KUALA LUMPUR, May 20 — Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) vice-chancellor Datuk Shahrin Sahib @ Sahibuddin said that about 60 per cent or 114,000 out of the 190,000 students in the university are from the B40 group.

Shahrin said the number of the B40 group has increased up to 20 per cent since the Covid-19 pandemic which gave a new challenge to the university in playing its role as a provider of higher education to Malays and Bumiputeras, Utusan Malaysia reported.

He explained that the increase of the B40 household students was not attributed to new entries, but from existing students, who were previously in the M40 household income group, but lost their source of income during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He pointed out that the university is currently facing paradoxical challenges where there is no accurate solution to ensuring graduates can improve their economic situation.

Advertisement

“Today’s era is a paradox, no matter what you do, it’s not necessarily right. UiTM student profile in our current system shows B40 is about 59.9 per cent. The majority of our students are from the B40 group. Their family household income is below RM5,000.

“What is also a phenomenon is that there are 28 per cent of T20 students. This shows that there are Malays who have come out of the economic crisis, they are growing up (having children studying at university), so where is the issue? The issue is M40.

“In our data, M40 is only 12 per cent. In a brief analysis, during Covid-19, when the private sector made reductions in workers, many of the Malays involved were from the M40 group, who were affected.

Advertisement

“So they (family) are the senior managers, assistant general managers, senior engineers who lose their jobs and what do they end up doing? They work as an e-hailing driver to get back into the workforce. But despite that, the data from our student system shows that the groups are still struggling.

“So this is why the group, which originally M40, fell into the B40 category, thus the 40 per cent increase to 60 per cent,” he was quoted as saying.

Shahrin said that the National Statistics Department (DOSM) shows the median household in rural areas for the Malay and Bumiputera groups last year was at a rate of six million with a household income of about RM4,000 and below.

Meanwhile, for the same group in the city, he said their median household income is RM6,800 and below, but is still considered B40 due to the pressure of salary requirements in the city such as the payment of tolls and petrol.

He pointed out that the 190,000 students from UiTM contribute almost one-fifth of the total number of students in public and private universities in this country which is about one million.

He said that the graduate tracking study carried out last year showed that about 60 per cent of the UiTM graduates can successfully enter into workforce.

He also added that another challenge students and graduates have to go through today is the ability to leave old knowledge that has become a habit and learn new knowledge.

“Knowledge is about learning new things and the current challenge that was described as a paradox earlier, they need to have the ability to learn continuously.

“Not only that, they have to learn to unlearn, they have to know how to discard old knowledge and add new knowledge. Otherwise, they will follow the old way.

“Now it’s not about reskilling anymore, for example in university a student learns how to repair petrol engines, but when he goes out he has to repair electric cars (EV).

“He can’t hold on to petrol engine knowledge alone, he has to leave that knowledge and learn EVs as well. But the foundation of engineering (studied at the university) will remain there,” he was quoted as saying.