However, some people have argued that our local universities are graduating too many PhD students.
In an opinion piece shared by a local news portal, PKR’s Information Chief and Hang Tuah Jaya MP, Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin questioned why Universiti Putra Malaysia’s (UPM) recent graduation ceremony had as many as 398 PhD graduates.
“I wonder why so many people are awarded PhDs at UPM whilst foreign universities that rank higher in the Times Higher Education list, for example, do not award that many PhD degrees in a year.”
He went on to question how the university evaluates its PhD students and their quality of education.
“The award of a PhD is no small matter. A person who has a PhD is considered fit and competent to perform work in accordance with his or her expertise. If the quality of the PhD is compromised then the work done will risk the organization that hires them,” he added.
“I urge the Ministry of Higher Education to monitor local universities that produce so many PhD graduates in a year and scrutinise their PhD production methods, before the ranking of Malaysian universities declines internationally.”
His views have been criticised by PhD holders
In response to the article, PhD holder Dr Syahr Musafir expressed his views through a Facebook post. It reads, “At first I thought nothing of it (Shamsul’s views). However, after I have seen so many people criticise UPM and other Malaysian universities, I felt trigged.”
"Hairan bagaimana UPM anugerahkan hampir 400 graduan PhD" dalam majlis konvokesyen baru-baru ini?Pada awalnya saya tak…
“1st of all, you have to see who has prompted the issue. It’s not an academician, professor or lecturer. But a politician,” he said.
“2ndly, it has clearly been announced that Malaysia aims to produce 60,000 PhD graduates by 2025. These lecturers work hard to achieve the target, but when they managed to produce many PhD graduates suddenly politicians complain?”
Syahr went on to ask him to prove the fact that he said a leading university produces less than 10 or 20 PhD graduates yearly.
“Check out the Harvard website, May 27, 2021, 1 school (or 1 faculty) namely the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences awarded 572 PhDs. This is 1 school (or 1 faculty) only. Not 2, not 3, not 4, not the whole university,” he explained.
He also questioned the need to compare UPM with Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard. “What is the need for this comparison? Want to show that UPM and Malaysian universities are lower class?”
“Actually it is more puzzling why there are so many politicians and MPs in Malaysia.”
“If you want to question, ask, or criticise, as a politician, do use the proper channels instead of issuing a public statement which has led to the public to pick on the credibility of UPM,” added Syahr.
“If you want to know about a university, listen to those who are in it. I am not a UPM staff or an alumni. But I love UPM and I love Malaysia,” he concluded.
His post has garnered over 4,800 likes and 1,800 shares as many other Malaysians shared his view.
Are there simply too many PhD holders in Malaysia? Let us know in the comments.
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