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Ranking is not everything to a university

  • Global ranking is never the ultimate goal of any university, but grooming high-caliber future leaders of this country is.

Sin Chew Daily

The latest World University Rankings 2020 released by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) has been a boon to Malaysian universities.

A total of 20 Malaysian universities made it to the list. At 70th, Universiti Malaya was the highest ranked local institution while UTAR made it to the list for the first time this year.

Overall speaking, the performance of Malaysian universities has been very encouraging. Not only do we have seven more universities in the list this year, UM's ranking has jumped by 17 places!

Indeed this is good news to the country. However, as education minister Maszlee Malik said, the ranking should not be of primary concern to Malaysia's higher education sector, but more importantly we must form an intellectual ecosystem at our universities.

We cannot deny that there is some significance in the position of a university's global ranking which to some extent reflects the quality of the school.

Nevertheless, we must realize that all rankings have their own preset criteria and limitations and may not necessarily reflect the reality.

As a matter of fact, our universities should adopt specific measures to improve their ranking, including improving the student-to-lecturer ratio and recruiting more international students.

Under such circumstances, even though a university has seen improved ranking, it does not mean that the university's teaching quality and student performance have also improved proportionately.

The poor quality of our students may not improve with the improvement in the university's ranking. Similarly, the increasingly serious unemployment issue among graduates may not be resolved with improved university ranking either

In fact, even though the ranking of local universities has improved steadily in recent years, the employment rate among public and private university graduates has yet to reach 80%.

Compared to global university ranking, what is more important is the teaching quality of our universities as well as a healthy intellectual ecosystem to ensure that the students can absorb large amounts of knowledge and build up logical and creative thinking and the ability to handle problems.

Many of our university graduates are rejected in the job market mainly because of their poor command of English as well as lack of employable skills that meet job market requirements, among others.

In view of this, the education ministry and university authorities must tackle the problem at its root to boost the quality of our universities and their students, substantial improvement of which will naturally be reflected in their global ranking.

Probably due to the lackluster performance of local universities in the past, the authorities have been too engrossed with lifting their global ranking. It is now time to put this concern aside and focus on the enhancement of the overall quality.

Global ranking is never the ultimate goal of any university, but grooming high-caliber future leaders of this country is.

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