BANGI: Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob today announced that the living allowance for local and overseas students sponsored by Mara will be increased with immediate effect.
He said the new living allowance rate for local students has been increased to a maximum of RM950 per month, while for students studying overseas, it has been increased to a maximum of RM7,600 per month. The amount varies for students at different level of studies, from diploma to doctorate.
“The living allowance for existing and new students studying in the country has been adjusted according to the increase in costs and inflation as well as their needs.
“The increase in allowance will involve a total of 62,998 Mara-sponsored students,” he said in his speech at the “Aspirasi Kecemerlangan Keluarga Malaysia” programme here, which was attended by nearly 3,000 students.
There are currently 4,149 Mara-sponsored students studying overseas, while 58,849 Mara-sponsored students were in local public universities or selected private educational institutions.
According to Ismail, the living allowance was for the student’s accommodation, food, transportation, and other daily needs.
He said the existing allowance rate had been used for over 13 years and there was a need to review it following the increase in the cost of living in the country over the past 10 years.
“Inflation has impacted students’ cost of living and they have to plan their expenses well to ensure that their academic journey is not affected,” he added.
Based on the JPA-Mara special operation survey in February which focused on life in cities such as London, Bristol, and Edinburgh, Ismail said more than 60% of Mara and JPA-sponsored students, the majority of whom are from the B40 group, were found to be struggling with daily expenses.
“For example, the average monthly expenses for house rent and utility bills in major cities are between £500 or RM2,733 and £730 or RM3,990. This is between 60% and 70% of the allowance received by each student,” he said.
He added that the living allowance for Mara and JPA students in London was £1,045 or RM5,712, much lower than the UK government’s recommended median of £1,312 or RM7,172 as of September 2021.
“Students have to practice prudent spending and cut their budget by getting a place to live a little further from the university and working part-time to cover their daily expenses.
“The government does not wish to see students cut their food expenditure,” he said.