The Tempinis diaries

March 5, 2009

Wrong Partnership for UM

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — toru @ 2:47 pm

This comment is a little late in coming. But this arrangement with Unisim is, in my view, the wrong kind of partnership for University Malaya. With respect to the staff and students at Unisim, the fact is that Unisim is not a research university like NUS, NTU and SMU. It is not a very strategic move for UM, the premier research university in Malaysia, to be collaborating with Unisim. Perhaps, in future University of Malaya will try to form meaningful research collaborations with NUS, NTU or SMU.

Sunday February 8, 2009
Pact signed

Dr Ghauth (third from left) exchanging documents with Prof Cheong. Also present are (from left) UM’s Dr Mohamad Mokhtar Abu Hassan, Deputy Director, Academy of Malay Studies, Prof Dr Azirah Hashim, Dean, Faculty of Languages and Linguistics, and UniSim’s Provost Prof Tsu Kai Chong and Registrar Assoc Prof Yip Woon Kong.

UNIVERSITI Malaya (UM) has agreed to collaborate in advisory and training services with the Singapore Institute of Management University (UniSIM) for the latter’s Bachelor degree in Malay Language and Literature.

March 2, 2009

50 laggard lecturers get show-cause letters

Filed under: education — Tags: , — toru @ 1:46 pm

Again well done VC Jasmon! It is time someone cracked the whip. If an employee doesn’t perform in the private sector, the employee will have to leave their job. There is no reason why lecturers who do not perform, in this case get their PhD in a timely manner, should get to stay on in their jobs.

50 laggard lecturers get show-cause letters

PETALING JAYA: About 50 show-cause letters have been sent to Universiti Malaya (UM) lecturers who have not been able to complete their PhDs within the stipulated time in their contract while 15 letters of demand were sent to those who could not explain when they would complete theirs.

December 15, 2008

Thinking out of the Box: Fund Raising for University of Malaya

Filed under: education, malaysia — Tags: , , , , — toru @ 2:35 pm

The new Vice Chancellor, Ghauth Jasmon has an unenviable task of taking over as the head of University of Malaya. His job is made more difficult by the fact that University of Malaya was not chosen by the Malaysian government as an apex university. In the exercise of choosing the apex university, UM was pipped by USM. The apex university status is especially crucial because it comes with extra funding. In this era, lack of funding usually spells disaster for an institute of higher education as the institution cannot afford to recruit the best and brightest staff and also foot the costs of labs and cutting edge research.

So is this the death knell of UM as the premier institution in Malaysia? It does seem so. Without the extra funding, it is inevitable that USM will overtake UM. The Vice Chancellor, Ghauth Jasmon needs to do something really drastic to turn things around.

One idea is to think out of the box. If the government will not fund UM adequately, Ghauth Jasmon should think of going to the alumni to raise funds. Of course, you can’t start asking alumni for money out of the blue. UM should begin by building a competent alumni office headed by someone with good contacts. Efforts of reconnecting with alumni must be made. An attractive and credible alumni magazine needs to be published; class reunions should be held. The alumni office should then approach the alumni members for donations. Alumni especially older ones are usually generous during class reunions when they recall the good old days. I am sure that many UM alumni would donate generously to their alma mater if the rallying cry for the donation is to keep UM as the premier institution in the country. Judging from the experience of the Singaporean universities like Nanyang and NUS, the task of fund raising is difficult but not impossible. Perhaps, ‘a rombongan sambil belajar’ across the causeway should be made soon?

In Asia, American-Style Fund Raising Takes Off The Chronicle of Higher Education December 5, 2008 Friday

Copyright 2008 The Chronicle of Higher Education
All Rights Reserved
The Chronicle of Higher Education

December 5, 2008 Friday


LENGTH: 2003 words

HEADLINE: In Asia, American-Style Fund Raising Takes Off


DATELINE: Singapore


Until last month, the development office at Nanyang Technical University was hidden away in a forgotten part of the sprawling Singaporean campus. The building was dated and the air-conditioning was cranky — a description that could also have summed up the university’s fund-raising efforts and its alumni.

Marina Tan Harper, director of the university’s brand-new development office, toiled in obscurity with her tiny staff. Few understood what the American fund raiser had been hired to do. Even fewer thought raising money from alumni made any sense. After all, in 2005, the year Ms. Harper was hired, just 143 out of 90,000 alumni had made contributions to their alma mater.

“Singapore is very first world, but the funding for universities is very third world,” says Ms. Harper, referring to the reliance on the government to finance higher education. “Literally, the concepts have to be taught.”

Teaching alumni why they need to give — and making giving easy to do — is what Ms. Harper set out to accomplish. And last year more than 4,000 graduates opened their checkbooks, helping the university raise $27-million, largely for its endowment. No one is asking what a development office does anymore.

This month the director, who used to run the development office at Northern Kentucky University, moved her staff of 21 out of their old digs and into the newest building on the campus. Today they sit at brand new desks working shiny new phones. Here at the heart of the campus, the air-conditioning never breaks down, and it is always a perfect 69.8 degrees.

Nanyang is just one of dozens of Asian universities adopting American-style fund raising. The institutions are opening development offices, hiring professional fund raisers, investing in slick billion-dollar campaigns, and trotting out their presidents to pass the hat, tactics unknown here a decade ago.

November 28, 2008

To the Incoming VC of University of Malaya – Ghauth Jasmon

Filed under: education, malaysia — Tags: , — toru @ 2:04 pm

Although I feel that it is premature for Rafiah Salim to be removed as the Vice Chancellor of University of Malaya, politicians (and I include opposition politicians too) should just stay out of the day to day running of University of Malaya. Ghauth Jasmon, unless he performs disastrously, should be given six years to lead University of Malaya. A succession of VCs will only lead to gimmicky and superficial changes.

Jasmon’s task is especially difficult since UM will not be given extra funding like USM because the latter has been named as an apex university. My wish list for Jasmon would be:

(a) continue Rafiah’s policy of requiring all lecturers to publish at least two articles a year in international journals;
(b) sign international student exchange programmes with reputable universities worldwide. In particular, UM could try to forge collaborations with Middle Eastern universities and offer its graduates a gateway into booming cities like Dubai, Abu Dhabi etc;
(c) jointly appoint to faculty positions outstanding Malaysian born academics based abroad like Danny Quah from LSE etc;
(d) forge collaborations and make visiting and joint appointments with faculty members from Singaporean universities. Singapore is just across the causeway and it is time to put aside national pride and learn from our neighbours;
(e) recruit the best staff and students within the confines of the quota system (an oxymoronic suggestion, I know – but I live in hope); and
(f) strengthen alumni connections and leverage on alumni for fundraising purposes. A campaign like “Let’s Keep UM the number one university in Malaysia” could possibly move the alumni to donating to the university.

September 14, 2008

Varsity hit by complacency

Filed under: education, malaysia — Tags: , , — toru @ 10:01 am

Another side of UM. This ties in with my earlier post on the importance of soft factors.  It seems such soft factors are important not just to attract global talent but also for the morale of the students as well.


Friday September 12, 2008
Varsity hit by complacency
I AM a student currently residing in Univer­siti Malaysia and would like to share what I believe is in the heart of many UM students. When the results of the apex university were announced, most of us were not surprised that Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) had bettered UM.

We believe that UM is still resting on its old laurels of glory and therefore has become complacent, not wanting to improve or develop itself. Residential colleges and faculties are settling for second best in aspects like infrastructure, quality of academic staff, etc.

The motto “Producing leaders since 1905” only holds true because we were the only university around at that time.

Firstly, despite being in the heart of KL, water supply is still inconsistent. Residential colleges 3rd, 4th and 7th have been suffering from severe water cuts as pipe repairs have not been carried out effectively.


July 15, 2008

Melbourne University reappoints Glyn Davis as VC

Filed under: education, malaysia, politics — Tags: , — toru @ 12:47 pm

It seems that the Higher Education Minister has not decided on whether to extend Rafiah Salim’s contract as the Vice Chancellor of University of Malaya.  More worrying is the fact that the Ministry does not seem to know how to conduct a proper Vice-Chancellor search committee. I have consistently maintained that in order for there to be some continuity, Rafiah Salim should be extended for at least one more term.    See the story below where the Vice Chancellor of Melbourne University has been appointed for 10 years.  A revolving door involving a string of Vice Chancellors is not healthy for an institution of higher learning.


Melbourne University reappoints Glyn Davis as VC

Andrew Trounson

IN what is a restatement of its confidence in the new “Melbourne model” of offering professional graduate degrees, the University of Melbourne has reappointed its vice-chancellor Glyn Davis to another five-year term.

The appointment, which could keep Professor Davis at Melbourne until the start of 2015, will also scrap any lingering rumours that he could be tempted to Canberra by close friend and fellow Queenslander, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.


June 9, 2008

Reviewing Khaled Nordin’s Higher Education Plan

Filed under: education, malaysia — Tags: , , , — toru @ 1:24 pm

Star’s interview with Khaled Nordin (see below) is a pretty depressing read. There doesn’t seem to be any substantive changes that Khaled Nordin, the Minister of Higher Education, intends to implement. There’s also mention of the half baked Setara exercise filled with UKM professors. As I have written before, the whole assessment exercise is a complete embarrassment. That’s bad news. If Malaysian tertiary institutions are to compete globally, nothing short than a radical overhaul is required. To give him credit, there are some positive moves mentioned below, namely, the improvement of accommodation for foreign students. These soft factors are crucial in attracting global talent.

Currently, the main pre-occupation of the Ministry seems to be this process of identifying apex universities. Now the identification of the so-called apex universities is not a panacea to all the ills in higher education in Malaysia. Realistically, only three universities in the country have the potential to compete globally i.e. UM, UKM and USM. Khaled Nordin does not make it clear what kind of support would be given to an apex university. Will they dismantle the quota system for at least one of the apex universities? As I have written before, what is really killing the universities in Malaysia is the quota system. The solution to improving universities is quite simple really. But is there the political will to do so? It is far better to have one decent university which operates on merit rather than have more than a dozen lousy ones filled with unqualified candidates who got in through the quota system.


Sunday June 8, 2008

Doing it his way, with team support

BELOW are extracts from StarEducation’s interview with Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin.

Since his appointment on March 27, Khaled has been making the rounds of university campuses. At a briefing on UKM’s strategic plan at its campus in Bangi, Selangor, in April, he speaks to VC Prof Datuk Dr Sharifah Hapsah Syed Hasan Shahabudin.

Q: What do you see as the top priorities and challenges in higher education?

A: The Higher Education Ministry (MOHE) is translating the national mission and the Ninth Malaysian Plan into an actionable National Higher Education Strategic Plan, to develop first-class human capital.

My predecessor (Datuk Mustapa Mohamed) has done a good job in identifying the strengths and weaknesses in order to bring about change. My task now is to engineer the change, and implement what has been planned to ensure that we achieve the targets.

The higher education sector has evolved to meet global challenges.

We are moving in the right direction.

I now have a clearer picture of what is happening and should be done.

I would also like to see the universities in the country move up in the world rankings. By 2020, we hope that our universities can be

The amendments to the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 are expected to be tabled in Parliament in August. On May 29, Khaled (right) and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak (second, right) received a memorandum on the amendments from USM Student Representative Council president Muhammad Syukri Ibrahim (left) and his counterpart from UM, Afandy Sutrisno Tanjung.

ranked among the Top 50 worldwide.


May 26, 2008

The Half Baked Research Assessment Exercise

Filed under: education, malaysia — Tags: , , , — toru @ 2:04 pm

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


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.

Mohamed Khaled (fourth from left) holding up a copy of the Setara 2007 report .Looking on are his deputies Datuk Idris Haron (left), Dr Hou Kok Ching (right) and other Setara committee members.

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.


May 20, 2008

Why Rafiah Salim Should Stay

Kian Ming has a post in Education Malaysia re-iterating their (Tony and Kian Ming’s) position that Rafiah Salim should be removed as the VC of University of Malaya. I believe that this is a such a wrong and populist position that I feel compelled to reply.

First, Rafiah Salim has been reported to be implementing many sensible moves in improving the university. These steps include (a) making annual publications in two peer-reviewed journals a key performance index for lecturers; (b) consulting external dons in matters of promotion; and (c) the signing of student exchange agreements. Rome was not build overnight. Tony Pua is being completely unfair to blame Rafiah Salim for the continued decline of University of Malaya’s ranking. Rather than taking a knee-jerk reaction (e.g. recruiting graduate students from the Middle East to improve the foreign student ratio), Rafiah Salim seems to have the courage and wisdom of taking the bull by the horns in the unheadline grabbing task of trying to promote a research culture in the university.

Second, Khaled “Save Sufiah Yusof” Nordin’s move of extending Rafiah Salim’s contract by only six months puts her and the university in an invidious position. This effectively creates a ‘lame duck’ Vice Chancellor. Matters are on hold. Nothing will get done. See story below from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Third, Kian Ming’s gripe against Rafiah Salim’s qualifications is again unfair. It is true that she does not (save for an Honorary PhD) have a PhD. But you have to consider what discipline she is in and what generation she is from. Rafiah Salim is a lawyer and many lawyers in her generation even in Oxbridge do not have PhDs. In fact, in many US Law Schools where law is a postgraduate degree – PhDs are not a pre-requisite for faculty members. I am sure Kian Ming will agree with me that a PhD is not evidence of leadership abilities. I have met enough dumb people with PhDs to last me a life time. While a PhD is an absolute must for new faculty hires especially in science and the social sciences, Rafiah Salim should not be faulted for not having a PhD. As the Vice Chancellor she is an administrator whose most important quality is leadership ability. Thus far, I think she has shown remarkable leadership abilities. Also, Kian Ming’s comparison with the Harvard President is totally unwarranted. University of Malaya is not Harvard and will never be Harvard. To benchmark University of Malaya to Harvard is just so wrongheaded I do not even know where to begin.


May 11, 2008

University of Malaya Watch: Another Positive Move

Filed under: education, malaysia — Tags: , , , — toru @ 12:47 pm

Another positive move. Student exchanges can only improve the quality of Malaysian students. Kudos to Hou Kok Chung and Rafiah Salim.

IPTs Told To Carry Out Student Exchange With Varsities Abroad

KUALA LUMPUR, May 9 (Bernama) — The Higher Education Ministry has called on the local institutions of higher learning to carry out student exchange with universities abroad.

Its deputy minister Datuk Dr Hou Kok Chung said this was important to internationalise their students and expose them to different kinds of learning and experience abroad.

“In this respect, the ministry will continue to support any initiatives to forge ties with universities abroad,” he told reporters after attending a student exchange programme organised by the University of Malaya’s Malay Studies Academy.

Under the programme, a total of 45 students would be sent to China’s Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) for six weeks starting May 15.

The programme was to reciprocate the sending of 22 students by BFSU to attend lectures at the Malay Studies Academy for one semester last year.

Meanwhile, University of Malaya Vice-Chancellor Datuk Rafiah Salim said the initiative was among measures taken by the university to widen the knowledge among the students.

“We want our students to have a unique learning experience,” she said, adding that the university was hoping to sent 1,000 students to universities abroad within the next three years.

In a related development, 15 engineering students of the university would depart for South Korea tomorrow for a 10-week exchange programme.


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