Malaysia higher educational institutions are quite concern lately about the shortage of PhD qualified lecturers in universities, public universities in particular.

Most local universities are busy finding solutions to boost their rankings, they often look for shortcuts like hiring more PhD holders, getting more international students.. but often neglected the core of education.

It will take a few post to discuss the whole matter, I’ll now show a few examples why PhD lecturers are not necessary good lecturers, and might not be the direct solution for better higher education.

Not all PhD are equal in qualities
A PhD from Harvard will value higher than a PhD from Universiti Malaya, probably a business degree from Harvard could worth more than a DBA from UM.

We need quality PhDs, not just any PhDs. If you are graduated from local public universities, you’ll probably notice how easy it is for some people to obtain their post-graduate degree and their PhD later on.

I have a friend that’s working on his PhD at USM, and he can still play online games for over 10 hours a day. He’s on track for graduation next year as PhD holder, at the age of 28 while spending most of his PhD research time playing PC games. He must be a genius.

Working experience can be more valuable than PhD
When I studied my engineering in UM, some of the courses were taught by industrial professionals rather than common lecturers, and those classes were always the students’ favorite.

Quite often the real lecturers in public universities are out of touch with the real world, they don’t know (or don’t even care) about what’s applicable and still usable in the industry.

I had lecturers that taught us computer-engineering drawing but unsure of what software Proton was using, nor Intel, nor Motorola etc. We as undergraduates had to organize study trips to visit those major industry leaders in Malaysia to learn what’s needed in our syllabus, which I think should be the lecturers and faculty’s responsibility.

Good in learning doesn’t mean good in teaching
How often have we seen lecturers that can’t teach? I don’t doubt that some of the PhD lecturers are genius in some sense, but lots of them don’t know how to convey their knowledge to the class.

And for goodness sake, if the undergraduates need to take all those English classes and test like MUET, why aren’t lecturers required to do so? Don’t be suprise that lots of lecturers (with or without PhD) in Malaysia public universities can’t speak proper English.

Fine enough if lecturers are teaching Malaysia students in BM, but if Malaysia are to be an international education hub.. we need English.

PhD doesn’t guarantee professionalism
I had lecturers that skipped the class fortnightly, I had lecturers that came into the class and spent more time to talk on politics than teaching, and I had lecturers that are more concern about obtaining his professor status rather than the students’ curriculum.

I wonder if there’s an independent board that monitors the quality and professionalism of the lecturers.. with or without PhD doesn’t really matters in this sense, their ethic is what in question here.

The quality of lecturers is just part of the equation that contributes to the quality of higher education in Malaysia. Rushing in getting more lecturers to teach in public universities are not going to settle much problems if the points above are handle lightly as always.

We need good lecturers, not just PhD lecturers.



19 Responses to “PhD lecturers not necessary good lecturers”

  1. Need not to know Says:
    September 12th, 2006 at 4:37 pm

    Wish to share this article with those are here:

    The poor state of our graduates by Dr Mana
    Sep 1, 06 2:32pm

    When our graduates are unable to secure jobs in many of the private sector companies, one begins to wonder as to why this should happen. Aren’t there enough jobs for our graduates or is it because they are not qualified enough to be employed?

    Many of our IT graduates, for instance, are unemployed or doing jobs that do not commensurate their qualifications. If they cannot make it within the country they would, theoretically, find it much tougher to survive in the global market. Some employers lament that our graduates are not resourceful, creative and functional enough to survive in a challenging working environment.

    In a way, these employers are right. The mode of strait-jacketing our students at the school and university levels only reminds us of conformism to the traditional school teaching where students are trained just to listen and accept what their instructors pass on to them – involving very little interactive or persuasive skills. This rhetorical mode of teaching has, to a certain extent, failed to produce graduates with an inquisitive mind.

    Despite the many university hours spent on remedial work for those who lack these attributes, many have failed to acquire these decisive skills. Added to this set of symptoms is their inability to brave themselves to express their ideas and opinions of their own. Cut and paste, plagiarism and group thinking are the distinctive features seen in the work of our graduates.

    Some are so bad in English that they cannot even string a simple sentence together correctly. They do not even have the proper skills to paraphrase academic work of others. The best they resort to is copying or plagiarising what others have done. This is produced in class assignments as well as in theses up to the highest level.

    There are numerous PhD holders in the local universities who cannot even write a paragraph of original stuff intelligibly and speak English legibly and yet they are teaching our graduates using this medium of instruction. They seldom go beyond the stuff they have copiously written in their dissertations to improve themselves. One wonders how, in the first place, they managed to get through their studies.

    To add salt to injury, void of quality papers and publications, these academics are given the title of ‘professor’ merely to meet the number. All this nonsense is a telling sign that the quality of our education is at stake.

    Many of our students are just exceptionally good at rote learning but not qualitative learning. They are apt to remembering notes and regurgitating them during exams. They are good at rehearsing facts but lack the skills to apply knowledge and think from out of the ordinary view points on any subject. This is, unfortunately, the setback in our education system and it is hard for students to avoid it.

    These students, on the other hand, are seldom rewarded for their ability to think creatively or for their unconventional standpoints. There is a void of meaningful engagement analysis, independence of thought and support for students to think individually.

    The education system should reward those who are truly au fait, ingenious and inspired and not those who wholly subscribe to the convention of copying, plagiarising and memorising notes from books and then churning them out in paper assignments and exams just to earn a degree.

    Those teaching these graduates should have ample and indubitable experience and qualifications that are at par with those in the developed world and some developing countries. Employ them based on true capability before our education system becomes a laughing stock, even among the many other progressive developing countries in our region.

  2. Jee Says:
    September 13th, 2006 at 12:04 pm

    Nice article, it’s more comprehensive than mine.

    “To add salt to injury, void of quality papers and publications, these academics are given the title of ‘professor’ merely to meet the number. All this nonsense is a telling sign that the quality of our education is at stake.”

    This summed up a lot of things, our higher education institutions seem eager to move towards quantity rather than quality in terms of PhD or professorship.. and that’s worrying.

  3. ade Says:
    September 14th, 2006 at 6:05 am

    I’ve had lecturers with PhDs too and I swear, they were the most arrogant sons of b*tches ever.

  4. Jee Says:
    September 14th, 2006 at 10:33 am

    ade.. perhaps I was luckier then, haven’t seen too much of lecturers with that kind of attitude.

  5. Kean Jin, Lim Says:
    September 15th, 2006 at 10:32 pm

    another “Malaysia BOLEH” project? “We have a lot of PhD degree holders in our universities, this is Dr. XYZ……”

  6. Jee Says:
    September 15th, 2006 at 11:42 pm

    KJ.. we do need better qualified lecturers. I don’t mind seeing more PhD holders teaching in unis, just that I hope the government are not over obsessed with the idea and ignore the quality for the sake of quantity.

  7. Kean Jin, Lim Says:
    September 21st, 2006 at 2:15 am

    Jee, you know well Malaysia. They like to play figures game. Getting more PhD holders are good, as you said the quality is more important. I really concern about the result? Taxpayers money going to spend. Can we get what we really want in our universities in return? Cross our fingers.

  8. Jee Says:
    September 21st, 2006 at 11:06 am

    Malaysia government kiasu, will always try to boost things by figures.. and short sighted as time.

    All our Higher Education Minister knows is to apologize for things that is not his matter.. it sux when the cabinets members are busy playing politics and not focusing on their jobs.

  9. nabil mustafa Says:
    April 16th, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    I am looking for a recent Ph.D graduate, in 2004 or 2005 by the name of Wai Han Ho also goes by Shelen Ho. She is a Malaysian citizen and graduated with an MBA from England and her Ph.D in Malaysia.

    Any suggestions as to where to look, i.e. associations, management societies??

    She worked as a consultant for a short while.
    Thank You

  10. Jee Says:
    April 16th, 2007 at 2:47 pm

    nabil… no idea.

  11. Michelle Says:
    March 17th, 2008 at 11:30 am

    Assuming we are talking about the same Dr Shelen Ho, you can get her contact via http://www.ims-inti.com/ims/index.php?id=3

  12. anno Says:
    August 23rd, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    If the same Shelen Ho, then her latest update is she has left MIM-INTI and join their partner MIM

  13. Janet Says:
    July 27th, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    “I had lecturers that came into the class and spent more time to talk on politics than teaching”

    I agree with what you have commented. There was one time my friend attended an interview for lecturer in one of the universities in Sabah.

    During the interview, there was a few rounds of interviews run by a board of lecturers.

    My friend was quite shock on how they select their “future” lecturers. I am refering to business degree programmes.

    When they were conducting ‘mock teaching’ session, the lecturer was stop to lecture in English for Business and asked he was then asked to lecture in BM. I mean… this is University standard .They still emphasizing BM for an English business subject. So, because he can speak well in BM, He was asked to go through the second round of interview.

    In the second round of interview.. Guess what was the first question asked by the board of interviewer? Can you explain the difference between “educate” and “teaching”? I mean, business lecturer being asked this question.??? Ok….. maybe the board can argue that this was related topic.

    Guess what was the second question they asked? Can you explain to me whether Malaysia should adopt Mathematics in English or BM in education system? Oh my god, a business lecturer (in economics field) was asked these question? That is why I agree with your point. If a business lecturer can really debate on whether Malaysia should adopt BM or English in the education system, then he might as well become a politician.

    The sad true fact is, in order for any lecturer to go into local Universities , you need to be a politician first, only then you need to know how to lecture.

    This happened in Jan 2009.

    So, future lecturers… be a good debator before you go into local U!! There’s no need for you to know what is “opprtunity cost, scarcity… or even the meaning of inflation rates” Haha

  14. Danong Says:
    July 28th, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    I am a lecturer now and previously most of my time spent was in the corporate sector. As a new lecturer then, I have no problem in delivering my lectures while incorporating my experience into the academia. True, we all need to have vast experience and bring and share that experience into a learning and teaching mode for the benefit of our students. This I believe, a PhD is irrelevant.

  15. San San Says:
    August 16th, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    Absolutely agree with you!
    Even lecturers from educational faculties can’t convey the lectures effectively in my previous university. I was extremely disappointed with them, even though with years of experience as lecturers. Of course, in my opinion, not all lecturers in previous university are like that, but around 60%.
    Lecturers in Malaysia, hope that you can be good lecturers in future…

  16. Anonymous Says:
    September 22nd, 2009 at 3:04 am

    For a teacher / lecturer to be able to ‘deliver’ , he/she must has interest in the field he/she is in and has knowledge in that particular subject concern or interested to take the necessary steps to acquire knowledge regarding the new subject he/she is going to handle. In other words, one should not take up such post merely because being ‘requested’ to and doesn’t care about the outcome. For example a science teacher, not knowing how a certain game is to be played, should not handle P.E. lessons because such an attitude will have an impact on players to some extent. Please consider this as a reminder and not a redundant message.

  17. rosa Says:
    February 7th, 2010 at 1:38 am

    Jee,

    You wrote:

    “Not all PhD are equal in qualities
    A PhD from Harvard will value higher than a PhD from Universiti Malaya, probably a business degree from Harvard could worth more than a DBA from UM.

    We need quality PhDs, not just any PhDs. If you are graduated from local public universities, you’ll probably notice how easy it is for some people to obtain their post-graduate degree and their PhD later on.

    I have a friend that’s working on his PhD at USM, and he can still play online games for over 10 hours a day. He’s on track for graduation next year as PhD holder, at the age of 28 while spending most of his PhD research time playing PC games. He must be a genius.”

    A agree with you that a PhD holder is not necessarily the best lecturer.
    However, I don’t agree with the above generalization of local PhD graduates. Just because one of your friends is young and likes to play PC games the whole time, it does not mean that all PhDs from local universities are not of good quality. (It could be one of his ways of letting his steam of, who knows.)

    I am not sure what faculty your playful friend is from, but most PhD students, from local and overseas universities, have to face a lot of problems relating to their research and writing. You see, most people (especially those who don’t have PhD) don’t realize how difficult it is to complete one’s thesis and obtain a PhD. Some of these problems were not caused by them and were beyond their control, but that’s a whole different issue.

    By the way, I hope your English has improved by now.

  18. agreed with rosa Says:
    October 12th, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    rosa, very well said :)

  19. Anonymous Lim Says:
    February 16th, 2012 at 9:48 am

    Agree with rosa too.

    Those who have no idea of what PhD is all about thinks that doing a PhD is very simple.

    Anyway, I don’t really know how your friend was able to play PC games for 10 hours a day while doing his PhD.

    Just because of one bad apple, you can’t generalise this to all other local PhD students. Why don’t you try to do a PhD locally and see how tough it is. In fact, doing a PhD in Malaysia (based on the UK system) is even more tougher compared to other Universities, especially in the US (based on the US system).

    You can ask those who PhD holders who graduated from the US and those who graduated from a British system. You can hear the difference from them.


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