Former Johor MB says proposed Universiti Johor not necessary, urges govt to rethink

Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin speaks during a press conference at Johor State Umno liaison office, May 10, 2018. ― Picture by Hari Anggara
Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin speaks during a press conference at Johor State Umno liaison office, May 10, 2018. ― Picture by Hari Anggara

JOHOR BARU, Jan 8 — Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin today suggested that the Johor state government should review the proposed setting up of Universiti Johor.

He said this was because in light of the current economic situation, the high cost involved will burden the state government.

He said funding the development of a university is not a small task, especially in attracting academic staff of calibre and advanced infrastructure development.

“Based on the Johor Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto, the setting-up of Universiti Johor will be a difficult task because it will burden the state government as the federal government will not finance the establishment of the new university due to the enormous financial constraints,” said Mohamed Khaled in a statement today.

He added that the higher education landscape in Malaysia will face a huge challenge for sustainability, taking into account the slow Malaysian economy and the reduced number of international student enrolment.

Yesterday, Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik led a delegation from the ministry to discuss with the state government over the development of Universiti Johor in Kota Iskandar.

The setting-up of Universiti Johor is among the pledges made by Johor PH in its election manifesto for the 14th general election.

Mohamed Khaled explained that in the long term the university will operate with financial constraints due to limited tax resources.

He said this will not only burden the operation of the university, but its development, since the fees charged are not as high as it’s a state-owned university.

“In addition, there are already various higher education institutions that are not only among the best in the country but are also world’s leading ones and they are located in Johor.

“The state consists of several public, private, offshore campuses, international universities and various tertiary education institutions.

“Establishing a university dedicated to Johor with very limited degrees is not very strategic to the competitiveness of the state,” said Khaled, in reference to the proposed Universiti Johor’s courses on offer.

The 60-year-old former Johor mentri besar said when he was higher education minister, it was the ministry’s stand to discourage the establishment of public universities or private universities under the state government.

“This is because we have a large number of public universities that are extremely comprehensive and expensive to finance.

“The number of private universities is also growing rapidly as well as the entry of international branch universities into the country,” said Khaled, adding that the number of private higher education institutions in Johor has reached more than 33 and some are international branch universities.

Khaled said if the state government has the financial capabilities, his recommendation was for the state to get student placement at local higher education institutions or internships in overseas universities to accommodate Johor students.

He said the awarding of such scholarships is more strategic because the eligible students are able to follow various fields they are interested in, besides studying at a more prominent university.