Malaysian universities not generating enough quality, OECD innovation report says

According to the report, the R&D in Malaysian universities multiplied by 11 between 2000 and 2012 and the number of researchers expanded five-fold between 2006 and 2012 from 12,152 to 64,962 researchers. — AFP pic

According to the report, the R&D in Malaysian universities multiplied by 11 between 2000 and 2012 and the number of researchers expanded five-fold between 2006 and 2012 from 12,152 to 64,962 researchers. — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 11 — The quality of Malaysian universities must improve so that they can contribute to research and innovation as well as produce skilled graduates, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The OECD Reviews of Innovation Policy: Malaysia 2016 report released today said that while the number of university graduates and postgraduates has increased, the country was still missing overall quality.

“Responsiveness to industry needs remains an area of concern, as is ensuring quality education in private universities.

“No Malaysian institution is on the list of the top 100 in the Asian QS University Rankings — in contrast to universities from Singapore, Hong Kong (China) or India, who have recently joined this list. The quality and supply of science and technology graduates needs to improve to respond to the business sector’s growing demand for such skills,” said the OECD report.

According to the report, the research and development (R&D) in Malaysian universities multiplied by 11 between 2000 and 2012 and the number of researchers expanded five-fold between 2006 and 2012 from 12,152 to 64,962 researchers.

“Research and innovation capabilities at HEIs show signs of improving, but mostly in terms of quantity of publications rather than quality and impact,” said the OECD report, referring to higher education institutions.

The report noted that although there has been an “unprecedented surge” in the number of publications, their impact measured by citations has been “very low”.

Similarly, although the number of patents from tertiary institutions jumped quickly, the intellectual property created by research remained un-commercialised.

“The attractiveness of university patents to industry and their practical applicability seems weak; this is in part due to the lack of relevance of research to industry and weak communication between the two sectors.

“The quality of these patents remains a concern given the high costs of patenting and renewing intellectual property rights (at both national and international levels),” said the OECD report.

The OECD observed that only a few universities have started to collaborate with the business sector in R&D.

“While universities have taken steps in articulating research policies and research management offices, research efforts remain fragmented both across and within universities and lack effective strategic prioritisation,” the OECD added.

The OECD also highlighted the lack of a national policy on research infrastructure, which it said affected universities’ research excellence.

“The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation has begun efforts to conduct a national inventory but no coordination mechanisms are yet in place,” said the OECD report.

“Guidelines for the collective use of infrastructure also need to be established to ensure a cost-efficient use of infrastructure and equipment. A competitive and well-managed research infrastructure is critical to foster research excellence, enhance the quality of research and attract talented young researchers, including from abroad,” it added.

Source: The Malay Mail Online (11th November 2016)

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