Thursday, October 15, 2009

King Cautions Malaysians Over Cheap And Fake Degrees

SHAH ALAM, Oct 15 (Bernama) -- Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin today cautioned Malaysians against acquiring unrecognised cheap degrees secured illegally.

"Such a thing is morally wrong and, if left unchecked, will make us all members of a fake society without morals as well," he said at the first session of the 71st convocation of Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), here. Also present was Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Nur Zahirah.

As such, he proposed that UiTM and all other universities adopt appropriate measures to ensure quality, recognition and integrity of the degrees they awarded.

"We must undertake strict and close monitoring of any individual who comes bearing a degree to seek employment.

"We must make sure that the degree is genuine and is recognised ... we must ensure that the bearer is a capable individual whom we can trust to educate our children," he said.

Tuanku Mizan said the achievement of the graduates at the convocation was derived through hard work and wisdom, and that these graduates of quality and integrity would go on to mould a highly civilised society.

At the convocation, 21,128 graduates were awarded honours ranging from diplomas to PhD, taking the number of people graduating from UiTM this year to 35,009 and expanding the alumni of the university to more than 350,000 people.

The king advised the graduates and alumni to safeguard the good name of the university.

Also at the convocation, Tuanku Mizan presented an honorary doctorate in government and politics to former deputy prime minister Tun Musa Hitam for his contribution and service to the government and party, enabling him to be recognised as a statesman and credible politician.

Tuanku Mizan presented doctorate degrees to 16 people and the Masters degree to 402 as well as the outstanding graduate awards to nine.

The Seri Paduka Baginda Tuanku Chancellor Award was presented to Nik Muammar Bahari, 24, of Kedah who secured an honorary Bachelor's degree in Art and Design.

Nik Muammar has been working as a project designer in Hong Kong since July and is engaged with the corporate branding of the Qatar National Master Plan project.

Mohd Rashid Azhari, 34, the eldest son of Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan, received his Masters in Forensic Accounting and Financial Criminology. Mohd Rashid is a manager with a consulting company.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

More adult Malaysians turn to the Net for sex info - Star

Oct 13, 2009 By JOSHUA FOONG

PETALING JAYA: More adults are relying on the Internet to get information on sex, according to a Durex Sexual Wellbeing Survey.

As much as 75% of Malaysians gave credit to the Internet for teaching them the bedroom “how-tos”.

Men (75%) outnumber women (71%) in using the Internet to surf about sex.

Seventy-three per cent of the respondents also learn about sex through magazines.

Other sources include books (65%), friends and peers (56%) and partners (43%).

All these surpass sex education at school, which makes up only 36% of them.

The number of respondents was at 1,026 with an equal number of women and men aged 18 years and above.

Despite the figures, less than half of Malaysians — 45% of men and 39% of women — think there is enough advice and information available on the issue.

The survey stated that 73% of Malaysians who had formal sex education are satisfied with their sexual wellbeing while the global average of sexual satisfaction stands at 59%.

However, the survey also found that 51% of those who received sex education at school did not learn about conception while 71% were not taught about sexually transmitted diseases.

Less than half of Malaysians (48%) had wished their sex education had included love, respect and on giving pleasure to one’s partner.

It found that about 44% of those aged between 16 and 24 liked to have received more information on the subject in comparison to 62% among those aged between 35 and 44.

The survey is the fourth in a series of reports by Durex, with this one emphasising on knowledge and education.

Previous results of the three surveys titled “Satisfaction”, “In the Bedroom” and “The Big O” can be found on

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Public, Private Universities Receive RM25 Million Research Grants

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 9 (Bernama) -- The government has allocated RM25 million under the Fundamental Research Grant Scheme (FRGS) to sponsor 602 projects undertaken by public and private universities this year.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said 20 researchers from public universities and three from private universities received the sponsorship this year.

He said public universities had been allocated with RM23.63 million to carry out 411 projects while private universities received RM1.41 million to bring 191 projects to fruition.

The grants were channelled through the Education Ministry, the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry, and the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry, he told reporters at the International Exposition of Research and Invention of Institutions of Higher Learning 2009 (PECIPTA 2009) award presentation here on Friday.

He said the FRGS research focused on pure science, applied science, engineering and technology, medical science, social science and humanities, arts and professional arts and natural sciences, and national heritage.

Universiti Malaya was adjudged the winner of the Premier Research Award, having clinched four gold, 14 silver and 10 bronze medals in PECIPTA 2009.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) came in a close second with four gold, 11 silver and 11 bronze medals.

PECIPTA 2009 with the theme "Driving Research Innovation Towards Value Creation" scrutinised 465 research submitted by 22 public and private universities.

It was jointly held by Higher Education Ministry and Universiti Malaya to spur innovations by local universities.


Survey finds firms now want accountants to go beyond crunching numbers - Malaysian Insider

SINGAPORE, Oct 10 — Post-crisis, accountants who believe their job is solely about counting beans and making sure the balance sheet balances will do so at their own peril.

As the operations and strategies of firms become inextricably linked with numbers and finance, accountants need be more than number crunchers, Tony Osude, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants' (ACCA) acting director of professional development, told an ACCA conference yesterday.

“In our interviews with chief financial officers, I am getting a sense of frustration from them that accountants are not stepping up to act as the companies' business partners,” said Osude.

As businesses become increasingly pressed for solutions in a credit-scarce environment, it has become crucial to bridge the gap between practical business knowhow and financial acumen.

Research done for the latest ACCA Accountants for Business report found that some business leaders are beginning to consider training business personnel in finance to bridge that gap, instead of turning to accountants for counsel.

“This has quite significant and severe implications for the accounting profession,” Osude warned yesterday.

In the survey, the finance director of a venture capital fund management firm had said: “A bad accountant will produce a set of numbers. A good accountant will say there is a set of numbers, use a bit of analysis and provide a description of what it means for the business.”

Even when accountants do offer analysis of the business, the bar has been raised. “Accountants are very good at cutting costs but very poor at driving profits,” Osude said.

“European companies, for example, have been doing a lot of cost-cutting and the figures look OK. But what will happen next year when there are no more costs to cut?”

As part of a seismic shift in accounting approaches caused by the downturn, if cash was king before, it is now supreme ruler. “The past few months have been about cash, cash, cash. All the accountants we interviewed said that in terms of strategy, they are not looking beyond the next month,” Osude revealed.

Across the landscape of accountants, some sand dunes dwarf others. The report found that 65 per cent of respondents placed the CFO within the top five finance roles that add the most value to organisations, compared with 22 per cent for financial accountants and 18 per cent for heads of risk management.

While all the implications of such numbers are not immediately clear — Osude conceded that respondents could merely have taken a hierarchical view to answering the question — one implication is certain.

“There is too much riding on the shoulders of the CFO — he is doing too much,” said Osude.

The survey also unearthed a growing need for effective finance information technology systems, so the accountant spends less time bound to his spreadsheet and more time analysing the final numbers.

A partner from one of the Big Four accounting firms is quoted in the report as saying: “What we've found is that they spend so much time producing the number . . . and reworking and re-crunching it. . . They collapse it into the meeting not even having thought what the number means.”

The survey was conducted online with 1,353 ACCA members from more than 170 countries. — Business Times Singapore

Unitar should be re-engineered as a niche university – Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 9 – Universiti Tun Abdul Razak (Unitar), the private institution of higher learning which was set up in 1997, should be re-engineered as a niche university, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said today.

Apart from playing its role as a boutique university which focused on small intakes of students, he said that the university should also be re-engineered to fulfil the country’s needs.

“We have no intention of turning Unitar into a mass university but to let it remain as a ‘boutique’ university, giving emphasis to a small number of students, reflecting the university’s quest for quality,” he said when opening Unitar’s Razak Campus at Capital Square, Jalan Munshi Abdullah here.

Najib said Unitar, which offers 40 first degree and post-graduate courses, including in the field of business administration and information technology, should also cater for the country’s human capital development.

“When Unitar board of directors discuss the university’s re-engineering process, they should look into its niche area,” he said.

The prime minister said that Unitar should also forge networking with various institutions either locally or internationally to further enhance its quality and status. In doing so, Najib said the university should choose the best partners.

“This should be the philosophy of Unitar’s re-engineering. I hope that we will do everything possible to achieve higher quality,” he said.

Earlier, Najib witnessed the exchange of documents related to new collaborative agreements between Unitar and UEM Group Berhad, Kumpulan Karangkraf Sdn Bhd and Amanah Raya Berhad.

Unitar recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with UEM in which the university’s Centre for Executive Education would receive an endowment of RM10 million from UEM to be used for the UEM Warriors program.

Following this, one of the university’s lecture halls will be renamed the “UEM Lecture Hall.”

Under the MoA with Karangkraf, Unitar will offer a RM1 million scholarship annually to selected students chosen at Karangkraf’s discretion, to pursue courses at the university. In return, the publishing company will offer Unitar RM1 million worth of advertisement in its publications per annum.

The MoA with Amanah Raya Berhad is for a collaboration in programme development, executive development and research grants in Islamic wealth management.

Unitar, named after Najib’s father and Malaysia’s second prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, is the first private university in the country and took its first intake of 162 students in September 1998.

The university was launched by Najib, who was then the Education Minister, on Dec 21, 1998. – Bernama

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Rankings 09: Asia advances

8 October 2009 By Phil Baty

America's superpower status is slipping as other countries' efforts to join the global elite begin to pay dividends. Phil Baty reports

The US domination of the top ranks of global higher education is not as strong as it has been in previous years. The Times Higher Education-QS World University Rankings 2009 show that institutions in Asian countries such as Hong Kong and Japan are growing in stature.

Although Harvard University is still ranked number one in the table of the world's top 200 universities - for the sixth consecutive year - American supremacy seems to be slipping.

While the US still has by far the most institutions in the top 200, with a total of 54, it has lost five institutions from the top 100 and four have dropped out of the top 200 altogether.

The country's decline comes amid improved showings by institutions in Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Malaysia.

Philip Altbach, director of the Centre for Higher Education at Boston College in the US, says several factors are behind the surges by Asian institutions.

"These countries have invested heavily in higher education in recent years, and this is reflected in the improved quality in their top institutions," he says. "They have also attempted to internationalise their universities by hiring more faculty from overseas ... this helps to improve their visibility globally.

"These universities have also stressed the importance of their professors publishing in international journals, which has no doubt increased the visibility of their research."

But he adds that this drive for internationalisation and success in global rankings may be "debatable in terms of good policy" for Asian institutions. For example, he says, stressing the importance of publishing in international journals may "tilt research away from topics relevant for national development", and fostering the use of the English language "may have a negative impact on intellectual work in the local language".

Japan counts 11 institutions in the top 200, among them two new entrants: the University of Tsukuba sharing 174th place and Keio University making an impressive debut at 142nd. Japan's representatives in the top 100 rose in number from four to six, led by the University of Tokyo at 22nd place (down from 19th).

Despite having a total of only eight government-funded tertiary institutions, Hong Kong has five institutions in the top 200, up from four last year.

Its tally includes three in the top 50: the University of Hong Kong (up two places to 24th); Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (up four to 35th); and the Chinese University of Hong Kong (down four to 46th). City University of Hong Kong rocketed up the table to 124th, from joint 147th, in its 25th anniversary year. Hong Kong Polytechnic University made the top 200, reaching 195th place.

South Korea now has four universities in the top 200, with new entrant Yonsei University in at joint 151st. Seoul National University is the country's highest-placed institution, sharing 47th place.

Malaysia returned to the top 200 with its Universiti Malaya entering at 180th place.

China replicated its standing from last year, with two institutions in the top 100 and a total of six in the top 200. The country's top-rated institution, Tsinghua University, climbed from 56th place to joint 49th, while Peking University slipped from 50th to joint 52nd. Fudan University moved up to joint 103rd from 113th.

The rise of Asia is in direct contrast to the US' fortunes. The most dramatic illustration of its slide is apparent in the top ten. Although America still claims six of the top ten spots, Yale University has slipped from second to third place in the past year - overtaken by the University of Cambridge - and the California Institute of Technology has fallen from number five to number ten.

This slide lends credence to the predictions of several international higher education experts that the US will soon lose its international ascendancy.

Don Olcott, head of the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education, spoke in August about the rise of the "new global regionalism" threatening Anglo-American dominance.

"Are we really naive enough to think that China, India, Malaysia, South Korea, the Gulf states and others do not want to build long-term, high-quality, sustainable university systems?" he told Times Higher Education.

At an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development conference earlier this year, it was suggested that the US and the UK would be hit far harder than most countries by the need for future public spending cuts because both will need to reduce massive budget deficits. A number of countries in Asia, including Japan and Korea, will face an easier ride. Delegates spoke of a resulting major "redistribution of brains".

According to Ben Sowter, head of research at QS, which compiles the tables for Times Higher Education, the fallout caused by America's economic problems may ultimately result in its institutions sliding even lower in subsequent rankings. As 40 per cent of the overall ranking score is based on a survey of academics' opinions (see "Talking points", page x), the US' slip in 2009 may have more to do with the improvement in the reputation of Asian institutions brought about by better marketing and communication, he says.

"In the six years of conducting this study, we have seen a drastically increased emphasis on international reputation from institutions in many countries, particularly those in Asia," he notes.

Like its southern neighbour, Canada's overall position in the rankings also dropped. It registered 11 institutions in the top 200, compared with 12 in 2008. Its two best performers both rose - McGill University climbed from 20th place to 18th, while the University of Toronto shot up from 41st to 29th - but others slipped.

Australia has nine institutions in the top 200, the same number as last year, but it increased its representation in the top 100 from seven to eight.

The Australian National University, the highest-placed institution outside the US and the UK, slipped from 16th to 17th, but Melbourne, Sydney, Queensland and Monash all improved their positions.

Russia has two institutions in the top 200, with new entrant Saint-Petersburg State University in at joint number 168.

Sweden also has one new entrant; the University of Gothenburg moved up to 185th place to lift Sweden's tally to five in the top 200. Brazil and Argentina, which had one university each in the 2008 rankings, both fell out of the top 200 altogether.


More details:

Universiti Malaya climbs 50 spots to No. 180 in THE-QS rankings - Star

Oct 8, 2009 By KAREN CHAPMAN

PETALING JAYA: Universiti Malaya (UM) has put Malaysia back in the top 200 of the prestigious Times Higher Education (THE) – QS World University Rankings 2009 when it climbed 50 places from last year to 180 this year.

QS managing director Nunzio Quacquarelli said the rankings identified not just the most highly-ranked universities in the world, but also the best performing universities in key subject areas, the universities most targeted by employers, those producing the best research, those investing in teaching and those with the most international profile.

Another local university that improved in rankings was Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), standing at 320 compared to 356 last year.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) dropped between one and 41 places to 291, 314 and 345 respectively (see chart).

QS Quacquarelli Symonds Ltd Intelligence Unit head Ben Sowter said UM’s resurgence into the top 200 was clearly impressive.

“The apparent collective effort at the university to attract a greater proportion of international students suggests a progressive outlook,” he said in an e-mail interview.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin told The Star that the ministry knew the universities’ weaknesses were in citations per faculty and peer review.

Harvard University tops the rankings once again; followed by Cam­bridge, Yale, University College Lon­don, Imperial College, Oxford Univer­sity, Chicago University, Princeton Uni­­ver­­sity, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and California Insti­tute of Technology. The highest ranked Asian institutions in the rankings are Tokyo Uni­ver­sity (22), Hong Kong University (24), Kyoto University (25) and National Uni­versity of Singapore (30).

UM vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Ghauth Jasmon said the success would be a major boost to the morale and motivation of all staff and students to work harder.

“The redefinition of key performance indicators for the academics and the new initiatives implemented in international networking, recruitment of international staff and students have produced a quick, positive impact,” he said.

UTM vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Zaini Ujang said the improvement in the university’s rankings is a result of its strategy in networking, quality, strategic research, synergy and organisational culture.

On UKM’s drop from 250 to 291, its deputy vice-chancellor (Academic and International Affairs) Prof Dr Hassan Basri said the university was not surprised by the drop as THE-QS had indicated that the methodological adjustments and survey dynamics would significantly contribute to a drop in the scores for the academic peer review and employer survey criteria over a three-year period starting in the year 2008.

UPM vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Nik Mustapha R. Abdullah said he was surprised that the university’s rankings dropped as its achievements were better last year compared to previously.