Federal govt urged to take cue from Sarawak govt to expand access to higher education

Eric Tay Tze Kok

KUCHING, Oct 4: The federal government has been urged to review and find solutions to expand access to higher education including a more transparent admission procedure and take its cue from the Sarawak government’s strategy in taking over private higher learning institutions so that no qualified student will be rejected.

Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) Kuching Branch Youth chairman Eric Tay made this call following Higher Education Ministry director-general Prof Datuk Dr Husaini Omar’s statement that nearly 20,000 Malaysian students with STPM or equivalent qualifications failed to get into public universities this year.

Husaini said that competition to get into public universities was very strong this year due to limited places, especially for popular courses like medicine, accounting and dentistry.


“How many percent of this pool of students are Sarawakians? This is unfair to qualified and outstanding students. STPM, which is Malaysia’s high school diploma, is equivalent to the British advanced school diploma.

“Therefore, it is a waste of talent if these students don’t get the opportunity to pursue further studies. This will also cause growing dissatisfaction among the younger generation towards the federal government and eventually lead to a bigger brain drain,” Tay said in a statement today.

Tay emphasised that this is a major factor leading to Sarawakians wanting to advocate for greater education autonomy for Sarawak.

While he opined that this problem can be solved by encouraging more transparent admissions criteria, Tay also believed that it is time for the Higher Education Ministry to review and chart a new direction for the country’s higher education system by taking the cue from Sarawak government’s strategy in taking over private higher education institutions to increase or widen participation in higher education.

“Recognising that human capital development is important, the Sarawak government through Yayasan Sarawak now fully owns Swinburne University (Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus), Curtin University (Malaysia), University of Technology Sarawak (UTS), and i-Cats University College, apart from Centre of Technical Excellence Sarawak (Centexs).

“By doing so, we are putting efforts to prevent further brain drain from Sarawak, while ensuring students continue to pursue the highest of education in various fields and later contribute to building a better Sarawak and Malaysia,” he elaborated.

Moreover, Tay added that Yayasan Sarawak even provides scholarships, incentives and living allowances for outstanding students regardless of their backgrounds, which reflect the Sarawak government’s seriousness in improving the lives of Sarawakian children through education.

“The Higher Education Ministry should have the professionalism and experts to improve our higher education system that will be able to nurture our next generation of leaders in various fields.

“The failure of this will only lead to bigger brain drain and our country will remain stagnant instead of progressing and not fully realising the potential of our resources,” he warned. — DayakDaily