DAPSY: “Higher Education DG’s ‘no racial quota in varsity admission’ claim misled public”

DAPSY Varsity Affairs Bureau Director Ho Chi Yang has levelled criticism at Higher Education Ministry director-general Prof Datuk Dr Husaini Omar for playing with semantics with his claim that no racial quota is imposed in the country’s university admission system.

Yesterday (Sept 29) Husaini announced that his ministry received 115,477 applications for admission into the country’s 20 public universities this year.

He also gave assurance that UPUOnline’s automatic placement system involves “no human touch” and therefore negated any possibility for students to “use cables” – a colloquial term for the use of personal connections such as in nepotism or favouritism.

On this matter DAPSY’s Ho said Husaini’s “no racial quota” claim reflected his “disingenuity” and “intention to spread disinformation” and misled the public instead of sincerely helping students with excellent results who were denied admission.

Ho Chi Yang

“The racial quota system exists on the pre-university level, whereby selection based on race excludes non-Bumiputera students,” Ho explained.

“Apart from the well-known Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) and Matriculation programmes, many public universities also provide foundation (Asasi) programmes, of which most of the placements are exclusively reserved for Bumiputera students.”

While all Asasi programmes are essentially reserved for Bumiputera students, Ho pointed out that the racial quota of 90% Bumiputera students and 10% non-Bumiputera students is imposed for the Matriculation programme.

“In other words, despite how excellent non-Bumiputera students are, they can only strive for the 10% placements in Matriculation,” he noted.

“This is because students are aware that Matriculation students have a higher chance of being enrolled in popular and critical courses, such as medicine, pharmacy, and so on.

“The remaining unlucky students have no other choice but to accept STPM, with the hope of grabbing the leftovers – the final chance of entering public universities.”

Half-lie to mislead public

Dr Husaini Omar


Meanwhile, Ho also pointed out that Husaini’s claim that some students with excellent results were denied admission to popular courses due to lower co-curricular grades was “no more than a half-lie that would mislead the public”.

“Apparently [Husaini] was not interested at all in paying attention to and tackling the structural unfairness in the education system that many STPM students faced,” he remarked.

“Due to structural flaws, Matriculation students can easily participate in any co-curricular activities and be awarded state-level co-curricular marks while in contrast most STPM students can only be awarded school-level or district-level co-curricular marks.”

As such, when STPM and Matriculation students achieve a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.0, co-curricular marks are often the deciding factor that makes STPM students fall way behind Matriculation students, Ho added.

He said the Government and the Higher Education Ministry should therefore be sincere and admit that Malaysian higher education “reeks of racial discrimination and structural flaws that perpetuate differential treatment”.

Rectify current flaws, reform education system

(Photo credit: Monash University Malaysia)


To resolve the issue, Ho proposed that the Higher Education Ministry immediately form a special committee to assist the University Admission Unit (UPU) to review cases of students with excellent results being denied admission to public universities.

“This is to provide opportunities for excellent students to pursue higher education and prevent brain drain,” he clarified.

As a short-term measure, Ho further suggested that the Government raise the rate of STPM student enrolment.

“For instance, the Government should stipulate that 50% of STPM students and 50% of Matriculation students are enrolled in the popular and major courses across universities to strike a balance between the two major pre-university programmes,” he proposed.

“As a long-term reform, the Government has to abolish pre-university programmes with structural advantages – including the Matriculation programme – and merge pre-university programmes into a single-admission system.

“This will ensure that students can compete on the same level based on the principles of meritocracy and fairness regardless of race, religion and skin colour.” – Sept 30, 2022


Main pic credit: Malay Mail

Subscribe and get top news delivered to your Inbox everyday for FREE