Asia University Rankings 2016: Malaysia must refocus to develop as a higher education power

Malaysia aims to be the “education hub” of South-east Asia, says Wahid Omar, vice-chancellor of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.

“Higher education is the catalyst for innovation for the country and the key agent in revolutionising the lives of the community as a whole,” he says.

While Singapore is the strongest country in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in the rankings, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia are also home to some of the continent’s top-ranked universities.

Thailand leads on the number of representatives, with seven, but the highest-ranked institution in the region outside Singapore is Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, in joint 70th place.

Jamil Salmi, former coordinator of the World Bank’s tertiary education programme, says Malaysia has “more consistently focused on excellence in its university sector” than Thailand and Indonesia and has “one of the highest levels of public spending on tertiary education in the world”.

But Simon Marginson, professor of international higher education at the UCL Institute of Education, says that as Malaysia has “two-thirds of the gross domestic product per head of Korea”, it “should be doing much better”, and he questions whether the country is “paying the price for being a resource-rich economy”.

“This can lead governments to ‘coast’ and underperform in higher education,” he says.

Source: Times Higher Education. Date: June 20, 2016