The newly released Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings 2019 reported a Malaysian university being positioned among the world top 100 universities for the first time. University of Malaya (UM), ranked 87, made this landmark achievement in the history of higher education of Malaysia by moving up 27 places from last year. The rapid rise in its ranking by 80 places since 2014 placed UM within the top 9% of 1,011 institutions ranked by QS in its latest release. Globally, UM is within the top 1% of approximately 26,000 universities.
Earlier, at the beginning of the year, UM emerged top in Malaysia in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2018 for all the five faculty areas the rankings covered. These are Arts & Humanities, Engineering & Technology, Life Science & Medicine, Natural Sciences, and Social Science & Management. The university also broke its own record by making it to the top 50 in the world in seven subjects: Library & Information Management (24), Development Studies (30), Electrical & Electronics Engineering (30), Mineral & Mining (47), Mechanical, Aeronautical & Manufacturing (41), Chemical Engineering (42) and Civil & Structure Engineering (46).
Caught by surprise, the UM community is delighted with this achievement that did them proud. While he remained humble, Datuk Ir. (Dr.) Abdul Rahim Hj. Hashim, the Vice-Chancellor added that this is also pride of the nation. Datuk Ir. (Dr.) Abdul Rahim Hj. Hashim attributed this success to the commitment of all UM staff and their dedication towards achieving the goals set in the University’s strategic plan to strengthen its fundamentals particularly in teaching, research and international collaboration. He emphasized that the work done by his predecessors and the university for the past years has laid a strong foundation that paved the way to the top 100.
Further analysis into the ranking results showed that the gains through three indicators, namely academic reputation, employer reputation, and citations per faculty leapfrogged the university into the top 100. The first two are indicators of the university’s reputation among the academic community and employers respectively, and the third measures the impact of its publications. These, according to the Vice-Chancellor, represent global acknowledgement and recognition of UM’s quality in teaching and research. He highlighted that UM’s assiduous efforts in strengthening research, internationalisation as well as industry engagement over the past few years are now yielding positive results.
The emphasis for the university next is the way to move forward. It will continue its primary focus on establishing stronger academic fundamentals. Only through such efforts, the university can maintain or better its ranking in the coming years. Intensification of international collaborations and enhancing research and industry partnerships are among its top priority. Its position in the top 100 augurs well for UM to attract internationally renowned institutions and industry partners to work with UM, as well as to attract out-standing students from around the world to enroll in its programmes.
The university is fully aware of the challenges ahead for realization of its full potential. The results this year that saw a continuous drop in the ranking of the international staff indicator further deepened the university’s concern of its plan to expand its talent pool. The cut in the government’s allocation to the university had adverse implications on its international staff intake and ability to retain productive retired academics on contract. The university’s efforts towards financial sustainability will not yield immediate results to bridge the shortfall due to the drop in government funding.
Datuk Ir. (Dr.) Abdul Rahim Hj. Hashim would like to thank the Chancellor of UM, Pro-Chancellors and Board of Directors for their unwavering support. He also acknowledged the support of the Ministry of Education Malaysia that made it possible for UM’s achievement. He reiterated that the Ministry’s assistance is imperative to further develop the country’s premier university to bring it to new heights.