Sunday, November 28, 2010

133 percent increase of PhD holders - NST

KUALA LUMPUR: The number of PhD holders among academic staff in public universities had increased by 133 per cent since 2005, said Higher Education Department director-general Datuk Dr Radin Umar Radin Sohadi.

He said now there were 14,000 PhD holders compared to 6,000 in 2005.

Of the 14,000, 60 per cent were PhD holders in science fields covering pure science, applied science, engineering, biology, physics, medical and technology and the rest in social and human sciences, he told reporters on the sidelines of the 4th Graduate Studies Conference here today.

The two-day conference organised by the Malaysian Deans of Graduate Studies (MyDegs) in collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education and several local universities was opened by MyDegs chairman Prof Dr Rose Alinda Alias.

Radin Umar said this (producing more PhD holders) was among the biggest achievements of the ministry in its effort to have researchers, scientists and engineers who were on par with their counterparts in advanced nations.

He said the ministry had also planned several strategies including considering exemption or reducing study fees for those who intend to further their studies up to the Masters and PhD's levels to further increase the number of highly qualified academic staff.

Apart from increasing the number of researchers, scientists and engineers, the ministry would also strengthen its research and innovation work as well as implement a programme called MyBrain 15 to produce 100,000 researchers in a period of 15 years, he added. -- BERNAMA

Thursday, November 25, 2010

OUM grads thrive on PhD challenges - NST

Nov 21, 2010

Dr Baljinder (second from left) with 6 other PhD graduates from left: Dr Patrick Wong, Dr Lum, Dr Sia, Dr Richard Ng, Dr Wong and Dr Aminah

PURSUING a PhD qualification is not a spur-of-the-moment decision as it entails rigorous study and great persistence. Baljinder Singh, however, sees the endeavour as a normal progression in his career as an academic.

The senior lecturer with a public university in Sarawak says pursuing a doctorate degree was his way of proving a point to his students.

"In the life of an academic, there should never be a full stop when it comes to the pursuit of knowledge. To be an effective educator, keeping abreast with the latest development in one's field is essential and, there is no better way of doing so than to embark on a PhD journey."
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He acknowledges that it requires patience and fortitude to reach the finishing line. "I had my fair share of 'turbulence' in my PhD journey but I was lucky as it occurred mainly during the initial stage of my research," says Baljinder, who graduated with a PhD in Education at Open University Malaysia's (OUM) ninth convocation recently.

He was among the first batch of seven PhD graduates who received their scrolls from chancellor Tun Jeanne Abdullah. The convocation saw 5,931 graduates receiving their scrolls.

Baljinder says he was fortunate to have a capable supervisor who provided him with much-needed guidance and push whenever he lagged. "With his guidance, feedback and critical comments, I was able to complete my study in slightly less than four years."

Despite receiving offers from various universities for him to do his PhD, Baljinder opted to do his at OUM.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Majlis Kovokesyen OUM ke 9: 20 - 23 Nov 2010

YABhg Canselor OUM, Tun Jeanne Abdullah dan YBhg Pro-Canselor OUM, Tan Sri Azman Hashim

Majlis Konvokesyen OUM ke 9 dari 20 hingga 23 November 2010 menyaksikan seramai 5931 orang pelajar menerima ijazah mereka masing-masing. Pada konvokesyen ini juga OUM berjaya melahirkan 7 orang graduan pada julung kalinya dalam program Ijazah Doktor Falsafah di mana 4 orang akan menerima Ijazah Doktor Falsafah dalam bidang Pentadbiran Perniagaan, 2 orang menerima Ijazah Doktor Falsafah dalam bidang Pendidikan dan seorang lagi menerima Ijazah Doktor Falsafah dalam bidang Kejuruteraan.

Presiden OUM, YBhg Tan Sri Dr Anuwar Ali, sedang menyampaikan ucapannya.

Klip video ucapan YBhg Tan Sri Presiden:

Klip video ucapan YABhg Tun Canselor:

Kumpulan pertama penerima Ijazah Doktor Falsafah OUM dari kiri: Dr. Patrick Wong, Dr. Baljinder Singh, Dr. Lum Heap Sum, Dr. Malcolm Sia, Dr. Richard Ng, Dr. Wong Siaw Ming and Dr. Aminah Hashim

Klip video penganugerahan Ijazah Doktor Falsafah:

Pengarah OUM Perak, Richard Ng, menerima Ijazah Doktor Falsafah dari YABhg Tun Jeanne Abdullah, Canselor OUM

Sdra Yunus sedang menerima Ijazah Sarjana Muda Perakaunan dari Tun Canselor

Dalam majlis yang sama seramai 254 orang graduan akan dianugerahkan dengan Ijazah Sarjana, 5517 orang graduan menerima Ijazah Sarjana Muda dan 153 orang akan menerima diploma.

Gambar kenangan dari kiri: Sharizal, Richard Ng, Puan Murni dan Puan Zura

Seperti pada kebiasaannya, majlis konvokesyen dimulakan dengan perarakan graduan, diikuti oleh perarakan akademik dan perarakan besar. Ia kemudian disusuli oleh nyanyian lagu Negaraku dan lagu OUM. Bacaan doa kemudian menusul diikuti oleh ucapan YBhg Tan Sri Presiden merangkap Naib Canselor. Selepas itu Canselor akan mengishtiharkan pembukaan majlis konvokesyen.

Puan Zura dan Puan Murni bergambar bersama Peter Yacob dan Miss Tan

Bergambar bersama pelajar OUM Perak iaitu Cik Vasanthi

Majlis konvokesyen kali ini diadakan dalam 7 sidang mulai 20 November hingga 23 November. Pada hari pertama majlis ini seramai kira-kira 800 orang menerima ijazah masing di sebelah pagi iaitu sidang pertama dan seramai 800 lagi menerima ijazah mereka di sebelah petang dalam sidang kedua.

Puan Zura dan Puan Murni antara tetamu Majlis Konvokesyen ke 9

Graduan OUM Perak program MBA, Chow Kin Wai, bergambar dengan adik saudaranya

Graduan Ijazah Doktor Falsafah menerima ijazah mereka dahulu diikuti dengan graduan Ijazah Sarjana. Ia kemudian diikuti oleh graduan Ijazah Sarjana Muda dan diploma mengikut Fakulti masing-masing.

Salah seorang graduan BNS OUM Perak

Majlis konvokesyen ini merupakan konvokesyen ketiga yang diadakan pada tahun 2010 sahaja. Seramai 320 orang graduan telah berjaya dilahirkan oleh OUM Perak. Antara penerima ijazah pada konvokesyen ini ialah Pengarah OUM Perak, Dr Richard Ng yang menerima Ijazah Doktor Falsafah dalam bidang Pentadbiran Perniagaan.

Sebahagian dari graduan yang hadir

Beberapa orang pelajar dari OUM Perak yang menerima Ijazah Sarjana termasuk Peter Yacob, Chow Kin Wai dan Sdri Tan. Seorang pelajar dari Perak iaitu Hew Teck Soon berjaya menerima Ijazah Sarjana Teknologi Maklumat.

Bergambar bersama graduan BNS sebelum perarakan bermula

OUM Perak juga pada kali pertamanya melahirkan graduan dalam program Ijazah Sarjana Muda Perakaunan dan Ijazah Sarjana Muda Sains Kejururawatan. Sdra Yunus dan Puan Siti Zaleha berjaya muncul sebagai pelajar cemerlang dalam program Ijazah Sarjana Muda Perakaunan.

Perarakan bermula

Turut hadir pada majlis konvokesyen kali ini adalah 3 orang staf OUM Perak iaitu Puan Zura, Puan Murni dan Sdra Sharizal. Selain daripada menyaksikan majlis konvokesyen ini dengan lebih dekat lagi, kehadiran mereka sebenarnya adalah untuk memberi sokongan kepada graduan dari OUM Perak.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

OUM awards posthumous doctorate to founder - NST

Allahyarham Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Haji Abdullah Sanusi Ahmad

KUALA LUMPUR: Open University Malaysia (OUM) today presented an honorary doctorate posthumously to its founder, Tan Sri Abdullah Sanusi Ahmad.

The Doctor of Management degree, awarded at the university's ninth convocation beginning today, is for Abdullah Sanusi's excellence in his career in the public and private sectors and in the field of higher education.

OUM Chancellor Tun Jeanne Abdullah presented the award to Abdullah Sanusi's widow, Puan Sri Hashimah Ismail, at the convocation held at the Putra World Trade Centre here.

Abdullah Sanusi died on Nov 29, 2003 at the age of 67, leaving Hashimah and four sons.

After his appointment as the OUM vice-chancellor in April 2001, Abdullah Sanusi was instrumental in guiding the university into establishing itself as the pioneer open and distance-education institution in Malaysia.

His efforts towards the democratisation of higher education had enabled all levels of society to pursue courses at the university regardless of age, gender, geographical location and previous qualification.

Abdullah Sanusi, who was vice-chancellor of Universiti Malaya from 1994 to 2000, had earned recognition as the founder and pioneer in the establishment of the National Institute of Public Administration (Intan) and the Malaysia Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (Mampu).

Also at today's convocation, teacher Low Suan Hua received the Chancellor's Award for excellence in attaining the Bachelor of Teaching (Primary Education) degree with honours.

The convocation, over four days until Tuesday, will see 5,931 graduands receiving their degrees in various disciplines. Seven of them will receive doctorate degrees, the first from the university. - BERNAMA

Details of Allahyarham Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Haji Abdullah Sanusi Ahmad can be viewed here:

Saturday, November 20, 2010

OUM's First Batch Of PhD Graduates - Bernama

The first batch of seven PhD graduates from left: Dr. Patrick Wong, Dr. Baljinder Singh, Dr. Lum Heap Sum, Dr. Malcolm Sia, Dr. Richard Ng, Dr. Wong Siaw Ming and Dr. Aminah Hashim

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 20 (Bernama)

For the first time since it establishment in 2000, the first batch of seven Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) graduates from the Open University Malaysia (OUM) will receive their scrolls at the university's four-day ninth convocation, beginning Nov 20.

OUM president and vice-chancellor Prof Emeritus Tan Sri Anuwar Ali said four graduates would receive their PhD in Business Administration, two (Education) and another in Engineering.

Speaking to reporters here on Tuesday, he said a total of 5,931 would receive scrolls, with 254 graduating with a masters, bachelor's honours degree (5,517) and 153, diplomas.

"The highest are from the education and languages faculties which contribute 3,679 graduates, business and management (893), science and technology (865), information technology and multimedia communication (284) and 210 graduates from the School of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences," he said.

The Chancellor's Award will be presented to Low Suan Hua who obtained the Bachelor of Teaching (Primary Education) with honours, while Allahyarham Tan Sri Dr Abdullah Sanusi Ahmad will obtain a posthumous honorary degree of Doctor of Management for his contribution as OUM founder and president before his demise in November 2003.

OUM, which held its first convocation in December 2004, has since produced 32,601 graduates.

Meanwhile, eight new courses which will be offered by OUM for the January intake are post-graduate Diploma in Teaching, Bachelor (honours) in Early Childhood Education, Economics and Computer Science, Master of Public Administration, Master of Islamic Studies, Master of Information Technology in Network Computing and Master of English Studies.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Research focus in the industry - NST

The following is the news write up in NST on 15 Nov 2010 based on the interview with Prof. Dr. Mohd Ghazali Mohayidin. Please click on image to enlarge it.

Explanation from Prof. Ghazali, Dean of the Center for Graduate Studies, Open University Malaysia:

Dear All,

The grant is from MOHE. There is no age limit, though the target is those in the middle management, those who can contribute to their own organization. The research project must be organization-based. To apply, your organization and OUM need to sign an MOU. We will use the MOU to apply for the grant. Those interested, please call me.

Prof Ghazali

Giving careers a booth - NST

News write up in NST on the pioneer batch of OUM's doctoral degree graduates (15 Nov 2010). Please click on image to enlarge it.

OUM's Doctoral programme a hit - NST

News write up on Dr. Lum Heap Sum (NST 7 Nov 2010). Please click on image to enlarge it.

OUM student lauds research backed doctoral programme - NST

News write up on Dr. Wong Siaw Ming (NST 31 Oct 2010). Please click on image to enlarge it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

25th AAOU Annual Conference - Penang, Malaysia 28th to 30th Sept 2011

Transforming Asia through Open Distance Learning (ODL)

TRANSFORMING ASIA THROUGH OPEN DISTANCE LEARNING (ODL) has been selected as the main theme for the 25th Annual Conference of Asian Association of Open Universities to focus on the role open and distance learning played in bringing about a major transformation in the education landscape in almost all countries in Asia over the past three and half decades.

Key features of ODL in Asia include huge student population often exceeding 100,000 students (mega universities), the establishment of dedicated single-mode ODL institutions by many governments, the rapid adoption of advances in ICT use and globalization. All these features have shaped the development of ODL and infl uenced the type of ODL systems adopted by various Asian countries.

Abstract & Paper


1. Culture and Social Change

Given that Asian ODL communities are diasporas in evolution, culture and social change are deemed critical for progressive mindsets, knowledge creation and ownership, for learning to benefit everyone. The challenges confronting the transformation that need addressing are complex and would require consideration in context. This sub-theme will address the following areas:

• Empowering marginalized communities in Asia
• Nurturing the culture of lifelong learning
• Overcoming challenges and barriers to culture and social change
• Social networking for development
• Celebrating diversity and multicultural perspectives in ODL
• Culture and learning communities for sustainable development

2. Quality

Distance education is entrenched within a dynamic global marketplace involving a wide range of players. A culture of quality which transcends control mechanisms and managerial dictates has to be inculcated to ensure adequate purview on the activities related to programme development and the processes of teaching and learning. This sub-theme will address the following areas:

• Programme planning and development
• Course design, development, production and delivery
• Learner support services
• Evaluation and assessment
• Effective staff training and development
• Accreditation of programmes and institutions

3. Business Model and the Role of Partnership in ODL

The future of ODL business is heavily dependent on the effective leveraging of ICT infrastructure and on becoming a virtual higher education institution. It relates to the efficacy and sustainability of business models adopted by ODL institutions to create, deliver and capture economic value while delivering education in the contemporary world. This sub-theme will address the following areas:

• Customer segmentation
• Product offering and delivery
• Financial viability
• Value propositions
• Sustainable partnerships

4. Technology

Technology is rapidly transforming the delivery of education and training. The innovative use of
modern multimedia and web-based technologies has enabled the creation of interactive educational and training tools and activities aimed not only at enriching the learning experience of a diverse community of learners but at increasing opportunities for learning as well. This sub-theme will address the following areas:

• Application of mobile technology in open and distance learning
• Development of open education resources (OERs)
• Asynchronous and synchronous delivery of educational content
• Use of web technology in e-learning
• Application of virtual and augmented reality in education
• Bridging the digital divide

5. Future Trends

The transformation of Asia through ODL will hinge on advancements which look ahead and might even anticipate paradigm shifts in this mode of education. This sub-theme will address the following areas:

• Knowledge and innovation
• Management of ODL
• ODL and life long learning
• New technologies for transforming ODL
• Addressing challenges in new learning environments
• Research and development


English shall be the language of the Conference. No translation services will be provided.


Only full papers that are submitted by the specified deadline will be included in the Conference CD proceedings. The submitted papers will not be subjected to editorial changes, thus leaving the responsibility for the quality of language to the author(s).

Important dates

30th May, 2011
Deadline for abstracts

15th June, 2011
Notification of acceptance of abstracts

1st July, 2011
Early-bird registration

15th July, 2011
Deadline for submission of full papers for publication

1st September, 2011
Deadline for registration

Details at:

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Nursing must keep up with technology (The Star)

The nursing profession should be on par with the development of technology to ensure its relevance in the current era, said Open University Malaysia (OUM) chancellor Tun Jeanne Abdullah.

The wife of former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said it was critical to utilise technology to transform the manner nursing care was conceptualised and delivered.

In keeping up with the times, she said, technology should be integrated with nursing as it could contribute enormously to a patient’s health and well-being.

“Thus, integrating technology and caring behaviour in this profession can improve the service provided and maximise the desired patient outcome,” Jeanne said in her keynote address before officiating the International Conference on Nursing (Icon 2010) on Tuesday.

The two-day conference, titled “Technology and Innovation in Nursing”, was organised by OUM and aimed at providing opportunities for participants to deliberate on issues pertaining to clinical practices, education and management in nursing.

On the use of technology, Jeanne said it would bode well for the nursing field as it helped nurses provide a higher quality of care and reduced human error.

She added that the forum was significant for participants to share and discuss how to implement the new concept to the caring profession.

“This conference will be focusing on how technology can contribute to health care efficiency, quality, safety, and would also enhance nurses’ decision-making and patient care while easing overall workloads,” she said.

The inaugural international conference was attended by 222 participants from 22 countries, including Malaysia. A total of 30 papers were presented at the event. — Bernama

2011 Budget: Learning just gets better (NST)

KUALA LUMPUR: The National Union of the Teaching Profession welcomed the abolishment of the Competency Level Assessment or PTK exam for civil servants.

Its secretary-general, Loke Yim Phang, was also happy with the rewards allocated for excellent schools and teachers.

On the employment of native English speakers to teach English, she said the 375 teachers should be in Malaysia for five years.

National Council of Parent-Teacher Associations president, associate professor Datuk Mohd Ali Hassan, gave the thumbs up to the development of religious and vernacular schools and hoped the allocations would be fair.

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim welcomed the budget and hoped that the government would stick to its plans.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the budget had set high targets for the Education and Higher Education Ministries to create world-class students with good thinking skills, creativity and innovation.

The Education Ministry will receive RM29.3 billion while RM10.2 billion will go to the Higher Education Ministry.

Najib said the most important asset of a nation was its human capital.

To improve learning institutions, RM6.4 billion will be set aside to build and upgrade schools, hostels and its facilities, and uphold the status of the teaching profession.

A further RM213 million will be given as a reward to high-performance schools, including its principals, head teachers and excellent teachers.

Religious, vernacular, missionary and government-assisted schools will receive RM250 million.

The government will also spend RM213 million to hire 375 native-speaking teachers from the United Kingdom and Australia to improve the standard of English locally, and streamline the standard curriculum of primary schools.

As for preschools, the government will hire 800 preschool graduate teachers and start around 1,700 new classes by the end of next year.

In higher education, the number of academics with PhD will be increased to 75 per cent in research universities and 60 per cent in other public universities with an allocation of RM20 million.

Other measures include creating promotion opportunities for lecturers in public universities and intensifying vocational training.

A corporation called Talent Corp will be set up under the Prime Minister's Department early next year to increase the number of talented and quality workforce in the domestic market, Najib said.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Khaled Nordin said the budget focused on research and development which would encourage academics to compete globally.

Postgraduate Studies: Communication without borders (NST)

Alina Abdullah explaining her thesis on “Terrorism and Architecture”. With the International Doctoral Education Research Network, postgraduate students are no longer researching a thesis in isolation

Both students and supervisors can now access the International Doctoral Education Research Network for best practices and improvements in methods and technology, writes MICHAEL SUN

INFORMATION and Communications Technology has raised postgraduate research standards throughout the world including Malaysia.

Postgraduate students can no longer blame technology — or the lack of it — for not performing.

Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) deputy vice chancellor for academic and international affairs Professor Datin Paduka Dr Aini Ideris says: “Master’s and doctoral students can no longer forward the excuse (for their inability to complete their theses) that their research had been hampered by limited resources and the unavailability of equipment.

“If (the facility) is not available in Malaysia, we can send the student out or bring in the required professors. Communication is now without borders.” There are new software and websites that enable postgraduates to check whether a particular research has already been conducted.

Similarly, there are tools for research supervisors to verify whether students have committed plagiarism.

But some students and supervisors may not be aware of such cross-checking tools.

The second International Doctoral Education Research Network (IDERN) conference 2010 held recently in Serdang, Selangor, was aimed at raising students’ and supervisors’ awareness of recent advances in doctoral education.

“New technology and networking give students the chance to meet and discuss with their peers abroad who may also be pursuing other areas of study,” says Aini, who is adviser to the IDERN 2010 Organising Committee in Malaysia.

“Essentially, IDERN 2010 tells them that they are no longer researching a thesis in isolation,” she adds.

Born out of the Research Pedagogies Conference held at Canada’s McGill University in Montreal three years ago, IDERN was set up to bring together experts in doctoral education and those who share the vision of broadening the field of research through transnational perspectives.

The network of researchers embarks on studies to improve not only the performances of doctoral students but also the quality of guidance of supervisors, among others.

Building the capacity to influence the future of doctoral education policy and practice globally is central to its agenda.

Although there has been an increase in research into doctoral education over the past decade, much of it has been fragmented and localised.

The network aims to create opportunities for developing and expanding investigations into doctoral education during a period of increased mobility and change.

Aini says that IDERN 2010 was to build on the Montreal meeting.

“The aim of this conference is to share views on research into postgraduate education and promote best practices among members from 30 countries including Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States and some European countries,” says Aini.

Some 20 local public universities and 30 private universities took part in IDERN 2010.

The conference ran separate activities for postgraduate students and supervisors.

Students had the chance to attend sessions on how to produce quality research proposals and received guidelines on how supervisors should monitor them.

“(The role of supervisors is) to assist students to become rounded graduates who are communicative and who possess the desired soft skills, allowing them to easily fit into the job market both locally and internationally.

“We want Malaysian doctoral students to be able to work anywhere in the world with a system and standard that would be on a par with those of other parts of the world,” adds Aini.

“IDERN 2010 is important because supervisors must know how to guide students on how to plan their time and push them to finish on time. If students are not well monitored, they may go astray, dissipate their energies and not complete their doctorate (within the targeted four-year span).” The training provided through conference presentations and seminars is to support the national agenda — MyBrain15.

The acronym is for Malaysia’s targeted plan to produce 60,000 PhD graduates over a span of 15 years starting from 2008.

But would IDERN 2010 address the issue of technological acquisition and export competitiveness of human resources in Malaysia as highlighted by foreign economists? “Definitely, with the research networking now available. Certain universities may be lacking in specific fields but we are also quite advanced in a number of areas,” adds Aini.

“It is important to let the students and supervisors know that new technologies, if not available in Malaysia, may be obtained through networking with foreign universities.

Public universities to have more PhD holders (NST)

KUALA LUMPUR: The government will increase the number of academic staff with Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) qualifications in public institutions of higher learning to enable easier recognition abroad.

Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Dr Hou Kok Chung said the initiative would be a key agenda of the government in view of the education sector's contribution to the socio-economic development of the country.

"Our target is to increase qualified academic staff with doctorates to 75 per cent in research universities, and up to 60 per cent in public institutions by 2015."

Currently, PhD holders make up about 73 per cent of academic staff in research universities, he added.

Hou said implementation would take place gradually in the form of prerequisites requir-ing those applying for lecturers positions to be PhD holders.

He said lecturers would also be provided scholarships and training grants to pursue post-graduate studies.

"We need more PhD holders as lecturers as currently, we have noticed that some fields of study in certain institutions do not have a high teaching capacity," he said after presenting the Tanjong Scholarship Awards to 24 students here.

Hou, who is also MCA deputy secretary-general, said the ministry would also be increasing promotion opportunities for lecturers in public institutions of higher learning.

"This would also include the conferment of 'premier professor' titles to deserving lecturers based on their research studies."

Hou said the distinguished title was currently only conferred on credited lecturers in administrative positions

Discount fee plan for elderly to do PhD courses Read more: Discount fee plan for elderly to do PhD courses (NST)

PUTRAJAYA: The Higher Education Ministry is ready to consider an exemption or a reduction in study fees for citizens over 50 pursuing postgraduate degrees at government universities.

The ministry said the proposal, with terms and conditions attached, would be subject to the cabinet's approval. The decision was in line with the country's aim of producing 60,000 PhD holders by 2023.

Under the 2011 Budget, the ministry will spend RM483.9 million to develop the MyBrain15 programme, which will cover the fees of 7,610 current students and an additional 11,170 postgraduate students in the future.

A sum of RM741 million will be allocated for research and development under the 10th Malaysia Plan for the next two years.

The figure is more than two-fold compared with the allocation under the Ninth Malaysia Plan, which was RM315 million.

An additional RM400 million was allocated for five research universities.

They are Universiti Malaya, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Putra Malaysia and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.

League tables: The case against rankings (NST)


UNIVERSITI Sains Malaysia vice chancellor Tan Sri Professor Dzulkifli Abdul Razak

Results of recent league tables have sparked up another round of discussions on the relative merits of global university rankings exercises, writes SUZIEANA UDA NAGU

UNIVERSITI Sains Malaysia vice chancellor Tan Sri Professor Dzulkifli Abdul Razak did not wait with bated breath for the outcomes of the QS World University Rankings 2010 and Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2010-11 which were announced recently.

The QS and THE lists were released a week apart from one another and Malaysian institutions were nowhere on the Top 200 spots of both.

Dzulkifli does not know what the fuss is all about. As far as he is concerned, the results of both league tables were, at best, predictable.

“It is a new ranking system but that is old hat,” he adds, referring to the revised THE league tables.

THE severed ties with rankings data supplier QS last year and announced its plans to work with research-metrics company Thomson Reuters on revamping its league tables in response to criticisms.

It was slammed in the past for “being based on questionable data and flawed methodology”. The most criticised component of the rankings was “peer review”, which accounted for 40 per cent of the overall score, because only 3,500 researchers had responded.

With a new partner, THE promises that its seventh league table will be different — with clearer and more transparent performance indicators and data.

“Changing partners does not guarantee any significant transformation. Bear in mind that THE-QS had parted ways before (the final separation). I see the change as a business decision based on profitability and commercial interest.

As it turns out the ‘new’ ways are apparently no better than the old ones, given the criticisms levelled at them,” says Dzulkifli.

As educator Koh Soo Ling puts it in her article Why bother?: “Now that the euphoria or the disappointment has somewhat settled, questions remain about the relevance of global rankings” (see H5).

Judging by USM’s non-participation in world rankings exercises as from this year, THE’s recent list is of no consequence.

Dzulkifli says that the university did not receive any invitation from THE to participate in the exercise.

“Even if they were to approach us, we would not be keen — that is our official stand. QS had insisted on ranking us even though we have repeatedly stated our lack of interest in the exercise. That alone makes it suspect,” he says.

Although University College London is placed 22nd on THE’s list, vice chancellor Malcolm Grant describes the activity as “nonsensical” because the application of new metrics and weightings still falls “miles short of capturing the variety, dynamism and diversity of the modern university”, writes Grant in a recent article University world rankings are pointless, UCL president says in The Guardian (

But THE World University Rankings editor Phil Baty is certain that when universities which have declined to take part see the results and examine the methodology in detail, “they’ll opt in next year”.

Dzulkifli remains sceptical of such schemes.

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating! Until we see the results we cannot be convinced,” he says.

University of Malaya (UM), which also opted out of the exercise this year, will continue to do so until THE responds to its questions.

UM vice chancellor Professor Datuk Ghauth Jasmon says: “We declined because THE did not respond to our questions.”

Although UM concedes that THE’s individual performance indicators combined under five categories — Teaching, Research, Citations and International Mix — “are better”, it disagrees with the “Industry income” component.

Industry income uses data on university earnings from research and knowledge transfer activities.

“This would put universities from poorer countries at an immediate disadvantage,” adds Ghauth.

UM sees the merits of rankings exercises.

“QS World University Rankings have pointed out some (of our) weaknesses and motivated us to review our work culture and aim for better Key Performance Indicators (KPI),” he says.

The formation of the Secretariat for Ranking and Improving Performance at the university two years ago reflects its commitment to “competing globally and to doing well in (rankings exercises)”.

“The unit is responsible for advising me on areas that I need to focus on and address. It also monitors all academic staff performance in terms of ISI journal publications, Citations received and the H-index. This will allow us to benchmark against top universities globally,” he adds.

Ghauth is understandably disappointed that UM was not on the QS top 200 list — it slipped to the 207th spot from 180th last year — despite rigorous efforts to improve its performance.

“We are still studying the cause. However, the university’s management is much happier now in terms of Quality Research and Impact journal publications because there have been marked improvements in this regard in the last two years,” he adds.

Professor A Murad Merican, a strong critic of rankings exercises, cautions local tertiary institutions against missing the big picture and succumbing to being captive minds.

“Mental captivity is characterised by a way of thinking that is imitative and uncritical. The captive mind assumes that the THE list is the ultimate measure of what universities do,” says Murad, who is from Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS’ Management and Humanities Department (see H3).
Dzulkifli agrees.

“We have different aspirations and must find appropriate ways to express these.

It is a mistake to have a one-size-fits-all rankings system as far as universities are concerned. It is, at best, pseudo-science.”

Against this backdrop of discussions on the relevance of league tables, USM is working on an Alternative University Appraisal (AUA) approach that will be embedded into its current evaluation method “as part of a developmental process to meet quality standards predicated on equality, availability, affordability, accessibility and sustainability”.

“The AUA calls for a different approach which is more engaging and meaningful,” says Dzulkifli.