One news caught my attention last week (7th of October to be exact), drafted this comment, and just remembered about it a moment ago. Times High Education (THE) magazine revealed its ranking of top 400 universities in the world, and no Malaysian made the cut. I'm fine with our football ranking of 142, and our number one tennis player only between 1050 to 1100 in the world (forgot the exact number), but this is something different. I'm with the opinion that our University Malaya, and lately University Science Malaysia, going by numerous statements by government officials, would at least be in the list. The Thai Mahidol University, which is quite uncommon for me, is somewhere between 351 to 400.
Ironicaly, our neighbouring country, Singapore's National University is at 40, 2nd best among Asian, after University of Hong Kong. And Hong Kong and Singapore has another five and two in the list, respectively. Being involved in preparing Form Six students for university, this is rather disturbing. What with qualifying terms of entrance getting tougher by the years, having at least two in list, even in the last 50 of the 400, would be an achievement.
At top 10, nothing is new, except for the 1st ranked United State of America's California Institute of Technology, ( not even a university by name), which leaves the more familiar compatriots Harvard and Stanford, both at number 2. Oxford of the UK is at fourth.
Being a mere secondary school teacher, I do not think I'm qualified to comment on this, but every citizen of the country has the right to wonder what has been done, or as a matter of fact, what has not been done, to put our 'Menara Gading', (once I came across a student who translate it as Tusk Tower) at such a low place. I've always been very proud of my alma mater, ITM, its achievement in my days, even without the word 'University' then, but not so sure now. Should check where UiTM stands in the local ranking first.
A vice-chancellor of University Malaya mentioned that Malaysian universities need to fork out RM200 million on its Research and Development programs, to be on par with the world's top universities. If that is accepted as an excuse for not making it to the top 400, then I think they should go ahead with it. After all, RM200 million is only a tip of the iceberg in the recent budget proposal.