KUALA LUMPUR: Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) today denied allegations that there was a reduction in funding allocation for outstanding students abroad this year.
Mara said in a statement that the government’s approved RM2 billion allocation for the 2019 education loan programme was the same as in previous years.
“This allocation is used to sponsor students who are studying at all levels, both in and outside the country.
“Mara does not set any student quota overseas, but the sponsoring of students is based on fields that are in line with national manpower requirements,” the statement said.
On Tuesday, Wirawati Perkasa Bumiputera Party of Malaysia (Putra) chairman Dr Asmah Razalli had claimed that there was a sharp drop in the allocation and quota of outstanding students sponsored by Mara abroad.
According to the statement, the number of Mara-sponsored students is 38,758 and is projected to be 50,000 by the end of this year.
As of May this year, there were 1,535 Mara-sponsored students overseas through programmes such as the Young Talent Programme (YTP), IPMA Excellent Students Progamme (IESP), Graduate Excellence Programme (GREP) and Professional Development Programme (Pro-P).
“Until the end of this year, it is estimated that another 1,750 students will be sent overseas, bringing the total number of Mara students overseas to 3,285 for the year 2019, exceeding the number of students last year,” the statement said.
Mara also explained that the reduction in the number of students abroad compared to the previous two years was due to several factors, including the increase in tuition fees of at least 10% per year for domestic and overseas studies.
“In addition, foreign currency exchange also contributes to the increase in tuition fees and subsistence as payments to students and institutions use the foreign currency,” it said.