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26-10-2010 18:31

Nobel dream for varsities

THE Higher Education Ministry will develop the quality of research in public universities to ensure that a Malaysian wins the prestigious Nobel Prize.

However, deputy minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said no target had been set for the country to produce a winner.

“It is hard to place a deadline to win such a prestigious prize. What is more important (for the ministry) is our KPI requires us to provide university education to all,” Saifuddin told Nga Kor Ming (DAP-Taiping), who asked whether the ministry had plans for a Malaysian to win a Nobel Prize in any category by 2020 .

Earlier, Saifuddin told Liew Chin Tong (DAP-Bukit Bendera) that the QS World University Rankings (QS WUR) should not be used as the sole yardstick to judge the standards of local universities.

“The criteria used in the WUR, especially those that place emphasis on the percentage of international students, do not reflect the country’s priority to its own citizens,” said Saifuddin.

Liew had asked how the Government planned to improve the capabilities of public universities after Universiti Malaya (UM) dropped from 180th to 207th in the 2010 QS rankings.

Saifuddin said the ministry was aware of the drop in UM’s ranking but added rankings for local universities fluctuated several times in 2010.

“For example, Universiti Sains Malaysia rose from 314th to 263rd, Universiti Putra Malaysia rose from 345th to 319th, UTM remained at 320th, while Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia dropped from 291st to 309th,” said Saifuddin.

He said the ministry was taking steps to improve the quality of public universities, such as increasing the student-lecturer ratio and revising the course curriculum.

27-07-2010 05:29

IPTs urged to award students credits for voluntary services

BANGI: Higher Learning Institutions (IPTs) in the country have been urged to award credit points to students involved in voluntary services and activities, to attract more participation in such activities.

Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said voluntary activities were among eight principles included in the co-curriculum for IPTs but received the least attention from students.

The ministry had encouraged IPTs to award credit points for voluntary services and activities since 2007 but until today, some IPTs have not awarded such points," he told reporters after closing a Kelab Penyayang 2010 meeting at the EPF Social Security Training Institute (Esset) here Sunday.

Saifuddin said participating in Kelab Penyayang activities were also among voluntary activities that need to be considered for giving credit points.

Currently, only Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) gives students credit points for their involvement in voluntary service.

He added that since UTM already has a system of awarding points for such activities, he hoped other IPTs can come forward to offer credit points as well. - Bernama

31-05-2010 06:55

Don't cut subsidies for students, says deputy minister

TEMERLOH: The Government has been urged to continue with subsidies under the Higher Education Ministry’s education programmes for students from poor families.

Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said the ministry provided education subsidies which most parents relied on to send their children for higher studies.

He said many students would not be able to pursue higher studies if the facility was to be withdrawn.

“Many parents in the rural areas whose children study at public institutions of higher learning rely on government aid and loans,” he told reporters after closing a Moh Desa Perwira programme at the National Defence University in Kampung Bangau Parit near here yesterday.

He said the loans provided by the National Higher Education Fund Corporation had helped ease the parents’ burden.

“As such, it would not be right for the Government to reduce or withdraw the education subsidy.”

In Petaling Jaya, National Union of Bank Employees secretary-general J. Solomon said NUBE was not in favour of a gradual reduction in subsidies unless initiatives to turn the country towards a high-income economy had been achieved.

“Currently, NUBE is unable to give its support as the 30,000 workers in the banking sector are lowly paid with increasing debts even though the profits of the banks in the last 10 years are very evident,” he said in a statement yesterday.

He said the New Economic Model, which was geared towards a high-income economy, was a move in the right direction and Malaysians were awaiting the Government’s initiatives in achieving this.

He pointed out that the depression of wages in the country for the last 30 years had further widened the gap between the rich and the poor and caused uneven distribution of wealth.

Consequently, he said the middle- and lower-income group compromised on health, education and quality of life. He said these problems would eventually result in social ills.

“The intended abolition of subsidies will actually impose a financial catastrophe on millions of Malaysian workers,” he said.

20-05-2010 06:29

Speakers' Corner needs voices

PUTRAJAYA: The Higher Education Ministry is disappointed with the poor response to Speakers' Corners created at higher education institutions.

Deputy Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said the corner, an area where public speaking was allowed, had not been functioning as expected.

He called on undergraduates to make full use of the space available within their campuses to speak their minds.

“There was a lot of activity during campus elections, but there has virtually been no response since. In fact, in some of the public universities, there is no activity at all at the Speakers' Corner since the launch four months ago,” Saifuddin told a news conference on the forthcoming Intellect and Debate Fest 2010 (Petah) here yesterday.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohammed Khaled Nordin announced last November that local universities could set up their own Speakers' Corner to allow students to speak up on topics of their choice.

Saifuddin said he believed students here were still not used to a culture of public debate, and tende to view the Speakers' Corner purely as a stage for political issues.

“The space is meant to allow students to share their ideas on any topic, not just politics. There is also a perception among students that their freedom of speech was being restricted by university administrators.

“Some have complained that they had to submit the text of their speech for review beforehand,” he said.

The deputy minister stressed that university students should be encouraged to engage in public speaking and debate to improve their communication skills.

Petah 2010 is a multilingual debate event slated between May 27 and June 1 at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur. It hopes to set a world record for the longest non-stop debate.

01-02-2010 05:09

Ex-Senate president lauds return of Speaker's Corner

PETALING JAYA: Universiti Ma­la­ya’s re-established Speaker’s Corner will invigorate the minds of its students, says a student leader from the 1960s.

“They may be inexperienced but it will help them develop a good perspective on things.

“I hope the students will be given flexibility on the issues they can raise. There has to be some freedom of expression.

Down memory lane: Adam looking at the story he wrote for ‘Mingguan Malaysia’ in 1966.

“However, with that comes the responsibility to speak decently and considerately,” said former Senate president Tan Sri Adam Kadir, who was pursuing an arts degree in the university when the first Speaker’s Corner was set up on June 15, 1966.

He went on to feature the first session of the Speaker’s Corner in his column in Mingguan Malaysia.

“It was under the big tree outside the main library. A group of students casually organised a place where anyone could speak their mind,” he recalled.

He said the corner had humble beginnings but slowly grew in popularity and was noticed by university authorities.

Among the speakers Adam remembered was former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Rahim Noor.

Adam said his fellow students spoke on issues of the day then, such as communism, the Vietnam war and Afro-Asian concerns.

01-02-2010 05:06

Don't expel students demonstrating against campus election, universities told

SHAH ALAM: University authorities were asked to be fair and not expel the nine varsity students who were detained by police on Jan 23 in Kuala Lumpur for demonstrating against the campus election process.

Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, said the matter should be left to the police for further action.

He hoped the university authorities would not charge them twice for the same offence.

"Every university had disciplinary actions where expulsion was the last resort. I hope it would not come to that," he told reporters after officiating a Karangkaraf Carnival here on Saturday.

In the incident, police detained the nine from about 200 students from various varsities who participated in a gathering to protest against the campus polls process at Menara Tun Razak, Jalan Raja, before marching to the Sogo shopping complex about 500m away. - BERNAMA

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