PETALING JAYA: Najib Razak today attributed the improved global rankings of several higher learning institutions to policies undertaken during his tenure as prime minister.
This included the implementation of the National Transformation Programme where education was the main focus and the decision to hire renowned consultants McKinsey & Co to develop the Malaysian Education Blueprint.
The former prime minister said the move to hire McKinsey & Co for RM20 million had received a lot of objections, including by leaders of the then opposition.
“The Barisan Nasional government at that time was criticised for being foolish and wasteful, among others, for hiring foreign consultants,” Najib, who was the education minister from 1995 to 1999, said in a Facebook post.
Najib said his administration was also slammed after slashing the allocation for higher learning institutions in the national budget.
In 2016, Najib announced that funding for the higher education ministry was set at RM6.117 billion, down from RM7.575 billion allocated for 2016.
Critics, he said, accused the government of being bankrupt or indifferent to development of the country’s education, while others claimed that university fees would be increased.
Najib said this was despite the fact that the decision to reduce the budget for higher learning institutions was included in the education development plan.
“In the end, our plan worked. Fees were not increased and the performance of these higher learning institutions improved.”
Universiti Malaya’s ranking, he pointed out, moved up every year and in June this year UM ranked 87 in the 2019 QS World University Rankings.
Other higher learning institutions, he said, also improved their standing on a yearly basis.
“This shows that the criticisms were baseless. It also shows how easy it was for Pakatan to instigate the people to go against well-planned strategies.”
Earlier today, it was reported that the nation strengthened its presence in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2019.
UM made the global top 350 best institutions, while Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) maintained its hold in the rankings’ 501–600 band.
Malaysia has 11 institutions represented in the 2019 table – an increase from nine last year.
The annual table lists more than 1,250 higher education institutions from 86 countries.