thus the increase and change lifestyle. Most of the thing we buy today is not value for money.

A crooked people will vote for government that build crooked bridge. So as a corrupted people will vote for corrupted government. It is democracy, incompetence government reflects its incapable people. Wake up, Malaysians.

Most of government's subsidies were channeled back to support those Ali Babas, corporate bailouts for MAS and Proton, cronies, lazy-to-work entrepreneurs, university students with few As, and etc.

What is the use of saving government subsidies on oil? So that Umno leaders can buy more luxury cars and feed their cronies?

This is the corrupted lifestyle of BN politicians and their cronies. They should change their lifestyle first before asking the people to change! They are doing unimaginable damage to this country and its future through their arrogance, corruption, and sheer incompetence!

50 years is enough because we do not choose you to tell us "change our lifestyle". The BN government is not admitting its mistake in mismanagement of public fund.

Najib and all Umno leaders are living in a different world altogether. They do not have the slightest inkling about the pains the people have to bear. They are filthy rich. Without empathy, how can the leaders think of the sufferings of the people!

Suffice to say, the affluent are much too detached from the realities of ordinary people to empathise with the struggles of daily living and therefore, make nonsensical comments about a paradise not known to many simple Malaysians.

How many more years do we have to put up with this shitty thing call BN. Gosh……….50 years is damn long, enough is enough.

Yes, let us change lifestyle once and for all by changing the government - that make perfect sense.

coolooc said...

Those Umno pea-brained morons are products of Mahathir. Difference is that Mahathir did all the talking and walking and kept his morons in cages.

Now, Badawi is not the talker nor walker, if fact, he is the sleeper. So much that these pea-brained morons have been let loose to display their stupidity of the highest degree.

Malaysia is now famous internationally for having morons running the country, one such moronic act was being performed live on Al Jazeera. Please don't mention anymore name, we may have underage kids reading.

konek said...

Do you think that our politicians actually care whether the universities are good? They want to produce followers, not leaders. They sent their own children overseas so that they come back to lead the followers.

Our followers think that the politicians are doing a great job by allowing more and more citizens into universities; voting them in office time after time.

There will come the time when the country is full of unemployed graduates. That is when the followers will hopefully wake up to the reality.

As for the VCs, head of departments, deans etc, they just follow the instructions and examples of their political masters. Just see all the wastage, injustice, inefficiency, discrimination, cronyism etc, and you will realise that they also have their political agendas just like their masters.

Bad intentions, bad universities.

shinwee said...

The only method BN can stay in power is to keep the nation stupid, uninformed and struggling to put food on their tables.

If the nation is stupid, then they will ask less questions. Unable to think logically and systematically, everything that the BN force feed to the nation will just be taken at face value. BN says that malays should be given more help.

If the nation is uninformed, then BN will have less to worry about stealing their money and telling a totally different story of how they are helping them get better. Take a million, donate a thousand.

If nation is struggling to put food on the table, the less time they have to care about the decapitated political condition in the country. So BN can just continue to marginalize every single person who is not a malay.

So why talk about them not reaching their promised goal of being first world when it is not their goal since day one. Everyone here knows what their goal is. We know that their promises are as empty as their heads.

What they want is to get as much money as possible and stash them in some other country because sooner or later, the ringgit will be worthless. Maybe cheaper than rupiah.

We will have to see if that really happens after the next election.