ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Malaysia needs to improve college-level education
Human capital lies at the heart of any high-income economy. It is key to Malaysia's transformation agenda. Not surprisingly, human resource development features prominently in the New Economic Model. Simply put, we will need to develop, attract and retain talent. Yet, the brain drain the cross-border migration of talent runs counter to the compelling domestic need for a more skilled, more innovative and more entrepreneurial labour force to be able to constantly add value.
Against this backdrop, the Malaysian experience is not unique. The World Bank estimates that in 2010, 215 million people lived outside their country of birth; 80 percent from developing nations, with 43 percent living in high-income advanced economies. Within Asia, the most pronounced brain drain is in Southeast Asia. Malaysia's brain drain is intensive; not because too many are leaving but because the skills base is narrow. This is compounded by the lack of compensating inflows. It is also concentrated in Singapore.
A large part of Malaysia's problem reflected the poor quality of graduates from public universities. It progressively eats into the quality of its human capital stock. Among its top research universities, only Universiti Malaya is among the top 200 (at 180th) in the UK Times Higher Education 2010-2011 rankings. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia was ranked 291; Universiti Sains Malaysia, 314; Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, 320; and Universiti Putra, 345. This poses a particular challenge.
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