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PETALING JAYA: It is unfair that Malaysian students applying for a place to study engineering at Universiti Malaysia (UM) through their direct intake system, have to pay the full fees as foreign students, says Teresa Kok of the DAP.

The Seputeh MP directed her criticism at Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Wee Ka Siong, who clarified yesterday that if local students wish to forgo Unit Pusat Universiti (UPU) selection for a place at UM, they would be subjected to the same full fees that foreigners pay under the university’s direct intake system for its Centre for Continuing Education (UMCCed).

In a statement she issued today, Kok said Wee had “failed to address” the issue of a resulting dual fee structure i.e. charging locals the full fees of RM90,000 for the entire course if via the direct intake programme and only RM12,000 if they apply via UPU selection, a centre under the Education Ministry.

“Is it fair that some can enjoy heavily subsidised course fees while others have to pay the full fees?” she asked.

She added, “It is a common practice for overseas universities to charge foreign students much higher tuition fees as a way to increase revenues. But their citizens will all enjoy the same subsidised fees.”

Kok also brought up the issue of entry requirements for the direct and non-direct intake of students for engineering programmes.

She argued that if entry requirements were the same, students should not have to apply for the direct intake programme that costs RM90,000 compared to the non-direct intake programme that costs only RM12,000.

“And if the entry requirements are different, where is the fairness?”

According to the UM Engineering faculty’s website, the programme requiring the payment of full fees was called the international programme. Kok said that if this was the case, why was the programme not restricted to international students only.

“Is this because Universiti Malaya’s Engineering faculty is not confident of attracting sufficient applications from foreign students?” Kok said.

She said public universities played a different role from private universities in that it was a place where “poor students” could pursue a tertiary education at affordable rates.

“A public university should not forgo such an important role.”

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