PUTRAJAYA: The Government has set a new target of producing 60,000 Malaysian PhD holders by 2020 under the “MyBrain15” initiative.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said the new figure was more reasonable compared to the previous goal of 100,000 under the National Higher Education Strategic Plan launched last year.
“In order for the country to be competitive, we need a critical mass of researchers. The current number of 8,000 PhD holders is insufficient to drive innovation and promote economic growth,” he told reporters here yesterday after the launch of MyBrain15.
Khaled said Malaysia needed a pool of highly-skilled and productive people, particularly PhD holders.
To ensure adequate supply, the Government would also be setting up a special fund to sponsor 400 bright students to further their studies from undergraduate to postgraduate level.
“These students will act as a feeder to ensure the success of the MyBrain15 initiative,” he said.
Currently, the Government is sponsoring 3,914 students at PhD level. Of this number, 39.4% are pursuing their studies locally, 30.1% in Britain and the rest in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the United States.
Khaled said that for MyBrain15 to succeed, government agencies, including public universities, would need to reduce bureaucracy to attract top Malaysian and foreign brains.
“Public universities must put more emphasis on research and development (R&D),” said Khaled, adding that all universities would have to set clear targets on commercialisation of R&D as well as the number of patents achieved.
He also said that the ministry was looking at other methods of acquiring PhDs, including industry-based applied research.
Khaled also called on higher education institutions to focus on indigenous-based research and development in areas such as biotechnology and tropical medicine.
On the purported misbehaviour of some foreign students, in particular Africans, Khaled said that action would be taken against anyone who broke the law.
“We welcome foreign students but they must abide by our laws. Whatever cases that have been reported are isolated as the majority of foreigners are law abiding,” he said.