On further research and reflection, I am coming round to the view that the conferral of apex status on USM over UM is a mistake. I did an ISI Web of Knowledge search this morning using the all databases section. This database search includes the highly respected Web of Science database which contains high impact scientific journals. Here are my findings when I typed in the following terms under the “address” field:
1. “University of Malaya” – results – 1,679 hits
2. “Malaya” – results – 7,076 hits
3. “University Sains Malaysia” – results – 160 hits
4. “sains malaysia” – results – 4,010 hits
5. “science malaysia” – results – 1 hit
6. “National University of Singapore” – results – 10,278 hits
7. “Singapore” – results – 79,679 hits
8. “Nanyang Technological University” – results – 1,586 hits
9. “Nanyang” – 20,032
Based on this very simple and primitive search, my impression is that USM is currently very far behind UM in terms of international reputation and publication record. In academia, the crude maxim of “publish or perish” still rings true. A university’s rankings and reputation is only as good as its publications and research. Based on the figures, USM still has a long way from catching up with UM, let alone placing in the top 100 universities in five years time.
I should add a qualification that I could be wrong, of course. If USM’s “hits” were more recent than UM, then this could indicate an up and coming institution (USM) as compared to one resting on its laurels (UM).
Now the interesting question is whether Khaled Nordin and his Ministry of Higher Education do a proper analysis of these figures before conferring apex status to USM?