Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (pic) must explain why Malaysian universities continue to be left out of the ranking of the world's best universities, an Opposition leader said today.
DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang, referring to the absence of Malaysian institutions in the latest Times Higher Education (THE) World Reputation rankings released today, said that this was a far cry from the time of the 1950s and 1960s when University of Malaya (UM) was comparable to the world's best.
"University of Malaya was comparable to the universities of Singapore, Hong Kong, Melbourne and Sydney back then, but now we are being overtaken by universities Malaysians had never even heard of," he said in a statement today.
Lim cited the Middle East Technical University of Turkey and the University of Sao Paulo of Brazil as examples, saying that the two have consistently been ranked in the THE Top 100 Universities World Reputation Rankings for the past three years.
In the ranking released today, The National University of Singapore (NUS) made the top 50 at number 21, making it the third highest ranked Asian university on the list.
Lim said that other Asian universities that made it along with NUS were the Seoul National University (No. 26), Tsinghua University (No. 36), Peking University (No. 41), University of Hong Kong (No. 43), Osaka University (No. 50), Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), National Taiwan University and Tokyo Institute of Technology (No. 51-60), Tohoku University (No. 61-70), Chinese University of Hong Kong, Yonsei University (No.81-90) and Nanyang Technological University (No. 91-100).
As such, Lim said that, in order to regain world class standard, Muhyiddin must answer why Malaysian universities have regressed.
"Does he dare make a ministerial statement in Parliament next week to explain how is it that Singapore can get two universities for four consecutive years into the world ranking list, but not one from Malaysia made it?
"What university reforms does he have in mind," Lim asked.
Earlier this year, Muhyiddin faced relentless attacks over Malaysia's poor results in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which tested 15-year-olds on mathematics, science and reading.
The PISA 2012 results released last year showed that Malaysia was ranked 55 out of the 65 countries surveyed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Neighbouring nations such as Singapore were ranked No. 2 worldwide, while Vietnam, a low-income country, performed better than Malaysia by grabbing 17th spot.
Lim also said that at UM's centennial celebration in 2005, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the deputy prime minister then, had issued a challenge to the university to raise its 89th ranking in the Times Higher Education Supplement World Universities Ranking in 2004 to 50th position by 2020.
That is just six years away, but since 2005, what we have seen is a decline and regression in the ranking of Malaysian universities," he said.
Lim added that not a single Malaysian institution ranked in both the THE Top 100 Universities World Reputation Rankings and the THE World University Rankings for Top 400 in the past four years.
The 2014 THE World Reputation was based on 10,536 responses from 133 countries to Thomson Reuters’ 2013 Academic Reputation Survey, which was carried out from 21 March to 21 May 2013.
This year’s rankings saw Harvard University in the United States taking pole position for the fourth year in the list of 100 top universities. -- March 6, 2014.