Number of PhD grads in line with other leading research universities, says UPM corporate relations director

PETALING JAYA: Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) has denied that the number of PhD graduates from its recent convocation in early January is "too many".

UPM Centre for Strategic and Corporate Relations director Prof Dr Azmawani Abd Rahman said the number of PhDs issued by UPM recently – 398 – was the usual issued by research universities.

"This is in line with the best practices of the world’s leading universities where the enrolment of PhD (candidates) is an indicator of a university's excellence," she said in a statement on Wednesday (Jan 19).

She noted that Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) had produced 563 PhD graduates while Harvard University had produced over 500 graduates in 2020.

Both, she added, are among the top five universities in the world according to the QS World University Ranking 2022.

Prof Azmawani said that UPM has over 1,600 academics who possess PhDs that are completely eligible to supervise other PhD candidates.

She also said that the criteria to select PhD candidates at the university are higher than those set by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) to ensure the quality of graduates is kept high.

Besides having to produce a thesis that must pass three external assessors, PhD candidates must also publish in two citation-indexed journals before being awarded their scroll, she said.

This reflected the research university’s ability to produce PhD graduates that meet international best practices, she added.

Prof Azmawani was commenting on a statement by PKR information chief Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar Md Akin disputing the number of PhD holders produced by the university at its 44th convocation ceremony.

"I wonder why so many people are awarded PhDs at UPM when foreign universities that are higher-ranked in the Times Higher Education list, for example, do not award that many PhD degrees in a year," he said according to a news portal on Tuesday (Jan 18).

Prof Azmawani said UPM would like to emphasise that the statement was "misleading and inaccurate".

"The number of PhDs issued by UPM at the 44th convocation for the 2020 student cohort is the result of high quality teaching, learning and research," she added.

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