PETALING JAYA: UCSI professor Tajuddin Rasdi has accused academics in the country of losing sight of their true role in society.
He said this following a report that some academics in at least two universities said they were feeling the cash crunch after the government slashed funds meant for higher education institutions.
Speaking to FMT, Tajuddin said those complaining about their financial state were only thinking about their pockets and not looking at the bigger picture.
“The problem is that these people are thinking of it as a job instead of thinking of it as their calling,” he said.
“You’re an academic. You hold the country in your hands and you can change the direction of the country, but you don’t realise that.
“All you care about is your own financial state, but everyone is concerned about that including the ‘pisang goreng’ seller.
“What makes you different from the ‘pisang goreng’ seller? You’re in a position to change the country, he’s not.”
Tajuddin said the problem was that these lecturers did not realise the value of knowledge and the responsibility they had towards society because of the knowledge they possessed.
“All you know is to produce papers to get promoted, and all you see is that in order to get promoted, you have to produce so many papers.
“Don’t you know that what you possess at the moment is so valuable that it allows you to write books and explain things to others?
“I’m embarrassed to hear that academics from public universities with high qualifications are unable to see the role that knowledge and academia play in society.”
Tajuddin also questioned why some assumed the quality of education would suffer just because there were smaller budgets to work with now.
He reasoned that there were many creative ways lecturers could handle the extra workload if they only cared to think outside the box.
“The higher education ministry has already given the green light to have all or half of one’s courses online. It’s just effective teaching.
“These people are talking like we’re in the 1960s and people have to stand in front of a class to deliver a lecture.
“I’ve written so many books and if I can’t physically be there to give a lecture, I instruct my students to refer to this book or that book because the books are already written well enough for anyone to understand.
“If you’ve not written any books and you’re just talking with slides from your PowerPoint, then of course that requires for you to be there.”
Tajuddin also took a swipe at lecturers who say they do not have the time to provide good quality education for their students.
“How many public lectures have you delivered? I average two public lectures a month. How many articles in the media have you written?
“Even when you want to speak to a reporter, you hide your name. Why are you hiding your name? Where is your integrity as an academic?”
Tajuddin said that if it were true that conditions were so dire, he would be more than willing to conduct a workshop on how public universities could contribute academically without a big budget.