The Tempinis diaries

December 2, 2007

Dismantling the Quota System in Malaysian Universities

Filed under: education, malaysia — Tags: , , , , , — toru @ 2:21 pm

In my previous post, I blogged about how the quota system (in terms of student admissions and faculty promotions) is hurting the quality of Malaysian universities.  The most obvious solution to improve the standing of Malaysian universities would be to abolish the quota system practiced by the administration at all universities.  But is this even a realistic option?  My own feeling is that it is not.  Any Government Minister who dares to implement this would probably be ousted immediately.

So it there a solution to the current rut that we are stuck in?  Or are Malaysian universities destined to a continued downward slide?  I believe that there is a way out and a compromise solution.  While the Malay dominated electorate may not be able to stomach abolishing the quota system currently in place at all universities, perhaps it is possible to abolish the practice of the quota system at one university.  Let’s say University of Malaya is named an Apex University and is run primarily on merit in terms of student admissions and faculty promotions.   A less aggressive quota system can be put in place, let’s say 10 % in favour of Bumiputras.  Why do I think that this might work?  This is because it is ultimately in the Malays’ self-interest to have at least one internationally respected university in the country than having all universities in the country being at the bottom of the pile internationally.  At least, the Malay graduates and faculty who are from that university will be respected both locally and hopefully, internationally.  To my mind, it is foolish to have 60 % (I am just guessing and I might be way off the mark) of the student body being Malay if the degree conferred is not respected locally and internationally.  This actually harms the top 10 % of the Malays in the cohort because they are pulled down by the bottom 50 %.  Non-performing faculty (whether Malay, Chinese or Indian) members can also be slowly transferred to other universities to get rid of deadwood.

Whether the Ministry of Higher Education is prepared to take any drastic measures to improve the quality of Malaysian universities remain to be seen.  It is quite evident that the state of universities in Malaysia is so dismal that something drastic needs to be done.  I am afraid that merely unveiling snazzy reports with fancy slogans will not do the trick.   



  1. the quota system has since been abolished for a meritocracy system. but even with the meritocracy system in place we don’t see much difference in the admission rate btw races.

    Comment by bobby — December 3, 2007 @ 1:56 am

  2. Bobby – I dont think the quota system has been replaced by meritocracy. There are still two admission tracks to universities – matriculation and stpm. And we know it is very difficult for non-Malays to get into matriculation programmes.

    Comment by tempinis — December 3, 2007 @ 2:43 pm

  3. it would be better for the author to reveal himself or herself, for students to cite them easily for their researches. Thank you.

    Comment by poo — April 13, 2010 @ 9:10 pm

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