He said universities here will have to focus on research and development initiatives to help them compete among their Malaysian counterparts and also other institutions of higher learning overseas.
“Universities are not just tasked with producing graduates these days. They must also have initiatives to compete with other institutions worldwide.
“If we conduct more researches, we will be able to do better in our ratings (internationally),” he said in a press conference at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) in Penang.
It was reported in September last year that Malaysian public universities had continued to fall in the QS World University rankings with only Universiti Malaya (UM) still in the top 200.
QS said Malaysian universities had not been producing enough cited research although they have quality academics and produced employable graduates.
Kamalanathan said for universities to conduct more researches and develop products, the private sector also has to play a part. He said partnerships between the universities and the industries will help generate more research and development activities.
The private sector, he said, can contribute by providing resources or funding for researches and to market the products developed. He cited USM’s halal vaccine, which has a huge potential in the halal industry, as an example.
“I believe this vaccine, a product developed in collaboration with the Finlay Institute, Cuba, to tackle meningococcal, will help make Malaysia become a halal hub if it is commercialised.
“It will also give a positive impact to USM’s reputation locally and internationally,” he said.
(Meningococcal disease refers to infections caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis, which is also termed meningococcus. It carries a high mortality rate if untreated.)
Apart from the vaccine, USM is currectly researching in the field of nano-optoelectronics like nano-sciences, nano-materials, nano-fabrication and nano-engineering.
Kamalanathan was having a one-day working visit to USM, where he was briefed on the university’s detailed Accelerated Programme for Excellence (Apex) phase two plans from 2014 to 2025. USM is the sole local public university granted the Apex status since 2008 as an initiative to transform higher education for a sustainable tomorrow.
Kamalanathan said he was impressed with the plans presented to him, as the initiatives that cover areas from student enrolment to producing researches and publications, as well as nation-building, will see USM improve its global standing. Vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Omar Osman said USM had been active in research work since 2008.
He said USM managed to patent 247 reseach products locally and internationally, including four industrial designs that have an accumulated revenue of RM228 million.
“We also have about 500 Masters and doctorate students getting funding from the private sector and the government for their research-based programmes,” he said.