Whether under Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Harapan, the National Higher Education Fund Corp (PTPTN) keeps giving an academic coalition the cold shoulder, says Academic Freedom Movement committee member Sharan Raj.
One of the movement’s recommendations was for PTPTN to pay tuition fees based on the number of subjects a student takes.
SEMENYIH: Whether under Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Harapan, the National Higher Education Fund Corp (PTPTN) keeps giving an academic coalition the cold shoulder, says one committee member.
Whenever the Academic Freedom Movement gets close to approaching the agency to recommend more conducive loan repayment and fund disbursement systems, the meeting tends to get postponed.
Academic Freedom Movement committee member Sharan Raj said Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) presented its ideas to Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik in November 2018.
Sharan said the minister liked the recommendations and proposed the group present it to PTPTN.
“However, they’ve postponed the meeting four times now. It’s like they don’t want to listen to the stakeholders,” he alleged.
Academic Freedom Movement is a coalition of which PSM Youth is a member. Sharan is a PSM member.
One of the recommendations was for PTPTN to pay tuition fees based on the number of subjects a student takes.
He said this method would help students continue with their education even after their cumulative grade point average (CGPA) is brought down below 2.00 if they fail in some subjects.
Sharan said it is PTPTN’s policy not to pay students’ fees if their CGPA falls below 2.00.
However, if funds were disbursed based on new subjects students had to take, it would subsidise the total fees they would pay, thus allowing students to complete their education, especially in private institutions.
He said the current mechanism caused dropout rates to rise, as students could not afford the fees.
“They shouldn’t be faulted for failing because some have to juggle jobs and studies in order to help pay for their education,” he said during a Semenyih by-election campaign event on Monday (Feb 25).
He said PSM also recommended PTPTN not impose “Ujrah” or a penalty for every month a borrower defaults on payments.
He argued that the penalty would cause student loans, especially those who studied in private institutions, to balloon.
Meanwhile, PSM candidate Nik Aziz Afiq Abdul Aziz said the party vows to continue bringing up the issue regardless whether he wins the by-election or not.
“The fight will continue because education is everyone’s right and should not only be in the spotlight during elections,” he said.
The Semenyih by-election was called after Pakatan assemblyman Bakhtiar Mohd Nor died on Jan 11.
It will see a four-cornered fight between Nik Aziz, Pakatan’s Muhammad Aiman Zainali, Barisan’s Zakaria Hanafi, and independent candidate Kuan Chee Heng.
The Election Commission has set Feb 26 for early voting while polling will be held on March 2.