by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, April 13, 1993:
Cabinet tomorrow should review the Education Ministry decision to recruit fewer students into the local universities this year.
DAP calls on Cabinet meeting tomorrow to review the Education Ministry decision to recruit fewer students into the local universities this year.
This retrogressive decision by the Education Ministry was announced by the Deputy Education Minister, Dr. Fong Chan Onn, over the weekend on the ground of shortage of lecturers.
He said the most seriously affected was Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM), which would cut its intake to 1,700 students for the new academic year. Last year, the UUM increased its student intake to 2,500 from 1,540 in the previous year.
When Universiti Utara Malaysia first announced that it would cut its intake a month ago, the Deputy Education Minister, Dr. Leo Michael Toyad said that the other five local universities would take in more students for the 1993/94 year to make up for the UUM’s reduction. He said the Ministry would make adjustments to ensure that the shortfall was absorbed by the other universities so that the total student intake would not be affected.
What was happened to the Education Ministry’s plan to ensure that there would not be a reduction in the total intake of local university students for the coming academic year?
This year, the eighth Malaysia university, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS), will begin operation with the initial batch of 200 students.
However Malaysia seems to be in the peculiar position where fewer university students are recruited while there are more universities.
This is against the National Development Policy, the second Outline Perspective Plan 1991 – 2000 and the Sixth Malaysia Plan which planned for a substantial intake into the tertiary level education to enable Malaysia to achieve Vision 2020 of becoming a fully developed nation.
As the Education Ministry is putting the clock backwardsin the important sector of human resource development, the Cabinet should intervene in the matter at its meeting tomorrow.
University education had been facing a crisis for quite sometime, and this was why Parliamentarians as well as academicians had been calling for over a decade for a full-scale inquiry into university education in the country – dealing in particular with the problems of academic standards and excellence, salary and conditions of service of university lectures, and academic freedom in local universities.
The Cabinet should realistically grapple with the university crisis in Malaysia. Just relaxing conditions for universities to recruit foreign lecturers is not a sufficient solution to the university crisis. Even more important and urgent is for the Cabinet to introduce a package of measures which would provide the incentives to encourage top-brain Malaysians to remain in the universities as academicians and lecturers to educate ‘the brightest and the best’ among the young generation of Malaysians.