Be fair to local academics

THE issue of predatory academic journals has been in the spotlight for the past week. A report disseminated on social media ranked Malaysia fourth in the number of publications in predatory journals. As a result, Malaysian academics have been adversely judged and labelled incompetent, lacking of quality and unsuitable.

Prior to this, Arshad Ayub, a renowned academic figure, contended that 2,500 professors in Malaysia are of no quality. As a result, they were practically bashed on every sides.

Despite all these allegations, the fact remains that there are a number of Malaysian academics whose expertise are recognised nationally and globally. 

These are among the achievements of Malaysian academics thus far: 

* Based on the survey by the QS World University Rankings in 2020, there are five Malaysian universities ranked top 10 in the region. This means that 50% out of top ten universities in Southeast Asia are from Malaysia, outnumbering other nations like Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia;

* The QS World University Rankings also acknowledged in 2020 that 10 Malaysian universities are among 110 Best Universities in Asia;

* In 2019, the World Economic Forum (WEF) recognised Malaysia as one of the most competitive nations in the world in education out of 141 nations in total. Malaysia was at 19th place, outdoing other developed nations like the United Kingdom, Japan and France;

* There are numerous Malaysian academics appointed as visiting professors and academic fellows in renowned universities all over the world. Some are even holding or have held important posts in international organisations at international fora;

* There are many local graduates who are working in various professional sectors in Malaysia and abroad; 

* A number of local graduates are now undergoing their postgraduate studies in renowned universities the world over. Many have completed their course with flying colours; and

* There are also many international students who graduated from Malaysian universities are now serving in their nations in various sectors. 

In conclusion, do not simply judge all Malaysian academics adversely because of a report on publications in predatory journals. This would unwarrantedly affect the nation’s educational system, leaving adverse implications on local universities, members of the academic fraternity as well as on students who work hard to excel in their studies. 

Those in the industry should be reminded that they are where they are today because of the nation’s education system. At one point, they used to be students trained at local universities. When local academics are ridiculed by some individuals from the industry, this directly or indirectly shows that they are insulting their former teachers who were part and parcel of their success. 

If this issue crops up again, it is hoped that fellow academics, particularly senior professors could stand up together to protect the sanctity of this noble profession from being the subject of mockery by irresponsible individuals. 

Only academics would understand the difficulties, struggle and sacrifice one has to go through to become a qualified educator. 

One should stop talking through one’s hat. – February 18, 2021.

* Associate Professor Dr. Mohd Hazmi bin Mohd Rusli dan Dr. Fareed Mohd Hassan are lecturers at the Faculty of Syariah and Law, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia. 

* Dr Mohd Hazmi is a Visiting Professor at the School of Law, Far Eastern Federal University, Vladivostok, Russia. Dr Fareed is a PhD graduate from the School of Law, University of Aberdeen, Scotland.

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight. Article may be edited for brevity and clarity.

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