Saturday, 12 January 2008

MUST READ ! Malaysian Lecturers on a Ph.D Gravy Train at Malaysian Tax Payers' Expense

From Malaysiakini: Read here Letter to Editor by "Malaysian Taxpayer"

Excerpts: Read here for more

"....The government in the 2008 Budget (will) DOUBLE the cost of living allowances for students in countries like the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

The Higher Education Ministry spends at least RM500,000 (half a Million Ringgit) on a lecturer to do his/her PhD overseas.

The Ministry is NOT spending taxpayers’ money wisely... by sending any Tom, Dick and Harry overseas when they do NOT have the aptitude to succeed.

The current scenario is dismal.

Substandard local universities grant DOUBLE AWARDS - by giving the PhD students a FULL salary, a FULL scholarship and then a DOUBLE bonus (eg. a three-fold increment in their salary and a PROMOTION from DS45 to DS520 WITHOUT even considering whether or not these lecturers possess that ‘mutu istimewa’ (special quality) as stipulated in the promotion circular.

It is unfair to send the academically incompetent lecturers when many young, talented and academically bright Malaysians can be groomed to be future first-class lecturers who will in turn, transform the universities in which they serve into world-class universities.

  1. From past records, many lecturers who were sent overseas came home WITHOUT a PhD (even though most of them proudly came home with a MERCEDES ).

    Lecturers must prove their academic competency before they are funded by taxpayers’ money to go overseas.

    They must have published at least one journal article in English on their own accord and not on a ‘Ali Baba’ hitchhiking basis.

    Our taxpayers’ money will definitely go down the drain if these lecturers have problems in writing their theses in English and subsequently come home empty- handed (I mean, without a PhD).
  2. Almost all of these lecturers find themselves a job (or even jobs) while studying despite the two-fold or even ten-fold increase in their cost of living allowance.
    I know a few lecturers who are currently working in the UK, some part-time while others even full-time.

    They told me that it is perfectly fine to NOT complete their studies within the stipulated three-year period as the Higher Education Ministry will surely grant them a full-salary, six-month extension and MORE subsequent extensions.

    Aren’t these lecturers taking advantage of taxpayers’ money?

    Self-funded PhD candidates will try to complete their studies within the SHORTEST time possible while government-funded (or rather, taxpayers-funded) candidates will try to complete theirs in the LONGEST possible time!

    If they are unable to complete their studies within the stipulated three-year period, direct them to come home and not waste any more taxpayers’ money.
  3. The Higher Education Ministry should monitor these ‘privileged lecturers’ while they are overseas to ensure that they fully concentrate on their studies rather than working and make some money on the side (possibly to buy a Mercedes).

  4. Why must the Higher Education Ministry send so many of these lecturers overseas when they can pursue similar courses at our local higher institutions at a fraction of the cost?
    Is it that our LOCAL universities have NO ‘class’ at all ?
  5. Despite the ‘40-years-old ruling’, our universities are still sending their academic staff who have already passed the 40-year-old age limit to pursue their studies locally or overseas on a full-pay full-scholarship.

    It is NOT a good investment considering the huge cost and the number of years they are able to contribute upon their return from the three-year doctoral venture.
  6. I have heard about lecturers who bring their family members overseas (of course, their whole family’s flight tickets are bought on taxpayers’ money) and then send their family members home SECRETLY so that they can continue to enjoy or receive the full family allowances.

    (The Government) should take disciplinary action against lecturers who claim family allowances when their families are actually residing in Malaysia.

    This is blatant cheating of the (Malaysian) taxpayer.

    The Higher Education Ministry staff are incompetent in their monitoring of such lecturers.

    The ACA (should) bring these lecturers to justice.
  7. Stop the rhetoric of ‘internal breeding’ as an excuse to send lecturers elsewhere for a PhD.
    They can always do a PhD in their respective (local) universities under the supervision of an academically-capable supervisor.
Academically Incompetent Lecturers Got Promoted

Lecturers were promoted despite their poor academic ability and a no-substance curriculum vitae, not even publishing in any national or regional journal articles, let alone international ones.

Only substandard universities would consider promoting lecturers on the basis of one’s contribution in a MANAGERIAL position and a FEW conference proceedings (these were NOT even peer reviewed and many lecturers share conference proceedings!).

In order to be at par with world-class universities, terms for Higher Education Ministry scholarships should be as firm and stringent as other prestigious scholarships.

Then there will be no hanky-panky where a lecturer deliberately delays his/her thesis submission so as to gain extra mileage in getting full-pay full-scholarship extension.


  • RM1.2bil Fund for PhD Studies (July 2006): Read here for more

  • "... There are 3 schemes which academics can apply to for the purposes of obtaining funds to pursue their doctorates:

    1. Skim Latihan Akademik Bumiputera (SLAB)
      SLAB is exclusive scheme for BUMIPUTRAS ONLY. This is the preferred choice by local universities and is commonly found advertised in local newspapers.
    2. Academic Staff Higher Education Scheme (ASHES)
      ASHES is for current lecturers who have given at least 3 years (teaching) service at university.
    3. Academic Staff Training Scheme (ASTS)

    ASTS is open for all. Anyone with good first degree CGPA (>3.00) is eligible.

    Applicants are not required to have contributed academically (e.g teaching) when applying for this scheme.

    ASHES and ASTS are the routes available for a NON-bumiputera interested in securing financial assitance and joining the local university as academic staff.

    It is understood that NON-bumiputeras form only approximately 10% of ASTS receipients.

    What is however, damning about the system is the injustice meted out to non-bumiputera receipients of the ASTS scheme, particularly for overseas programmes.
    For overseas funding:
  • a Bumiputera recipient under ASTS receive full financial assistance (tuition fee, living costs, housing-family-book-thesis-winter allowances).

  • A NON-bumiputra will receive everything EXCEPT the tuition fee (this is the recent tweak of sponsorship agreement). Non bumiputras will have to seek funding elsewhere (which do not has any bonding).
  • All candidates are however bonded to the relevant academic institutions for the same period of time, irrespective of the amount sponsored.

    The question goes beyond just a matter of blatant racial discrimination:-
  • Given that these non-bumiputera candidates will have to return to their respective Malaysian universities to contribute their knowledge, wisdom and expertise to the younger local Malaysians - who will include a large majority of bumiputera students, is the policy of disadvantaging non-bumiputeras here, a clear case of cutting of ones own nose to spite ones face?

  • By discouraging talented non-bumiputeras from pursuing further education at reputed institutions overseas, doesn't it then result in fewer qualified lecturers for the Malaysian public universities, which will then retard the local universities' abilities to provide quality education for our local undergraduates, who are largely (more than 65%) bumiputeras anyway?
  • What may be regarded as a discriminatory affirmative action policy to support the "weaker" majority ethnic group in the country is paradoxically and ironically, at the end of the day, resulting in the very objectives of the policy not being met.

    By denying the benefit to a few non-bumiputeras from further education, the higher education policy is in effect denying the delivery of better quality education to thousands of bumiputeras over the years. The impact cannot be insignificant...."
  • Ph.D Scholarships for Local Universities (July 2006): Read here for more
  • "... There (are) differences between SLAB, ASHES and ACTS. Here are some of my initial findings.

    1. ... The SLAB scheme is ONLY open to Bumiputeras. The funding for the SLAB scheme comes from JPA (Public Service Dept) which is more readily available compared to a university's internal funding resources.

      What this means is that lecturers who apply for the SLAB scheme, in all likelihood, will have to wait a SHORTER period of time before being sent overseas to do their PhDs.

    2. ASHES and / or ACTS or "Skim Hadiah Latihan Cuti Belajar": Funding comes from the sending university and it includes tuition fees (as well as living expenses and salary).

      I still have questions in regards to the distribution mechanism both between and within our local universities.

      How do universities decide on who gets sponsorship internally? Which departments and who within these departments should be sponsored?

      The local universities don't distinguish between the process to obtain US versus non-US PhDs.
    3. PhDs in the US usually take upwards of 5 years while those in the UK and Australia take upwards of only 3 years. The reason is that coursework is a required component in the US system while this is not so in the UK and Australia (although this is beginning to change for selected courses in selected universities).

      The PhD scholarships from the local universities are only for 3 years with a 6 month extension possible upon request. This makes life very difficult for those pursuing their PhDs in the US (which is why many lecturers opt to go to the UK and Australia instead) and they usually have to scrounge for alternative sources of funding for the remaining 1 1/2 to 2 years.

  • USM PhD scholarships (February 2007) :Read here for more
  • "...Universiti Sains Malaysia cordially invites suitably qualified candidates to apply for the USM Academic Staff Training Scheme (ASTS) in all areas of studies with the exception of Law.

    Selected candidates will be sponsored by the Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia and USM to further their studies to the Master’s and PhD levels at an institution recognized by the Public Services Department, Malaysia. Upon completion of their PhD studies, they will serve as lecturers at USM.


    Tuition Fees, Subsistence Allowance for candidate and family (if applicable), Cost of Living Allowance (depending on the place of study), Return Airfare, Relocation Allowance, Winter Apparel Allowance (if applicable), Book Allowance, Equipment Allowance, Thesis Allowance, Final Year Allowance, Accommodation Allowance


    1. Bachelor’s Degree (with a CGPA of 3.0 and above), or a Master’s Degree;
    2. Candidates in the final year of their Bachelor’s or Master’s programs may also apply;
    3. The maximum age for candidates applying to pursue both their Master’s and PhD studies is 30,
    while that for PhD studies is 38;
    4. Candidates and parents must be Malaysian citizens;
    5. Candidates must bring along original and certified copies of academic certificates and transcripts when they attend the selection interview.

    Please note that degrees must be conferred by an institution recognized by the Public Services Department, Malaysia.

    For further details, please contact us at
    Tel: + 604 653 3366 or +604 653 3295
    Email: or
    Web Site:

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