PROVIDING tax breaks and financial assistance to “mushroom colleges” is nothing more than administering Panadol to suppress chest pain caused by heart attack, said Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM).
“Helping these private institutions of higher learning (IPTS) in the form of tax breaks and financial subsidy is merely whitewashing the systemic failure caused by the former.
“The longer these ‘mushroom colleges’ are allowed to operate; more youth will lose their future due to poor quality higher education. These ‘mushroom colleges’ are bound to fail in years to come anyway.
“Therefore, I urge the Government to take responsibility for their mismanagement of our higher education system by absorbing students from ailing ‘mushroom colleges’ into public vocational colleges,” its central committee member Sharan Raj told FocusM.
Earlier today, former Education Minister Maszlee Malik urged the Government to help IPTS given that their business and students have been affected by COVID-19 and the lockdowns imposed.
He suggested the Higher Education Ministry (MOHE) to provide students from the B40 and M40 students studying at IPTS with tuition fee subsidy, which in turn, would compel its management to lower their fees.
“We should also provide IPTS with a two-year tax holiday until things get back to normal. Plus, we can also consider giving IPTS tax exemptions, depending on the number of scholarships they offer to students in need and how much they reduce tuition fees,” the Simpang Renggam MP was reported saying.
While sympathising with the plight of B80 students at IPTS, Sharan opined that Maszlee’s suggestions does not solve the root cause of the problem.
They were failing anyway
He added that the problems caused by the IPTS existed even pre-COVID-19 times, with many of the colleges being established in shop lots and were financially unsustainable.
“They were also underperforming in terms of producing quality graduates. COVID-19 did not cause the financial unsustainability of the hundreds of such ‘mushroom colleges. It merely hastened their failure,” Sharan stressed.
In retrospect, the PSM leader said the problems endured by IPTS today can be traced back during Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad first stint as prime minister, when the latter embarked on privatising higher education in the pretext of reducing Government expenditure.
“It was actually about saving the super-rich from paying more in taxes. The responsibility to fund the skilling of our labour force was shifted from capitalists and employers, towards the individual youths through parents funding or education debt burden.
“As a result, hundreds of profit oriented IPTS known as ‘mushroom colleges’ had become certificate printing shop and/or students visa printing shops.
“These ‘mushroom colleges’ are filled with unqualified lecturers and had jeopardised millions of youths’ future over the past 20 years,” Sharan noted.
He added that many of the IPTS were issued licences by the authorities, despite having little credentials, as they were linked to Barisan Nasional leaders.
“But now, millions of those graduated from ‘mushroom colleges’ are suffering from student debt-bondage.
“These youths’ parents had also lost their Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) savings to pay the colleges fees, for certificate which is not even worth the paper it was printed.,” he remarked. – July 27, 2021.
Photo credit: NST