Matriculation course should be open to all, says DAP leader

The government’s pre-university matriculation programme is popular due to its low cost and the better chances it offers of pursuing a degree at a public university.

PETALING JAYA: A DAP leader has urged Putrajaya to end the current practice of prioritising Bumiputera students in its pre-university matriculation programme, saying this goes against the Federal Constitution’s guarantee of no discrimination against citizens.

“Every student deserves their right to education without discrimination, regardless of their race,” said Leong Yu Sheng, who heads DAP Youth’s university affairs committee.

He said the current policy of allocating only 10% of seats at 15 matriculation centres under the education ministry nationwide is also unfair as the centres are paid for by taxpayers.

“It must be replaced with a needs-based quota emphasising academic achievement, economic background and other relevant considerations,” Leong said in a statement, adding to criticism over reports that qualified non-Malay students have been rejected from placement for matriculation programmes.

Education Minister Maszlee Malik recently said the policy of reserving 90% of seats in the programme for the Bumiputera would remain. However, he said the Cabinet would discuss this week whether non-Bumis would be given a bigger quota.

The matriculation programme is a pre-university course for students who completed their Form 5 Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination. They are allowed to pursue a degree at public universities upon completion of the course, which is normally between one and two years.

The programme is popular as it is much cheaper than pursuing other pre-university courses at private institutions, apart from allowing greater chances of entering public universities.

Leong said the current policy of racial quotas for matriculation intake is “unjustifiable, unfair, unreasonable and unlawful”.

He also questioned the lack of data on the performance of matriculation students as compared to the Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) examination, saying the previous administration had not been transparent about the system.

He said the 50% drop in the number of STPM students over the last decade was due to mistrust in the government’s handling of public university intake.

“The matriculation programme is the main cause of this distrust, which therefore necessitates an immediate review and improvement by the ministry,” said Leong.