PETALING JAYA: About 150 Malaysian students are suffering the effects of the massive decline in the value of the ringgit and may lose their places in Egyptian universities as a result.
The students, in the fields of medical science – medicine, dentistry and pharmacy – are from eight universities and are said to have racked up a total of RM4.5 million in unpaid tuition fees, Berita Harian reported.
They are finding it difficult to continue paying their annual tuition fees because the value of the ringgit has dropped from RM3.20 to US$1 in September 2014 to RM4.13 as of yesterday. The value of the ringgit reached a low of RM4.47 in September last year.
The president of the Malaysia-Egypt Medical Science Students Association (Perubatan) said Malaysian students are struggling to pay their tuition fees which could be as high as US$8,000 per annum, according to the local Bahasa Malaysia daily.
“The issue of backdated fees is getting more serious since the fall of the ringgit towards the end of last year. It has affected the exchange rate of the ringgit to the US dollar and Egyptian pound. This has in turn increased the cost to pay our school fees.
“Also, the living expenses in Egypt increased by nearly 50 per cent over the past two years. This situation has put students under tremendous pressure, especially those who don’t have sponsors or any student loans,” Perubatan President Ikraam Abdul Latif was quoted as saying by Berita Harian.
Many of the 150 students initially chose to further their studies in Egypt in the hopes of obtaining scholarships from the Public Service Department (JPA) and Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) if they managed to get good results in their first year.
However, since the 2013 Egyptian military coup and the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood-led government, JPA and Mara had pulled the plug on their sponsorship and financing programmes.
Ikraam, who’s a sixth-year medical student at the Cairo University, said many affected students are now dependent on public funds to get by.
He said that Perubatan had attempted to work together with Education Malaysia Egypt to settle existing student debts. However, the efforts were short-lived.
“The cooperation was for a short-term basis, such as releasing confirmation letters stating that the students have no sponsorship and loans, and also permission for indebted students to be allowed to sit for their examinations,” he told Berita Harian.
The 150 affected Malaysian students are studying medicine, dentistry and pharmacy at Al-Azhar University, Cairo University, Ain Shams University, Zagazig University, Alexandria University, Tanya University, Mansoura University and Assiut University.