DIFFERENT NEEDS: PTPTN must fine-tune disbursement system according to requirements
STUDENTS should be given the option to decide on the loan amount of the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) which they actually need for their studies.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said yesterday that the loan repayment system should be improved.
He said this was something which PTPTN must implement in the future by evaluating the kinds of loans offered and the amount disbursed based on individual requirements.
Citing an example, Khaled said the cost of education to study in different geographic regions was something that should be taken into account in addition to students' socio-economic backgrounds.
"Living expenses in Kuala Lumpur will differ from that in Perak. "For example, PTPTN may not offer the same amount to students from middle-income backgrounds if they are studying in institutions located in rural areas because their living expenses will be far lesser," he said to the New Straits Times, at his ministry.
Khaled said it would be good if PTPTN was able to provide options to students in future.
"At the end of the day, students are the ones who repay loans. So they should be given the choice to decide on how much loan they want to take based on their capability to pay back."
On the possibility of free education in public universities, Khaled said besides having to increase other government expenditure to cover costs, a free education system may cause the quality of education to deteriorate.
"Malaysia needs to develop its people to their maximum level in order to create better human capital."
On amendments to the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA), Khaled said they were in line with the government's transformation in balancing students' freedom and rights without jeopardising their education.
He reiterated that students were allowed to participate in political activities, but only outside of campus.
Amendments to Section 15 of UUCA, now allow students to be involved in politics, but all political activities must be kept away from university grounds.
Khaled acknowledged that students today were mature enough to regard this freedom with a sense of responsibility. However, he said university grounds must remain neutral territory.
"This means students will be able to develop their own character, thinking and ideologies independently without the influence of any political party. This is in accordance with the initial purpose of establishing universities, their role in education and nation-building.
Khaled said universities were places for students to develop a scholarly and knowledge culture in a stable environment, free from prejudice.
On repeal of Section 15(2)(c) of the Act, which bars students from holding posts in political parties from contesting in campus elections or holding any post in student societies, organisations, bodies or groups, Khaled said there was no basis for the assumption that someone who holds a position in a political party would automatically be given a post in campus.
"They are just undergraduates at the end of the day without any sort of qualification. Even if they were to hold a party position, it will be one of those in the lower rungs. It is impossible for any student to be elected as Umno Youth chief or as an executive council member in any party for that matter.
"After all, who would want to elect a student as a party leader when they are still at a stage where they need to be led by others? We also felt that to allow for this regulation to remain would be seen as punishing and denying the rights of those with party positions to hold posts on campus."
Khaled also said while students were free to exercise their rights to be involved in politics, they must be aware that they were fully responsible if their studies were affected in a negative way.