PUTRAJAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad today weighed in on the debate over the limited number of places for non-Malay students at the government’s matriculation centres, saying the pre-university programme was designed to make it easier for Malays to enter universities.
“We decided to have matriculation classes because we found Malays did not take the Higher School Certificate (STPM) and cannot enter university.
“So we provided a back door for them. It was entirely meant as a back door for the Malays,” the prime minister said during an interview session with the media at his office here.
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.
Last month, Putrajaya said it was sticking to the 90% quota for Bumiputera students in the matriculation programme, but announced an increase in the number of students from 25,000 to 40,000.
Mahathir said the government’s decision to increase the intake was in response to complaints that non-Malays who performed better could not get a place in the matriculation programme.
“So the whole idea of trying to increase the number of Malay students in the universities via matriculation is nullified because even the Chinese and Indian students go through the back door,” he added.
Mahathir, a former education minister, also noted that the issue over matriculation had never cropped up before.