30 January, 2010


I refer to the reported statement by Higher Education Minister, Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin that the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) requires RM5 billion a year to ensure those qualified to pursue higher education are not deprived of the opportunity. He foresee that the current allocation of RM3 billion a year by the federal government is insufficient by the year 2013 following the increase of the number of students pursuing higher education.

He added that well-to-do parents should take the responsibility to finance their children's education and not rely on the government alone. The government has provided the infrastructure and other facilities and those who are rich should be able to finance their children's education. As such, the ministry is studying how to make the PTPTN sustainable and to ensure loans are given only those who really need them.

In relation to the call by the Higher Education Minister requesting “well-to-do” parents to take responsibility to finance their children’s education, it should be noted that the PTPTN loans are subject to repayment by all the students upon their graduation (unless they have obtained 1st class degrees). The PTPTN loans are unlike “scholarships” which are not subject to repayment. Thus, scholarships should be given based on merits and parent’s financial condition.

It is not feasible for PTPTN to consider its grant of loan based on parent’s financial condition.

There could be instances where “well-to-do” parents refuse to finance their children’s education as they may not place their child’s education as priority. There could also be situation whereby those “well-to-do” parents have a large number of children and it is beyond their means to finance every single child in the family.

It would be unfortunate if those students with merits are taken away from their opportunity to pursue higher education due to the poor definition of “well-to-do” parents.

Instead, I would call upon the government to increase the allocation to PTPTN when the fund for disbursement of the PTPTN loan is insufficient.

The government’s budget should place higher priority in increasing the allocation to PTPTN to ensure all Malaysians are given an opportunity to pursue higher education. Higher education is the backbone for human capital development in our country.

Based on the budget for year 2010, the increase of allocation to PTPTN by RM2 billion would only represent approximately 1% of the total RM200 billion annual budget of our country. That’s a small percentage to pay to ensure all Malaysians are given an opportunity to take out PTPTN loan to pursue their higher education.