Monday, May 23, 2011

Malaysian universities improve ranking on Asian scale - The Malaysian Insider

By Boo Su-Lyn May 23, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, May 23 — Six out of seven Malaysian universities improved their ranking on the QS Asian University Rankings this year, with Universiti Malaya (UM) climbing three spots to 39th.

Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) also jumped 20 slots to 57th out of 200 Asian universities.

No Malaysian university entered the top 10 ranks while the National University of Singapore (NUS) retained its third place.

QS also said in a statement the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST) knocked the University of Hong Kong down to the second spot.

The global higher education information specialist noted that Malaysia had seven universities in the top 200 Asian universities compared to Thailand’s nine and Indonesia’s eight.

Japan was the best-represented nation with five universities in the top 10 ranks and 57 in the top 200.

In contrast, China had 40, South Korea 35, Taiwan 16, India 11, and Hong Kong had seven universities in the top 200 Asian institutions.

The QS Asian University Rankings last year showed that the top Malaysian university was UM at the 42nd spot while Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) was the second best university here at 58th.

The ranking of public institutions in Malaysia has dived throughout the past years to the point of dropping out of the top 200 universities in the QS World University Rankings last year.

QS noted that the “dynamism” of the Asian region was bolstered by the fact that one out of five universities in the top 50 universities was less than 50 years old.

The rankings were based on the following factors: academic peer review (30 per cent), recruiter review (10 per cent), student/ faculty ratio (20 per cent), papers per faculty (15 per cent), citations per paper (15 per cent), and 2.5 per cent each for international faculty review, international student review, and inbound and outbound student exchanges.

UM vice-chancellor Dr Ghauth Jasmon had reportedly urged Malaysia’s oldest university last year to take world rankings seriously if it wanted to remain globally competitive.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Some Chinese don’t speak Bahasa at all - The Malaysian Insider

By Sheridan Mahavera May 14, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, May 14 — A The Malaysian Insider street poll of 107 Chinese adults has found that 28 of them, or 26.1 per cent of those surveyed, had almost no command or could not understand Bahasa Malaysia.

Of the 75 respondents who understood BM and took the survey, 16, or 21 per cent of them felt that knowing or using the national language was not as important in their lives as knowing Mandarin or other Chinese dialects.

About 37 per cent of those who took the survey (or 28 respondents) used BM less than five times a day. While 20 of them said they either did not have to use it all or only used it less than three times.

The results suggest that within the Chinese community, there is a significant class whose members only interact with those who speak Chinese.

Recently, a separate national study by a well-known teachers’ association showed that one in every three Chinese primary school pupil cannot understand BM or English when they prepare to enter national secondary school.

The school survey by the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) also found that one in every four Chinese child who enters national secondary school will drop out.

This has led to claims that the dropout rate and the low level of BM proficiency have created a group of Chinese adults who only interact with other Chinese, creating a barrier for greater inter-ethnic integration in plural Malaysia.

In another The Malaysian Insider article on the NUTP survey, educators, parents and former Chinese school students argued that it is not the vernacular education system that is at fault.

Family attitudes, the Chinese community and individual choice are bigger influences on how much BM Chinese children pick up, retain and use once they leave school and enter adulthood.
The street poll is a follow-up to both the NUTP survey and the contention that it’s not really the vernacular school system’s fault. The poll is to gauge how the Chinese community regards BM.

If the vernacular education is not at fault, are parents and the community creating an environment where Chinese kids feel that they can get by without knowing the national language?


The entire survey was conducted in Bahasa Malaysia among 107 Chinese individuals. They were asked four questions.

1) Do you understand BM?

2) How important is BM in your life?

3) Which is more important in your life, BM or English?

4) On a typical day, how many times do you use BM?

— Less than three times.

— Less than five times.

— Five times and more.

— More than 10 times.

(This includes occasions such as talking multiple times to one person or talking to multiple people.)

Those who were judged as not being able to “understand BM” were individuals who could not reply to the interview questions. They rejected the survey by gesturing silently when asked “if they could speak BM”.

This group differs from another group of four who understood but declined the survey as they said in BM that “they were busy”.

The survey was conducted in Sepang district, an evenly diverse part of suburban southern Selangor, and in the Chinese enclave of Jinjang Utara in Kuala Lumpur.

Part 2 economic success = social fragmentation

The dominance of Chinese in certain areas of the private sector explains why some in the community feel that BM is not necessary to get by.

The majority 68 per cent in the poll who found BM important were either shopkeepers, salespeople or those working in large corporations where they interacted with non-Chinese individuals on a daily basis.

This group also represents the 62 per cent who used BM more than five times a day. Sixteen per cent used it more than 10 times a day.

Many of those who found BM less important and who used it less than five times a day worked in technical fields such as small engine repair or small-scale construction.

Michael Tay, who works in the property industry, says there is a belief that because you could still get a job just by speaking Chinese, there is no motivation to learn other languages.

“They feel comfortable mixing with people from a similar culture and language, and they don’t have to depend on non-Chinese to survive. But this is not good for integration,” says Tay, a Bandar Baru Tampoi MCA branch leader in Johor Baru.

A majority of the 28 who could not speak the national language were in their 50s and older. Some of the BM speakers said this was a trend with the Merdeka generation who did not enter the formal education system.

But of the 28, 10 of them were individuals aged 40 and below. About five of them were young adults who worked in mobile phone shops and who politely declined and deferred to their friends when asked in BM.

According to their friends, these individuals had trouble understanding BM because they “dropped out of school”.

Part 3 Malaysia: A bowl or pot?

Low BM usage does not translate into feeling it is less important. For instance, a handful of Chinese shopkeepers who catered to a mainly Chinese clientele felt that BM was important. This is even though they said their command and use of it was low.

“Ini Malaysia maa. Semua kena cakap Melayu. Kalau tak cakap Melayu macam mana Melayu, Cina, India mau satu,” said a shopkeeper who sells joss sticks and Chinese prayer items and who said there were days he didn’t use BM at all.

A stationery shop owner refused to believe the survey’s findings that some Chinese could not speak BM.

“Mana ada? Mesti boleh cakap punya. Ini Malaysia maa,” said the 46-year-old. These same sentiments were expressed by 10 of the respondents.

When asked whether BM or English was more important, 33 per cent of respondents said BM while 20 per cent said both languages were important. Twenty-nine per cent chose English over BM, while 17 per cent did not know.

The proportion of those who don’t speak BM versus those who do reveals how the community views integration with the larger non-Chinese environment. But this is not unique just to the Chinese.

Arguably, there are proportions of Malays and Indians who also go days without meeting someone from a different ethnicity.

Historian Prof Tan Sri Khoo Kay Kim believes each ethnic community has evolved this way because they have been taught to think of the group first rather than the nation-state.

“We have always been a people who have lived apart from each other. Even the early Indonesian settlers, the Minangs, Banjars, Javanese lived in separate colonies first. They did not automatically become ‘Malays’.”

Malaysia’s model of integration then, which is more a “salad bowl” than a “melting pot”, makes it hard for individuals to adopt a common culture or language as the priority is always with what the group thinks.

“If you notice, Chinese and Indians are not comfortable at all speaking BM to one another. This is different from the Peranakan Chinese in the past who spoke BM to each other,” observes Khoo.

Though the bright side from survey shows a positive attitude among its Chinese respondents concerning BM, it is harder to gauge how deep their feelings of togetherness with Malaysia and other Malaysians as a whole.

And if the same trends are present in Malaysia’s other communities, it may well be that we are still a nation of separate peoples.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

International Distance Education Conference 2011 - Penang

International Distance Education Conference 2011
Open Distance learning: Achieving Sustainable Development for Bottom Billion
12 - 14 September 2011, Park Royal Hotel, Penang, Malaysia

Malaysia aspires to be a developed nation by 2020. One of the efforts to achieve that status is to have a knowledge-based human capital that will drive and sustain that journey. The paramount need to raise the education level of about 80% of the workforce in Malaysia will place a heavy burden on the country’s existing tertiary education system as places are limited and the competition is stiff. It is thus evident that to ameliorate the problem of transforming the workforce, an alternative education system will have to be provided as the main thrust for the human capital to acquire new and relevant knowledge and skills and at the same time ensuring that they remain in employment. Open and distance learning must be the viable alternative to provide tertiary education to people who either never had the chance or gave up their chance to pursue a university degree.

Universiti Sains Malaysia, through the school of Distance Education (SDE), has helmed distance education programs in Malaysia since 1971 and 2011 marks its 40th year as the main role player to meet the country’s need in providing quality open and distance education for Malaysians. In the last four decades, the distance education institution at USM has grown and matured from a unit attached to the School of Humanities and offering its programmes, to become a centre administrating programmes offered by other schools in USM, to finally taking its place as a full fledge school offering its own degree programmes. No doubt, within this period, the School of Distance Education (SDE) has contributed to the development of the human capital in Malaysia and has helped thousands of students to obtain their bachelors’ degree while opting to continue to remain in full time employment.

As part of its celebration to mark its 40th year, SDE is planning to organise an international conference which will serveas a platform for distance practitioners and educators world-wide to discuss issues related to the development, future and challenges of distance education. This will allow distance educators at SDE as well as counterparts engage in the same ODL business to chart the future course in transforming higher education to meet the challenges of sustainable development as well as to reach out towards the bottom billion.

This effort is also in tandem with the national APEX mission of raising the capacity for knowledge and innovation in order to move the economy up the value chain, to improve the standard and sustainability of the quality of life and to strengthen the institutional and implementation capacity. This is also in line with the vision of the USM Vice Chancellor, the Honourable Prof. Tan Sri Dato’ Dzulkifli Abdul Razak, that the university’s drive is “to re-examine the core foundation of its being, and takes cognition of the need to amalgamate the vital elements of the economy, society and the environment”.

Important Dates

Please take note of the following dates:

May 31, 2011
Deadline of submission of full paper

June 30, 2011
Notification of Acceptance

July 30, 2011
Last day of Registration

September 12 - 14, 2011
Conference Proper


Study links lower education to faster ageing - The Star

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - People who leave education with fewer qualifications are prone to age more quickly, scientists said on Wednesday.

Researchers from Britain and the United States examined the length of sections of DNA known as telomeres from around 450 people taking part in a long-term health study and found that people who did less well at school had shorter telomeres, suggesting they may age faster.

Telomeres are sections of DNA that cap the ends of chromosomes, protecting them from damage and the loss of cell functions associated with ageing. Shorter telomeres are thought to be an indicator of faster ageing.

"The key implication of this study backs up one of the main messages to have come out of long-term studies..that your experiences early in life can have important influences on your health," said Stephen Holgate, of Britain's Medical Research Council, which part-funded the research.

He said that as with all observational research, it was difficult to to establish the root causes of these findings, but said the study provided evidence "that being educated to a higher level can benefit you more than in the job market alone."

The study participants were separated into four education groups: those who had no qualifications at all, those who left formal education after exams at around 16 years of age, those who left after exams at around 18 years, and those who earned a degree from a university or other higher education institution.

The research was published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity on Wednesday.

The results showed that people with lower educational achievements had shorter telomeres, indicating that they may age faster, and the study also offered strong evidence that this is not affected by people's social and economic status later in life, as was previously thought, the researchers said.

"We already know from previous research that people with poor backgrounds are prone to age more quickly," said Andrew Steptoe, a professor of psychology at the British Heart Foundation which part-funded the study.

"Education is a marker of social class that people acquire early in life, and our research suggests that it is long term exposure to the conditions of lower status that promotes accelerated cellular ageing."

(Reporting by Kate Kelland, editing by Paul Casciato)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

KPT Lantik 200 Pasca Doktoral Setahun Hingga 2015 - The Star


BANGI: Kementerian Pengajian Tinggi (KPT) merancang untuk melantik 200 pasca doktoral warga tempatan dan asing untuk membangunkan program penyelidikan dan inovasi di institusi pengajian tinggi awam (IPTA).

Menteri Pengajian Tinggi, Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin berkata, perancangan itu bertujuan demi memenuhi keperluan negara yang dilakukan setiap tahun bagi sehingga 2015.

"IPTA diberi tanggungjawab sepenuhnya untuk melantik mereka. Selepas itu mereka akan ditempatkan di universiti terpilih untuk memulakan aktiviti penyelidikan dan inovasi bukan saja menghasilkan produk tapi suatu proses secara sepenuh masa," katanya pada sidang media selepas merasmikan Majlis Penutup Sambutan Ulang Tahun Ke-40 Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) di sini, Selasa.

Jelas Mohamed Khaled, dalam usaha meningkatkan keupayaan mencipta dan menginovasi produk dan proses baru, pengwujudan inkubator yang dapat menjana industri dan corak perniagaan baru diperkenalkan melalui inisiatif Pelan Pembangunan Modal Insan Inovasi.

"Berdasarkan perancangan hasil segera pelan itu, setiap pasca doktoral yang dilantik akan ditempatkan secara berasingan di lapan inkubator yang diwujudkan iaitu setiap satu di universiti penyelidikan dan tiga lagi dikongsi bersama oleh universiti di zon utara, tengah dan selatan," ujarnya.

Selain berperanan untuk mentransformasikan penyelidikan, beliau berkata, bakat, idea dan kemahiran kumpulan cerdik pandai itu turut digunakan untuk menggerakkan ekonomi negara.

"Bagi membolehkan Malaysia bersaing dengan negara luar, kita memerlukan modal insan yang memiliki ilmu yang tinggi dalam pengkhususan sesuatu bidang. Jadi universiti memerlukan golongan pakar dalam bidang penyelidikan dan inovasi," katanya.

Sementara itu, beliau berkata, tiga universiti iaitu UKM, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) dan Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) dipilih untuk menjalani penilaian projek rintis audit autonomi bermula pertengahan tahun lalu.

Katanya, autonomi akan diberikan atas keyakinan kerajaan terhadap keupayaan dan tanggungjawab universiti terbabit dalam urusan pentadbiran selari dengan amalan universiti ternama untuk menggalakkan kecemerlangan akademik.

"Setakat ini, UKM antara kumpulan pertama yang dinilai dan laporan penilaian telah dihantar kepada KPT untuk pertimbangan selanjutnya.

"Kita akan tengok sama sistem yang kita bangunkan itu boleh diterima dan meninggalkan kesan kepada universiti terbabit. Selepas itu, barulah kita akan umumkan universiti yang terpilih untuk menerima anugerah itu," jelasnya.