I wish to congratulate University of Malaya (MU in short) for being able to ‘squeeze’ inside the top 200 universities ranking 2009, compiled by Time Higher Education. MU is ranked 180 this year, up from 230 last year. The full list can be viewed here.
MU has been absent from the top 200 list for many years, and the fact that it is able to come back in should be commended.
While a lot more needs to be done, I view this as a good beginning. This is indeed one of the very rare occasions during the past few years that I have seen an improvement in a Malaysian ranking.
Never mind that MU was once among the top universities in the region, comparable to University of Hong Kong and University of Singapore .
While National University of Singapore and University of Hong Kong have consistently been within the top 50, MU has dropped out altogether from the list of the top 200. NUS and HKU are now at 30th and 24th position respectively.
I have a strong feeling for MU, since I was a medical student there for about 2 weeks. I went down to University of Singapore when they offered me an Asean Scholarship. I would have remained in MU had I been given a scholarship then.
I hope politicians should leave the academicians alone and let them run the university along meritocratic principles. There should not be 2 sets of standards and 2 sets of marking systems.
There is nothing like fair competition to bring excellence back to our universities.
Take an example of a hemiplegic patient after a stroke. Initially patient would have difficulty to get up and move on his own. At this stage, we normally would give him a walker to support himself and let him move slowly his own. After some time, when he is much stronger, he should be weaned off the walker and crutches can be given to him. With the help of crutches , he would slowly regain his walking ability and slowly, with the help of physiotherapy, he can often regain 80% of his mobility and wean off the crutches.
Those stroke patients who refuse to exercise and refused to be weaned off the crutches cannot hope to get the same mobility of the group that exercises and wean off clutches.
Like stroke patients, help can and should be given to weaker students in the form of extra classes, extra tutorials, extra homework .These will help the weaker students to get up to the levels of the better students, but once there, they must be encouraged to compete fairly on an equal footing . Only in this way can they become competent graduates in their chosen fields.
What is the point of giving them good marks when at the end of the day, they cannot even perform up to the minimal standard required in their chosen fields?
I think the ‘crutch’ syndrome is the Achilles heel of the country. If this crutch mentality is not dismantled, through the dismantling of the skewed NEP and all the skewed policies under the program, then it is difficult to bring back excellence in all our fields..