KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 24 — A 16.5 per cent reduction in allocations to institutions of higher learning in Budget 2016 may cause fees to increase by as much as 20 per cent next year, PKR’s Sim Tze Tsin asserted today.
According to Sim, the RM1.44 billion reduction in funds will affect all but one of the country's public universities, with the University of Malaya (UM) — the country’s oldest university — set to be hardest hit.
UM 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. UiTM will also see its current RM2.62 billion allocation fall to RM1.99 billion.
“We predict university fees will be raised next year. This will affect 534,569 students in public institutions of higher learning.
“The percentage increase in fees is projected to be in the range of 20 per cent to support the deficits at such institutions,” the Bayan Baru MP said in a statement today.
Beyond heftier fees, Sim also predicted that universities will also raise charges for other services including, but not limited to, dormitory fees, registration fees and services fees.
The expected rise in fees while also be compounded by the reduction in obtainable study loans from the Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN), he added.
Sim pointed out that the cut in funding for higher education institutions was now accelerating, after the 12.4 per cent or RM1.05 billion reduction in Budget 2015 versus the year before.
The PKR lawmaker then warned the ruling Barisan Nasional administration to expect a backlash from the country’s youth over its decision to reduce funding for education, which he said should be made a priority by any responsible administration.
Separately, DAP MP Zairil Khir Johari questioned how Putrajaya intends to transform Malaysian universities into “world-class” institutions as it previously claimed, given the “massive cut” in funding for public education.
“Last year, Minister of Higher Education Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh boasted that our universities are on track to becoming ‘world-class,’ while making the grand claim that some of our institutions of higher learning are on par with the likes of Oxford University.
“With the top universities having their budgets slashed by up to 27 per cent, how will the ambition of having world-class universities materialise?” the Bukit Bendera MP said.
Putrajaya tabled its 19th consecutive deficit Budget yesterday, but aims to reduce its chronic overspending to 3.1 per cent of GDP from the expected 3.2 per cent this year despite falling revenue.
* A previous version of this article erroneously stated Steven Sim as the Bayan Baru MP. The article has since been corrected.