UM students fume over charges for extra Internet use after federal budget cut

Universiti Malaya plans to cap Internet quota to 5GB per student per month, and impose a surcharge should the student require more Internet usage, according to UM Association Youth (Umany) chairman Ho Chi Yang. — File pic
Universiti Malaya plans to cap Internet quota to 5GB per student per month, and impose a surcharge should the student require more Internet usage, according to UM Association Youth (Umany) chairman Ho Chi Yang. — File pic

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PETALING JAYA, Dec 14 — Universiti Malaya (UM) students complained today against plans by the institution to set Internet quotas and charge for additional usage, a move proposed after Putrajaya slashed allocations for the higher education sector in Budget 2016.

According to UM Association Youth (Umany) chairman Ho Chi Yang, the university plans to cap Internet quota to 5GB per student per month, and impose a surcharge should the student require more Internet usage.

Students are currently given unlimited quota for Internet use on campus.

“How is 5GB a month sufficient for the students? Almost 80 per cent of our studies are based on the Internet.

“Capping the Internet usage kind of of limits our effort to do better in our studies,” he said when contacted today.

In Budget 2016 tabled in October by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the allocation for higher education next year was trimmed by RM2.4 billion from RM15.785 billion this year to RM13.378 billion.

UM was the hardest hit and will have its allocation cut by 27 per cent for next year, losing over RM175 million from the RM638 million it was given this year. The university will only receive RM463 million after the budget cut.

Asked what he plans to do next, Ho said he hopes to discuss the matter with the university management tomorrow.

“I am not sure if the meeting is going to happen or not but I am hoping to see a good outcome after speaking with the university,” he said, adding that he has no plans yet to bring the matter to the higher authorities.

He also compared the university’s predicament with Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia (UIAM), and claimed that fees in UIAM have increased drastically.

He claimed that there has been a more than 300 per cent increase in the Welfare Fund fee (Yuran Dana Kebajikan) for 2014 compared to 2013.

“The increase at universities is evident at UM and UIAM. I hope the government would do something to ensure it does not burden the future leaders of the country,” Ho said.

UM vice-chancellor Professor Datuk Dr Mohd Amin Jalaludin has reportedly said that the university has alternative revenue sources of revenue that would help it address its smaller allocation in Budget 2016.

Mohd Amin said the university obtains revenue through its subsidiaries operating joint-ventures between public and private institutions, including International University of Malaya Wales (IUMW) and University of Malaya Centre for Continuing Education (UMCCed) and University of Malaya Specialist Centre (UMSC).

The management, he said, has also started to invest “conservatively” in a few lucrative sectors, namely in the plantation business towards the aim of being self-sustaining in the near future, he added.

Currently, 30 per cent of UM’s operating expenditure is funded by its business interests.

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