Thursday, March 29, 2012

Research Universities

Malaysia has around 20 plus universities including foreign universities such as Nottingham and Curtin universities all over the country including Sabah and Sarawak.. Out of these universities four of them are regarded as "Research universities". They are UKM, UM, USM and UPM.  The conferment of a research university by the Ministry of Higher Education is based on a number of criteria which include among others publication and research. The public  universities now are having a rat race trying to out do one another . They keep on reminding their academics to speed up their research and publications so that the university could retain their status as a research university. Getting the status means that they wil get millions in university research grants.

As a result,  life as a lecturer is not easy  compared to 15 years ago. You are always on your toes. With the MYRA II each academic would have to publish at least 4 journals a year. They are required to get published in ISI and Scopus journals. Otherwise, they would called for a morning bashing by the Dean. The lecturers'  academic performance is reflected in the colour of their "Jalur" or bands. If you are in the "Jalur Jingga" or orange colour  you are under performing or in the danger zone. And as a punishment you are asked to teach more hours and deprived from presenting papers overseas. But if you are in "Jalur Hijau" you are a top performer. As the person in this "Jalur" you are given much less hours and sometimes you don't even have to teach a class. Other academics especially those in "Jalur Jingga" would have to work longer and teach those classes left by the top performers.

In the madness of maintaining the Research University status and striving for a better ranking place in university ranking, the academics are made to work like hell. They have less time for anything else. They stay out until late in the evening trying to complete their research and publication. The fun of teaching and supervising students are diminishing. Imparting real knowledge to the learners is now  becoming less and less frequent. All the time is filled with writing papers for the Scopus and ISI journals and doing research. I think they are becoming selfish of their time.

As a consequence of this craziness of publication the standard or cut off point for promotion for AP ship and Professorship gets higher. Nowadays, its not even easy to get promoted to an Associate Professor in a research university compared to other non-research universities. The university administrators are only interested in proofs of publication in ISI and SCOPUS. Now, we see that even RAs or research assistants who are our potential lecturers are not interested to become lecturers in a research university. They too see how difficult it is to become one and they are giving it a pass.

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