Student activist wants Budget 2017 review for varsities

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KUALA LUMPUR: A group of university students, led by activist Anis Syafiqah Yusof, braved the rain this morning to urge Putrajaya to review the reduced budget set aside for public universities nationwide.

Anis said parliamentarians, regardless of their political affiliation, and the higher education minister should debate the matter to find a solution and overcome the reduced budget which she added was burdening the universities.

“While the government denied that fees will not be increased, universities are feeling the pinch,” the Universiti Malaya student told reporters outside the Parliament compound after she and 10 others held a brief protest.

The higher education ministry saw its allocation slashed by 10.27 per cent to RM12.13 billion from the RM13.38 billion set aside for it last year.

Meanwhile, next year’s allocation for public universities saw it reduced by 23.8 per cent to RM6.117 billion from the RM7.575 billion allocated in 2016.

Budget 2017 also saw the allocation for Universiti Malaya, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia reduced by 20-40 per cent.

Anis, who organised the #TangkapMO1 rally in August, said the cuts will affect the universities’ management, and is likely to see them charging undergrads to use facilities, such as the lecture hall, once classes are over.

Last month, after the national budget was tabled, Anis urged the government to address the costly public university fees, which she added was not standardised, as it burdened both students and their parents.