Saturday, August 19, 2006

What's become of Malaysian universities?

I just bought a new hand phone last evening after work. And it was EXPENSIVE! RM1700 to be exact. A new Sony Ericsson K800i Cybershot. Cool 3G phone with a 3.2 megapixel Sony Cybershot camera that was launched not more than a month ago.

It's downright expensive and practically wiped out my savings for last few months. And I already have a phone. More than a few, actually. But hey, I'm young, work damn hard to earn a commensurate salary and I need to enjoy life, don't I? I've got corporate life and medical insurance, some investments and a little bit saved up for rainy days... what else can I do with my money?

Since I don't gamble, drink or fool around (plump little chinamen tend to get less pussy, for some reason ;p), I buy stuff. Since I started working, I've buying stuff non-stop. Cars and car parts to modify it, laptop computers, handphones, game consoles, games, DVDs, VCDs, CDs, gadgets and other nifty electronic doohickies.

So, if you ask, where's my savings? Well, I don't have any. I've spent it all already.

And what does my lack of savings have to do with the state of Malaysian universities? This brings us neatly into today's topic.

Lots of Malaysian Chinese and Indian parents saved religiously so that they could afford to send their kids to universities overseas, or at least, to private tertiary institutes. Why?... we all know about the quota system and unavailability of certain "strategic" courses to non-bumis... so, I won't rehash all that. Bottom line, is that most non-Malay parents had to save up every penny to send their kids to school.

Well, I didn't save up. And I'm still not saving up. Not because I don't have any kids yet (that's just a technicality because someday, a woman sympathetic or gullible enough to bear the fruit of my loins will walk into my life. But that's another story). No, it was because I thought things would change.

Growing up in the roaring optimism of the 1980s and 1990s, and tempered into adulthood by foolish idealism, I just assumed that non-bumi Malaysians would share the same privileges to local universities like our bumi brothers and sisters by the time I had kids of university-going age. I had dreamt that black children, brown children and yellow children would, over the years, learn to truly share the blessed bounty of our country, and gang up on white children to give them a hard time.

Since Pak Lah came into power, meritocracy has been introduced and thankfully, the govt has not backed down from this commitment, despite the reintroduction of the NEP. Sporadic incidents of un-meritocratic nature have cropped up, but they are being addressed - albeit reluctantly by the bureaucratic dinosaurs from the pre-Badawi era.

However, something else in our universities has elbowed itself into the equation. And that's STANDARDS. The standards of our local universities have dropped so much (or have progressed so little - depending on your viewpoint) that it might NOT be the wisest move to send my future kids there, even if they get into the courses they want.

Kit Siang: Shame, not a single M'sian university is of world standard
Husna Yusop

PETALING JAYA, Friday 18 August, 2006: Malaysia was omitted for the fourth consecutive year in the Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Academic Ranking of World Top 500 Universities.

Parliamentary opposition leader Lim Kit Siang said this shows the quest for academic excellence and university quality in the country has again drawn a blank.

"Not a single Malaysian university was listed in this year's ranking although five more universities from the Asia-Pacific region made into the list compared to last year (2005).

Lim said the 92 universities in the Asia-Pacific included in the list come from Japan (32), Australia (16), China (9), South Korea (9), Israel (7), New Zealand (5), China - Taiwan (5), China - Hongkong (5), India (2) and Singapore (2).

UPM ruckus: Students let off with an "advice"
Pauline Puah

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 18, 2006: The students who caused a ruckus in the Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) canteen on July 17 (2006) will be let off with an "advice".

After a three-week probe into the incident, UPM vice-chancellor Prof Dr Nik Mustafa R. Abdullah said the students would only be adviced not to repeat their behaviour.

"We will call the students and advice them that we have to respect each other. This is the university's responsibility to educate them rather than punishing them," he told a packed press conference in the university today.

seantang's note: See! I told you it'd be no more than a slap on the wrist. This type of 'discipline' is a farce!

High degree of sexual promiscuity and ignorance on campus
Shamini Darshni

KUALA LUMPUR, 18 August 2006: They either have no fear or are ignorant. Either way, Malaysia’s best and brightest are flirting with AIDS and death every day, suggests a survey of private colleges and public universities.

One in two young adults are having sex. Unnerving? Try this. Eighty per cent of them do not use contraceptives. Latest figures show that sexually-active university and college students, between the ages of 18 and 25, do not even think about condoms when they hop into the sack.

These are some of the findings.

• One-third (34 per cent) thought condoms cannot help prevent the spread of HIV

• One-fourth said a person could be infected with HIV through a bite from a mosquito, flea or bed bug

• Sixty per cent thought that a man would be able to tell when a woman has STD

• More than half (53 per cent) said a person with STD would show symptoms.

Many respondents had a basic knowledge about sexual and reproductive health but "this did not translate into the right behaviour".
70% of grads from public institutions jobless
B.Suresh Ram

KUALA LUMPUR, July 3, 2006: Some 70% of public universities and institutes of higher learning graduates in the country are unemployed.

This is in contrast with 26% for private institutions of higher learning and 34% for foreign graduates.

Deputy Human Resources Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Bakar said 20,217 graduates registered with the ministry's Job Clearing System were still unemployed as at June 12.

The breakdown showed UiTM as having the highest number of unemployed graduates with 3,278 (16.2%) followed by UUM 1,532 (7.6%), private institutions of higher learning 1,217 (6%), UTM 1,147(5.7%), UKM 971 (4.8%), UPM 919 (4.5%), other public institutions of higher learning 840 (4.2%), UM 531 (2.6%), USM 505 (2.5%), UMS 371 (1.8%), UIA 358 (1.8%), foreign graduates 342 (1.7%), Unimas 174 (0.9%), UPSI 39 (0.2%) and others 7,993 (39.5%).

He said the ministry had taken several steps, including the establishment of the graduates' retraining training scheme as well as providing feedback to the Higher Education and the Education Ministries, to ensure courses are in line with those required by the job market.
Therefore, kids going to local universities:
- will study in institutions not even classified within the top 500, when 92 other Asian universities got in,
- will encounter bullies whom the faculty are unwilling to discipline (and I'm not even going racial on this point),
- have a 50% chance of being sexually active, where 80% of that activity is unprotected - exposing them to HIV, STDs and pregnancy,
- and at the end of all that (assuming they graduate), have a 70% chance of being jobless!

No comments: