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About 356,000 people, or 16 per cent, of National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) defaulters have never paid their loan instalments even once. (NSTP Archive)

KUALA LUMPUR: About 356,000 people, or 16 per cent, of National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) defaulters have never paid their loan instalments even once. And they owe RM2.8 billion to the corporation.

PTPTN chaiman Wan Saiful Wan Jan, who revealed these figures, said that up to December last year, 32 per cent, or 616,000 borrowers, had been inconsistent in servicing loans.

This group has RM3.5 billion in outstanding payments, and has settled only 58 per cent of the amount it owed to the PTPTN.

“Up to the end of last year, the outstanding amount reached RM6.3 billion, with 68 per cent of defaulters having not paid for more than a year.

“This contributes to a widening gap between the cumulative amount of loans that can be disbursed and loans that have been repaid. Only 32.5 per cent of the RM56 billion disbursed has been repaid.”

Wan Saiful said the number of students requiring loans from PTPTN was expected to grow from 180,000 to 250,000 by 2040, according to a projected enrolment growth trend stated in the Higher Education Blueprint.

It was reported that 655,000 out of the one million loan defaulters had settled their loans, with collections totalling about RM1.9 billion.

There were suggestions to reintroduce a travel ban on loan defaulters with restrictions imposed on the renewal of passports, driving licences, business licences and road tax.

Wan Saiful, however, said the suggestions were mentioned only at a public engagement session and were subject to the government’s approval.

The alarming state of affairs has prompted PTPTN to conduct public consultation programmes to ensure that the student higher education fund remains sustainable, while looking at new repayment schemes.

Among the options for the latter are income-based repayment, mandatory salary deduction and deferment of repayment for those with a monthly income of below RM4,000.

Town hall sessions will be held at Universiti Malaya on May 23, Universiti Sains Malaysia (May 25), Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (May 27), Universiti Malaysia Sabah (May 29) and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (May 31). The public can submit feedback on the matter at www. ptptn.gov.my

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