KUANTAN: Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP) vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Daing Nasir Ibrahim (pic) has disputed a Harvard economist’s statement that choices of leadership in Malaysian universities are the reason for failure to produce graduates needed to create a high-income economy.
Dr Daing said it was baffling that Prof Dwight H. Perkins singled out the chief executive as a factor in determining the performance of a university.
“According to him, the problem stems from the appointment of university presidents, rectors or vice-chancellors by the Government.
“He does not understand that the chief executives here and in other countries are supported by an administration with integrity and effectiveness.
“The governance in most universities is different but balanced in many dimensions involving the senate, board of directors and committees in supervising academic growth, research and finance,” Dr Daing said in a statement.
He added that Malaysian universities also worked closely with the Higher Education Ministry in spurring excellence.
Perkins reportedly said at the Jeffrey Cheah Institute-Malaysian Economic Association Economic Seminar Series that presidencies of Malaysian universities were picked by the Government on the basis of either political or ethnic criteria, calling instead for appointments to be driven by meritocracy.
Perkins said although there was equality practiced within the administration, faculties and selection of the student body, it excluded a substantial portion of the population.
He also said although high middle-income status countries must increasingly rely on their own capacity to innovate, he did not see any such uplift from Malaysians in research and development, noting that most innovations in the electronics sector had come from foreign companies.
In response, Dr Daing said it had to be stressed that universities in Malaysia enrolled students based on merit.
“The opportunity to get National Higher Education Fund Corporation loans is open to most students.
“The hiring of lecturers is also based on merit, whether they are locals or foreigners, by looking at their qualifications such as doctorate, research record, professional qualification or experience.
“The ability of Malaysian universities in producing quality or even volume of research has also been proven by objective documentations.
“In fact, the research collaboration with nearly 180 countries has produced a huge impact in academic article publication,” said Dr Daing.
He added that Malaysia leads Asean countries in this aspect since 2010 and the International Islamic University Malaysia was known as the university with the highest amount of Islamic finance publications in the world.
“Malaysian universities also implement translational research, which brings the benefits of research directly to the community, entrepreneurs or organisations with social innovations as done at Universiti Malaya, Universiti Putra Malaysia and Universiti Sains Malaysia.
“Malaysia has a RM7.2bil record that shows university achievements that could be translated in terms of income, grants and so on,” he said.
Dr Daing said the Global Competitiveness Index in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report placed Malaysia at the 25th position.
“In innovativeness and advancement, our country is 20th out of 138 countries.
“Surely such a significant contribution to the country’s innovativeness comes from research organisations such as universities,” he said.