Reconsider plan to involve university students in National Service, govt urged

KUALA LUMPUR: Three student groups have voiced objection to plans to include undergraduates in the revamped National Service Training Programme (NS3.0), warning it could affect their studies.

"It will disrupt their academic calendars, particularly if the programme coincides with important academic commitments such as exams or project deadlines," said National Student Consultative Council president Wan Amsyar Hadie Wan Mahadi.

"Additionally, some students may have prior commitments, such as internships or part-time jobs, that will affect their participation in the programme," he told the New Straits Times.

He was commenting on Deputy Defence Minister Adly Zahari's remarks that the revamped NS3.0 will also involve school leavers and university students.

Universiti Teknologi Mara student council president Mohamed Yusuf Hassan Roslan said the government should reconsider the inclusion of university students in NS3.0.

"The students already have commitments at the university and everyone will enter the industry according to their respective fields. We do not want their (university students) involvement to be superficial with unattainable objectives.

Yusuf said he was concerned that the inclusion of university students could lead to some students graduating later than expected and this could affect the supply of skilled labour in the market.

If the government decides to proceed with including university students, it should first engage student leaders in the country, he said.

Universiti Malaya Association of New Youth vice-president Lai Yue Yi said the expansion of NS3.0 to include university students could burden them with worries over having to reschedule or skip their semesters.

"University students who work during semester breaks to save up for university fees will also be deprived (of the opportunity to earn money) if they are forced to join the programme."

Lai said some universities had Reserve Officer Training Unit (ROTU) programmes that would like have similar goals to NS3.0.

"If NS3.0 is to be reintroduced, it should be harmonised with the ROTU programme in universities," he said.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Center of Community Education and Wellbeing, Education Faculty chairman Associate Professor Hasnah Toran said she was concerned the inclusion of university students in NS could lead to delays in graduation.

"Quite a number of my students come from B40 families," she said, adding a delay in graduation could affect a student's economic wellbeing and that of their families.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Academic Movement, Gerak, questioned how the government planned to implement NS without disrupting university students' studies.

"There are courses that are offered once a year and are the students willing to postpone their study just to join this programme?" he asked.

The NS3.0 training is expected to restart next year and will have two training components - military-based training and nation-building or patriotism.

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