Latest decision on matriculation may lower standards, warns BN

The number of students eligible to apply for the matriculation programme has been increased from 25,000 to 40,000. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Putrajaya’s controversial decision to maintain the 90% quota for Bumiputera students in the education ministry’s matriculation programme has invited criticism from BN leaders.

MCA president Wee Ka Siong asked if standards would drop given the “sudden increase of 15,000 students” while MIC’s P Punithan said the government should be more responsible rather than “populist”.

Education Minister Maszlee Malik yesterday said the increased intake for matriculation students to 40,000, from 25,000 previously, was based on a Cabinet decision to get more students into tertiary education and to spread the opportunity to all races.

He said the 90:10 quota was maintained in order to get more Bumiputera students to pursue science-related fields in public universities.

“It will be a big challenge to ensure quality control,” said Wee in a statement today. “How would the government ensure that the matriculation programme maintains education excellence?”

The Ayer Hitam MP questioned if existing lab facilities at matriculation colleges were sufficient and capable of accommodating the high intake of students entering the science field.

“What about the lecturers and supporting staff?” he added. “Using the expertise and resources of teacher training colleges is not a solution.

“The lecturers from the institutes of teacher education have different expertise; their syllabi and lab facilities are all designed for different purposes.”

Wee also trained his guns at the government for not following the previous practice of increasing intake of non-Bumiputera students, noting that placement for non-Bumiputeras had only increased by 1,500.

“The previous government could approve an additional 2,200 vacancies for Indian students,” he said.

“The precedence has been set to increase the vacancies for non-Bumiputra students. Why can’t it be done now?”

Wee said the “first victims” of the announcement would be those who sat for STPM this year — some 43,000 students. It would now be “even more competitive” for STPM students to enter public universities, he said.

“If there is no significant change in our demography, there will be more matriculation students (60%) compared with STPM students following this new implementation.”

Punithan agreed with Wee. “When it comes to universities, not only matriculation students will be applying but also students who have just finished STPM, diploma and polytechnic courses.

“Is the government going to increase the number of places in universities as well in the future, when the number of students applying for local universities increases?”

Malay Mail quoted the MIC central working committee member as saying the increase of a measly 1,500 seats for non-Bumiputeras, compared with the extra 13,500 matriculation seats for Bumiputeras, was not fair.

The move has also drawn flak from within Pakatan Harapan, with DAP’s P Ramasamy saying the government had failed to move forward.

Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism northern region coordinator K Sudhagaran Stanley described it as “one of the worst” moves by the Pakatan Harapan administration.

Meanwhile, 20 DAP leaders have come out to say that the government should abolish the matriculation programme in stages as a requirement for entering public universities.

If this was done, then all ethnic groups would be able to have a fair starting point when they enter local universities, they said. Such a policy should be a needs-based policy, not one based on one’s skin colour, they added.