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Change is desperately needed to uplift Malaysian universities

It has been reported that Malaysian universities have failed to make it into the top 100 of the first-ever Times Higher Education (THE) Asia-Pacific University Ranking 2017.

The rankings—it should be noted—use the same performance indicators at the THE’s World University Rankings, with certain adjustments.

As per the THE’s Asia-Pacific rankings, the top 5 universities in the region are the National University of Singapore, Peking University, the University of Melbourne, Tsinghua University and the Nanyang Technological University.

Conversely, the top 5 Malaysian universities in the list are the Universiti Putra Malaysia (128), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (130), Universiti Teknologi Petronas (138), Universiti Sains Malaysia (149) and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (154).

This performance is very disappointing, although of course university rankings cannot only be the barometer of an institution’s strengths.

Nevertheless, our universities’ failing to crack the top 100 suggests that international perceptions towards our higher education institutions remain poor.

It is also extremely worrying that flagship institutions such as the University of Malaya failed to even be placed in the list.

The rankings are a clear sign as any that the BN government’s education policies are not working despite a dizzying number of policy changes.

Change is desperately needed if Malaysia is to prepare its students for the future, including the challenges of online education, automation and globalisation.

The Pakatan Harapan Youth have recently outlined its #HarapanAnakMuda platform that a PH-led government will embark on in regards to education should we win power in the next General Elections.

We will seek to implement initiatives such as free education for public universities as well as to build more high-quality higher learning institutes including universities, teaching colleges and vocational colleges to meet growing demand for tertiary education.

We will also to strengthen and defend the autonomy of higher education institutions, which has been eroded under the current government.

At the end of the day, improving education in Malaysia will require political will and that can only come about by electing a PH government in the next General Elections.