More than 10k UM seniors can’t get lodging on campus, say students

UNIVERSITI Malaya (UM) student groups have urged the public varsity to tackle accommodation issues faced by students as face-to-face learning sessions resume.

The Universiti Malaya Students’ Union (UMSU) noted that UM only has an accommodation capacity of 12,067 individuals.

However, the number of undergraduate students alone is 16,734, according to a recent fact sheet by the university – not including foundation, diploma and postgraduate students.

“For the upcoming academic year, UM is expecting an intake of 6,000 plus students,” UMSU said in a statement. “This is a stark increase from the 2020 intake of 4,330 students, as shown in the UM Annual Report.

“As a result, only 3,766 rooms are made available for senior students, forcing more than 10,000 senior students to seek private accommodation outside the campus.”

Pic credit: NSTP

UMSU said this has been a structural issue that has been sidelined and worsened by the increased intake by the university and Higher Education Ministry for many years, and called on them to fix their “lackadaisical attitude”.

For the short term, UMSU urged UM to reopen the Rumah Sewa KMUM and open up KK10 and KK13 residential colleges to accommodate more students affected by the lack of placement capacity.

Furthermore, they said targeted aid must be given to eligible bottom 40 income (B40) students who failed to get residential college placements.

Besides that, they urged UM to:

  • Allow student leaders to run and implement the UM College Election Committee;
  • Allow UMSU to have administrative control over Kompleks Perdana Siswa as an activity space;
  • Allow UMSU to manage the Principal’s House as student accommodation or activity space;
  • Improve the operational aspects and working hours of the UM student clinic; and
  • Give justice to all sexual harassment cases at UM.

“More funding and sufficient academic infrastructure”

As for the long term, the union urged the Finance Ministry to allocate funding for the construction of more residential colleges at all public universities to ensure at least 70% of students can be accommodated in affordable hostel rooms.

Likewise, the Higher Education Ministry must ensure that the current academic infrastructure, be it in terms of facilities or academic staff, is sufficient to accommodate the current influx of students, they said.

UMSU also called for UM to guarantee UM students’ freedom of speech and association as well as autonomy and participation in campus matters, notwithstanding the “draconian” University and University College Act (AUKU) 1971.

This is as students need to be trained as leaders and “empowered” to speak up “rather than leaving issues to be sidelined by the UM Student Affairs Unit”.

UMSU demanded that the UM administration and relevant ministries immediately act and carry out their respective responsibilities and ensure that the welfare of the students is guaranteed since face-to-face lecture sessions will be held in the upcoming semester.

“If the above demands are not fulfilled, we will not hesitate to escalate the matter further,” they warned.

Similarly, the Universiti Malaya Association of New Youth (UMANY) slammed UM for its “irresponsible attitude in remaining silent” on the matter, claiming that almost 9,000 students failed to secure a place in the varsity’s residence halls this year.

UMANY pointed fingers at the university’s “excessive” intake of students this year and a “lack of transparency” in the university’s residential college application system.

They also called for UMSU to be given the authority to manage residential colleges, which currently falls under the purview of the Student Affairs Office. – Sept 5, 2022


Main pic credit: The Star

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