Malaysia is on the verge of an education crisis as the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) is having a cash flow problem in financing students pursuing tertiary learning, PKR lawmaker Rafizi Ramli claimed today.
Citing partial 2015 data, the Pandan MP asserted that PTPTN had cut its approval and distribution of study loans compared to the amount allocated five years prior.
“The total new education funds approved by PTPTN for 2015 (approximately RM2 billion) is one-third the amount approved by PTPTN for 2010 (approximately RM6 billion).
“If this is true, it means that the number of students who did not receive educational funding whether at public institutes of higher learning or private for the year 2015 and till now is rising because if in 2010 the amount needed to finance new loans was RM6 billion, certainly the amount for 2015 would be far higher than that,” he said in a statement.
He cited data provided by Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Mary Yap in her parliamentary reply dated November 19, 2015, which showed the approved and distributed funds for the first nine months of that year amounted to RM2.08 billion.
Rafizi noted too that PTPTN has been taking “drastic action” to recoup loans given out to students listing a blacklist of borrowers, the monthly automatic deduction of salaries from graduates who have gained employment and limiting full funding to students from recipient families of the government’s cash incentive BR1M.
Such actions, he said “show PTPTN is facing a cash flow crisis”.
“Because the higher education system in this country (public and private) is largely dependent on PTPTN, its failure to finance a drastic number of students (one-third in 2015 compared to 2010) means the current higher education system is at a critical point,” he said.
Rafizi who is also PKR secretary-general pushed again his proposal for free tertiary education for all, particularly those studying for their first degree, which he insisted be undertaken locally instead of abroad.
He said that unless the higher education funding model was reformed, PTPTN which he noted is the main financial platform for students, faces a severe financial crisis in the near future.
He added that he will provide a more detailed analysis of his assertion soon.
Last week, some 150 Malaysian medical and dentistry students in Egypt were recently reported to have RM4.5 million in arrears, blaming their financial woes on the ringgit’s nearly 25 per cent drop in value versus the US dollar since 2014 has made the fees dearer.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh was reported telling the Dewan Negara on April 22 that an outstanding amount of RM5.4 billion in PTPTN loans by 661,262 borrowers remain unpaid as of February 29.
But he also said PTPTN exceeded its target of RM750 million last year and collected RM1.4 billion in repayments and expected this year’s collection to reach RM2 billion.
PTPTN chairman Datuk Shamsul Anuar Nasarah reportedly said on April 24 that 1.25 million borrowers who defaulted on the study loans have been listed in the Central Credit Reference Information System, adding that those with poor track records may face tougher rules to gain credit cards and other loans.
The Malay Mail Online