A special fund to aid students will be set up if Pakatan dismantles the PTPTN after coming into power.
KUALA LUMPUR: PKR said today it will set up a special fund to aid students with their daily expenses while studying by providing fixed-cost loans once Pakatan Rakyat abolishes the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) if it wrests federal power.
Its strategic director Rafizi Ramli said this would counter attempts by political rivals to twist PKR’s proposal.
This plan was included in a five-point framework to implement a free education policy and to replace the current PTPTN scheme which critics claim saddled graduates with huge debts even before they were employed.
First in its plan would be to set up a technical university aimed at increasing high learning chances for everyone, which Rafizi said was important to balance the number of offers in public institutes compared to private institutes.
This would therefore prevent future dependence on paid higher education, he reasoned.
Rafizi then said a Pakatan federal government would finance tuition fees at public institutes and provide living cost allowances for qualified students based on their academic achievements, socio-economic backgrounds and family burdens.
“And those from high-income families can opt to bear school fees but can still qualify for a loan from a special fund to be set up for living costs allowance and private education,” he added.
The PKR leader said the framework would also consider applications from the same fund for those with no space in public varsities.
Its key element would be living allowances at a fixed rate taking into account subsidised fees by the government based on their courses.
Rafizi said only an estimated RM3 billion in the annual budget was required to see the success of the scheme which could easily be financed by the annual RM5 billion that could be saved by abolishing lopsided highway concessions.
“This clearly dismisses arguments that Malay/Bumiputera students will lose out if a free education policy is implemented as they cannot support themselves,” he said.
PKR had been leading the calls with regard to the PTPTN issue targeted at winning support from young Malay voters who make up one-sixth of the electorate.
However, its ally PAS said yesterday that it would be wrong to abolish the PTPTN without a proper replacement scheme.
PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang said in an interview with a Malay daily published today that this replacement process must be fair to all Malaysians as propounded by Islam.
“That is why PTPTN cannot simply be abolished just like that. There has to be a process. A fair process which is not burdensome to the poor and one where the more privileged must bear responsibility,” he said.