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Call for an immediate RM219
million fund from the development allocations for parliamentary
constituencies to be solely devoted to help needy students with good results
but unable to get IPTA places to further their higher education
The case that I had highlighted in my blog of the student who scored 3As and 1B, obtained Band 6 for MUET, participated actively in co-corriculum since junior secondary school as well as scoring 9 1As and 1 3B in SPM with an 1A in GCE O Level but was not offered a place in the public universities is an instance of the many injustices from this year’s public university intake.
There are injustices not only to the 23,142 qualified students who had not been offered places in the public universities, there are also injustices to many of the 63,158 successful applicants in the courses that they had been offered.
The case of the student who was not offered his first choice of studying mechanical engineering at Universiti Malaya, although he should have close to 100 marks, is one case in point.
As the student, C.Y.P from Malacca, wrote to The Star “First choice in Singapore, not here” yesterday:
“As far as I know, under the new system, a student will get a maximum of 90 marks for academic grades and 10 marks for co-curriculum grades.
“I am a student with a CGPA score of 4.0 which is worth 90 marks.
“Now, according to Higher Education Management Department director-general Prof Datuk Dr Hassan Said, that as a national service trainee, I will receive another six points.
“With both added together, I have already obtained 96 marks, excluding my extra co-curricular activities during my school days.
“I was the president of my school computer club and vice-president of the Leo Club. I am sure that would have gained me an extra few points.”
He was “a bit perplexed” as to why he was not offered his first choice of studying mechanical engineering at Universiti Malaya. Instead he was offered environmental engineering which was his fourth choice.
Fortunately, he has something to fall back on. He was offered his first choice by both the National University of Singapore and the Nanyang Technological University.
Not only that. He was given a scholarship to study in Singapore, too.
“At first, I was reluctant to accept any of the offers by the Singapore universities as I thought I had a responsibility to serve my country.
“Moreover, the Government has been working hard in addressing our country's brain drain problem.
“However, after our local university's rejection of my first choice, I have decided to further my studies in Singapore.
“I hope the Government will do more at this level to ensure that talented students, our future professionals, will not flock to other countries. Asking overseas professionals to return is just a short-term solution. We need to ensure that future professionals will be in Malaysia to achieve Vision 2020.”
C.Y.P’s case is a double indictment of the failures of the higher education system and policy in human resource development and nation-building.
It is another sombre reminder that the pledge of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in Parliament when presenting the Ninth Malaysia Plan on 31st March that the government is committed to the fundamental philosophy to nurture a citizenry with “First Class Mentality” as “high quality human capital has become a necessity not merely a luxury” are still mere empty words and cannot be translated into action.
It is also sombre reminder that a year before Malaysia’s half-a-century of nationhood in 2007, the nation-building process of creating a united nation out of diverse races, languages, cultures and religions is still beset with a catalogue of obstacles – not least of which, from a higher education policy and system which reminds Malaysians of their differences rather than unity and commonness as citizenry of the same nation.
To address the unhappiness, grievances and sense of injustices at this year’s university intake, I wish to make four proposals:
· Full transparency of the entire university student intake process, including cut-off points for each course in each university;
· Review of the allocation of 10 per cent of the assessment for co-curriculum involvement, in particular the highly debatable and controversial allotment of six points for national service when it is available for only a small percentage of youngsters in the relevant age-group.
· Establishment of Parliament Select Committee on Higher Education to focus and specialize on issues of tertiary education, including reviewing the public university student intake process to ensure that it is fair, just, meritocratic and serves the dual purpose of nation-building and nurturing high-quality human capital;
Beginning this year, the Prime Minister’s Office is allocating RM2 million as development funding for each parliamentary constituency. I am suggesting that RM1 million for each constituency should be set aside specifically to ensure that needy students with good results are not denied higher education opportunities, with first priority for eligible students from each constituency for the million-ringgit allocation before they are made available to eligible students from other constituencies.
In this manner, there will be a ready and immediate fund of RM219 million which will be able to ensure that the 23,142 qualified students who have not been offered places in public universities will not be denied higher education opportunities because of economic grounds.
I call on Barisan Nasional MPs to support this proposal for the setting up of a RM219 million fund with RM1 million each set aside from the constituency development allocations.
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP
Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman