Ensure all universities attain international standard
DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw reiterates that the Government should ensure that all universities including polytechnic universities attain international standard.
On 26.2.2010, Dr Tan comments on the Government's intention to turn three polytechnics into universities in five years as mentioned by the Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Khalid Nordin yesterday.
Having more universities with world standard is good for the country. We have 20 public universities and about 40 private universities. We hope that the 20 public universities will achieve higher standard. Hitherto, none of our univerisities are in the top 100 of the world, let alone in the top 50 or even top 20. Granted the criteria used to assess universities such as those by The Times of UK and Shanghai Transport University vary. These may not be perfect. But, they can be used as rough yardsticks.
We have 27 polytechnics with full-time students of 86,000. The three to be elevated to universities are Politeknik Sultan Salahuhuddin Abdul Aziz Shah in Selangor, Politeknik Ungku Omar in Perak and Politeknik Johor Baru. These polytechnics play an important part in vocational courses, serving the need of the society.
Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin launched the Transformation of Polytechnics programme yesterday, saying that the elevation of these institutions to universities was to attract students with good grades to do degree courses.
It is reasonable to encourage stduents in polytechnics to advance themselves. It is true that for years other countries have been offering such courses to their students.
Datuk Seri Khalid, who accompanied Muhyiddin at the launch, believes that for our country’s new economic model, we need manpower specialised in new areas, saying that the transformation plan would change the way people viewed polytechnics. He hoped that this would lead to at least 34 per cent of polytechnic students holding master’s degrees or PhDs.
We would like Muhyiddin and Khalid to let us know how these polytechnic universities will be funded. For example, this year the budget allocation for the 20 public universities is RM13 billion. This is scarcely enough to ensure that these universities improve their standard in all aspects.
It is still not possible to compare our university budget with that of, say, Harvard University, whose annual budget may be more than RM13 billion. Nevertheless, Malaysia's allocation for education is RM30.5 billion, plus higher eduction RM13 billion, totalling RM43.5 billion in a budget of RM191.5 billion. This is impressive. Let us have no wastage.
Besides twinning with local and foreign universities, what will the strategy be to make polytechnic universities reach world standard?
Dr Tan Seng Giaw