(Penang, Monday: A
local press yesterday reported that the University of Nottingham in the United
Kingdom has appointed a foreigner as chancellor, picking Professor
Fujia Yang, who was former president of Fudan University of Shanghai, to
take up the post.
nuclear physicist who graduated in physics from Fudan University in 1958, Prof
Yang has enjoyed a distinguished academic career both in China and
internationally, including a visiting professorship at the Neils Bohr Institute
in Copenhagen and at several other universities in the US and Japan.
thought that would have occurred to Malaysians reading this report is to
wonder when one of the public universities in Malaysia would be able to open the
post of Vice Chancellor to the best, brightest and most qualified applicants in
the international academic world to underline the nationís commitment and
seriousness to transform itself
into an international centre of educational excellence.
the date when Malaysia could
appoint a foreigner as an university Vice
Chancellor is very distant as the
country has not appointed a single
non-Malay as a Vice Chancellor in
anyone of the eleven public universities for the past three decades.
calls on the government to urgently initiate a programme to reinstate merit as
the most important criteria for all academic appointments and promotions,
including appointment of non-Malay vice chancellors, to demonstrate its
commitment and seriousness to
establish Malaysia as an international centre of academic excellence.
must urgently address and resolve numerous
problems in higher education if we
are not to be left behind by the challenges of
globalisation, knowledge-economy and information society.
Malaysia is woefully behind developed countries in the development of our higher
education resources with only 22
per cent of our school leavers, aged between 17 and 22, able to enter higher
learning institutes as compared to the United States (90%), Britain (60%) and
Australia (60%). Only 5% of our
school leavers enter degree level education, compared to 41% in the US and 39%
Malaysia is unable to provide affordable
quality higher education opportunities to all Malaysians at a time when
the right to tertiary
education must be recognised as one of
the fundamental rights of Malaysians.
the urgent need to inculcate excellence among the Malaysian university students,
particularly Malay students.
Malay students greatly outnumber the non-Malay students in the public
universities, but in 1999, only 96 Malays obtained First Class degrees in the
University of Malaya, compared to 259 non-Malay students.
In the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, seven Malays received First Class
degrees compared to 95 non-Malay students.
government has announced that beginning with the new academic year, a
merit-based system would be introduced for the admission of Malay university
students but this measures seems to be more politically-motivated than
the full details of such a merit-based university admission system have still to
be made public, the government should take the policy decision to bring about a
general uplift in the academic standards and excellence
in the public universities by implementing a plan to restore merit as the
most important criteria for all academic appointments and promotions, including the
selection of University Vice Chancellors - to end the
indefensible double discrimination in
such appointments on
grounds of merit and ethnicity and which will be a quantum leap to
establish Malaysia as an international centre of educational excellence.