FORMER Education Minister Maszlee Malik urged the Government to embark on new ideas to help higher learning institutions, particularly private ones, given that their business and students have been affected by COVID-19 and the lockdowns imposed.
For starters, he urged the Higher Education Ministry (MOHE) to provide students from the B40 and M40 students studying at private higher learning institutions (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,” he added.
Last year, students from various IPTS complained that ITPS were not reducing their fees despite most classes being conducted virtually, with periodic lessons also reduced due to the movement control order.
However, IPTS owners have argued that they could not cut down on fees due to other overhead expenditures such as staff salaries and infrastructure maintenance.
Sympathising with the IPTS’ and their students’ predicament, Maszlee said the former is a major contributor to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), contributing RM31.5 bil to Malaysia’s coffers in 2018 alone.
“The sector is projected to grow between 5% and 6% annually, translating into RM65 bil in 2025 and RM84 bil by 2030.
“And don’t forget that out of 1.3 million of our tertiary level students, 537, 434 of them are studying at IPTS,” he noted.
With that, Maszlee called upon the MOHE to strengthen and upgrade smart partnerships with private universities and foreign varsities, to develop and share new learning materials.
“Funds must be allocated especially to public and private varsities which already have the necessary infrastructure to develop open and distance learning materials (ODL),” he said.
On foreign students, Maszlee urged the Government to provide Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS) with visa exemptions and reduce charges revolving it, for those who apply online and attending classes virtually to ease their burden.
“This should apply to those studying at Malaysian public universities and IPTS, until the pandemic situation subsides,” the Simpang Renggam MP remarked. – July 27, 2021