When universities got their budgets slashed in the 2016 Budget, one of the most affected were a majority of students who depended on scholarships to further their studies in the higher education institutions.
Some had to even opt for crowd funding when the education ministry made a move to cut back on government scholarships.
This situation looks like it is going to get worse especially when the 2017 Budget showed that the universities will be facing more budget cuts.
Says Minister of Higher Education Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh the budget cuts is a pre-planned move where budgets were to be cut in stages.
“This is part of the blueprint (Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013-2025), it is stated in there so it is not a surprise.
“Now the dependence is between 70% to 90%,” he says.
Idris adds that to counter the reduction in allocations, university alumnis could play a role in assisting their universities. He also said it was time universities also maximised the use of their assets.
A total of RM250 million was allocated to the Higher Education Ministry in Budget 2017 tabled last Friday.
“If in any case, I am excited for the students. With the announcement that there would be an upgrade in the Internet speed students can now do their research and assignments more efficiently.
“This is a very good news for all students who are currently pursuing their studies in universities and colleges,” he adds.
Meanwhile, Penang Institute Director Steven Sim says the cuts this year faced by universities is the second time since last year’s budget announcement.
“There is no correlation between spending cut and improved quality. But there’s correlation between more autonomy and improved education quality. So why not autonomy?”
“At a difficult time when graduates are asked to be Uber drivers and ‘nasi lemak’ sellers, why not invest in education to improve skills and employability?
“This is second round of reduction from last year,” says Sim.
Previously when asked about the budget for higher education ministry, Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said the ministry said that they can manage and she believes that they can.
“The education ministry one particular year, I think the year before the last general election, was given 38 billion compared to the previous year of 54 billion.
“The reason given that year was that they needed the money for general election. That was a huge gap,” she said.
It only means that there have been so much excess and even with a leaner budget they can manage.
“If they can mange by being lean, it probably meant that they just had to feed the rent seekers and cronies less.
“It’s good because you are getting more effective spending. Enough of these cronies getting the contracts, and cutting out the middle men,” she adds.
She pointed out that some of the locals do take a year out and work to pay for their studies. But that is normal these days to take a gap year.
If the education ministry could work with a lower budget, it makes you wonder where did the excess go?
“It’s time to sit back and review all this spending and see where the savings can be done.
“On the other hand, if ministries can function on a lean budget, the benefit should fall back on the people in terms of lower cost of living,” Noor Azimah.
Source : Soo Wern Jun@The Heat Malaysia Online