KUALA LUMPUR, March 2 — Controversial lecturer Dr Ridhuan Tee Abdullah downplayed the importance of world university rankings today, chiding local learning institutions for trying playing catch-up with a grading that he claimed was “rigged” by the Western world.
The Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA) lecturer expressed his worry that Malaysian graduates of the world’s best universities have instead ended up in the “anti-establishment” camp, in addition to trying to ape “white folks” or Chinese nationals.
“Is it so important to get the world’s best ranking? What is the guarantee that graduates of world’s best university can become the best in their careers, and useful towards religion, race and nation?” Tee asked in his column published by Malay news portal Sinar Harian Online.
“What’s the use if they graduate from the world’s best university, if their hearts are filthy? Disloyal to the country, betraying and leaking the country’s secret to others,” asked Tee.
Tee also warned local universities from being trapped in the Western world’s “education market politics”, where academics have to pay a lot of money to be published in peer-reviewed literature databases such as Scopus and the Institute for Scientific Information.
“We are still in that colonised mind and attitude. The West are adept at playing magic tricks.
“They came up with rankings, then change the criteria from time to time. We are waddling trying to chase them,” Tee said.
Last month, Education Minister II Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh was quoted as saying by national news agency Bernama that Malaysia’s institutions of higher education are on par with those in the United States, Germany and Australia as there are 135,000 foreigners making 10 per cent of all students in local universities and colleges.
The minister also cited Universiti Malaya’s (UM) rise in the 2014 QS World University Rankings, from 167 to 151, as further evidence.
However, Malaysian universities have failed to show on the radar of other more prominent education listings in recent years, including the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2014.
The Academic Ranking of World Universities produced by Shanghai Jiao Tung University also placed UM in the bottom 100 of 400 universities worldwide last year, while UM barely scraped through the top 500 universities in the US News’ Best Global Universities at 423rd place.
In the Ranking Web of Universities compiled by Webometrics produced by a Spanish research group, Universiti Putra Malaysia ranked 420th, followed by Universiti Sains Malaysia at 480th spot, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia at 552nd and UM bottomed out among local universities with its placing at 646th.
Malaysia’s education system has come under much scrutiny in recent years among politicians and employers questioning the standards of its students and graduates, despite the government’s push to turn the country into an education hub.