PUTRAJAYA, May 6 — The matriculation programme was intended to help low-performing Malays enter local public universities, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad admitted today.

However, he added that clamour over the “back door” method to increase university intake is growing even among Malaysians of other ethnicities after the government decided to open it.

“We decided to have matriculation classes because we found Malays did not take Higher School Certificate and cannot enter university. So we provided a back door for them. It was entirely meant as a back door for the Malays,” said Dr Mahathir, who served as education minister in the 1970s.

The Higher School Certificate is now called Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) and taken by Form Six students.


The prime minister said there was no issue previously of the lack of places in the programme for non-Malays, but has been played up by certain quarters following the expansion announced by Education Minister Maszlee Malik last month.

“It is simply because they don’t do much better that we had to create matriculation for the Malays,” he said, in reply to complaints that some non-Malay students are not getting matriculation spots despite performing better in studies.

“So now we’ve agreed to also give to non-Malays. The idea of increasing Malay students in universities by matriculation is nullified because the Chinese and Indians also go by back door, and they’re not satisfied.”


On April 24, Maszlee announced his ministry will retain the 90 per cent Bumiputra quota for matriculation programmes while increasing the number of student intake by 60 per cent from 25,00 to 40,000 students—including 4,000 seats for non-Bumiputra from 2,500.

He said the additional intake will be implemented to ensure the best-performing students have a higher chance to further their studies.

He said the Pakatan Harapan government saw a need to boost the number of science students, hence the increased student intake.

Prior to Maszlee’s announcement, PH allies had engaged in a verbal war with each other on whether the 90 per cent Bumiputra quota should be retained.

The matriculation programme is a one— or two-year university preparation programme that was first introduced in 1999, while its ethnic quota was implemented in 2005.