Whoever came up with this Setara nonsense does not understand universities at all (see story below). There are so many things wrong with this entire thing that it seems like an exercise in futility. First, the academics on the panel are all from UKM. Now apart from questions of impartiality, UKM is not exactly a world-class university (to put it mildly). Why then get UKM professors to judge other universities in Malaysia? This really boggles the mind! And isn’t it ironic that the article is called “A Balanced View”? The members of the panel certainly are not balanced since they are all from UKM. Second, not all the academics on the panel are full professors. Are we so short of full professors that we cannot convene a panel with full professors? Third, there does not seem to be any repercussions in being ranked highly or lowly in this exercise. What then is the point of it all? It is just a case of ‘syok sendiri’.
I would propose that the following steps be taken in future exercises: (1) Appoint a completely foreign advisory board comprising of distinguished academics. This will ensure impartiality and also a valuable outsider perspective. The members of the panel can come from reputable universities in this region like NUS, NTU, Melbourne, Sydney, Beida, Fudan, Seoul National, Tokyo University or HKU. (2) Make funding and (possibly) fees correspond with ranking. Universities which are ranked higher should have a more generous funding from the government and possibly charge higher fees. Also, this should translate to the pay of the lecturers as well. Lecturers at higher ranked universities should be paid more. (3) The panel should also make specific recommendations on how Malaysian universities can be improved.
As it stands, this Setara is a complete waste of time and taxpayers’ money where a bunch of UKM academics are given a ‘rombongan sambil belajar’ to various countries. I understand that Setara might be the work of the former Minister for Higher Education. However, in future the Higher Education Ministers (Khaled Nordin, Hou Kok Chung and Idris Haron) should demonstrate that they take this portfolio seriously and display leadership and professionalism in conducting a more meaningful exercise.
Sunday May 25, 2008
A balanced view
By SIMRIT KAUR
The rating system announced recently provides the first objective snapshot of where Malaysian universities stand in relation to each other.
WE now know where Malaysian universities stand, following the release of the Rating System for Malaysian Higher Education Institutions (Setara) 2007.
Setara provided a contrast to last year’s Academic Reputation Survey (Ares). Universiti Malaya (UM) got the highest marks under Setara, whlle Universiti Sains Malaysia scored the most marks under Ares.