Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Denial Syndrome

Based on the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) rankings for 2006, the once Malaysia's premier university, University of Malaya, fell to the 192nd spot from the 89th ranking it received in 2004.

UM vice-chancellor Rafiah Salim refuses to acknowledge that the quality at UM has dropped. She said that no one should base such findings solely on one survey. Funny, yet she was glad to note that UM had made it to the 13th spot among the top universities in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

"It is the first time they have come up with such rankings and the top 10 positions were taken up by Turkish universities. It is an honour that UM is in the 13th position while Universiti Sains Malaysia is at the 29th spot," she said.

When Rafiah first took over the top position at the university, many of the ex-UMers had hoped that she can provide a new direction and vigour to the university. Unfortunately, she did none of the two.

What she did here is rubbishing a ranking survey but embracing the other one. What good is the university going to get out of such an attitude? Nothing. Rafiah is in a thick sense of denial. Maybe she has run out of ideas.

If she insists that UM is still at its prime, we would like to know how many original studies that the university has published? She mentioned that many academicians are interested to come to the university as visiting professors.

What is more important is the output of the university, and not how many events the university is asked to organise, how many visiting professors are coming its way?

When is the university planning to produce a Nobel prize winner? How many of its students went on to become acclaimed entrepreneurs, inventors, scientists, designers, architects etc.? How many top foreign students are knocking on its door?

If the university is at its prime, why are Malaysians would still jump at a chance to study in Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard?

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