Former UM vice-chancellor says it could rise to 600,000 if nothing is done to improve their English proficiency and university education as a whole. Free Malaysia Today’s Minderjeet Kaur reports:
The number of unemployed people who graduate from local public universities is set to rise further, an academician warned today.
Not only would the unemployed figure from this group rise higher than the present 400,000, about 80 per cent of the jobless would be Bumiputera, according to Prof Ghauth Jasmon.
He estimated the figure at 600,000 in the next few years, if nothing was done to improve university education.
The former Universiti Malaya vice-chancellor said the reality was that the private sector preferred hiring graduates from private universities and colleges.
“The private sector needs graduates who speak and write English. Many public university graduates are hired by the Government and join the civil service. But the Government cannot hire everyone,” he said.
Every year about 200,000 graduate from institutions of higher learning in the country.
He said despite the Government spending billions of ringgit on public universities, the demand for graduates from these universities remained low.
“It is a sad thing that this is happening. One way of overcoming the problem is for vice-chancellors to implement measures that will benefit the nation.
“Vice-chancellors need to be bold. They need to do what is good for the students and for the country so no funds are wasted.”
Ghauth, who was UM vice-chancellor from 2008 to 2013, said he had faced a lot of resistance from lecturers and students when he wanted to improve students’ soft skills, such as having extra English classes.
“The backlash to that was bad. There were demonstrations, encouraged by lecturers. They accused me of making Malay language as the second language. For the next one year, I had to continuously write to newspapers on the reasons for my move.”
Another move he made was to ask lecturers to submit their research and paperwork to International Scientific Indexing (ISI) journals. “The professors petitioned against me. They wanted to remove me. ISI journals have to be in English. They felt I was not in support of the Malay language.”
He then decided to reduce the salaries of UM professors studying PhD in Australia, United Kingdom and Canada who took three to four years longer than the deadline.
“I told them if you do not finish your courses by a certain time, the UM will cut your salary by RM200 to RM600 a month depending on the length of delay.”
Even though, there were objections, he said, the policy remained till today. He noted that almost 90 per cent of professors were now finishing their PhD on time.
He said vice-chancellors should not give in to pressure as they knew their measures were for the betterment of the country. It was not about being in the good books of everyone, he said.