Last year, some 500 high-achievers in the SPM exam with five to ten As who applied for admission to local universities were rejected although about 100 gained entry after lodging appeals. This problem has become worse this year with more than 500 failed to get places in local universities although they had even better results.
What is needed is not a statement by Dr. Hassan on why more than 500 SPM high-achievers had been rejected this year, but an emergency Cabinet meeting for a new “brain gain” policy under 8th Malaysia Plan to approve university places for the over 500 SPM high-achievers who have been rejected by local universities.
This year, a total of 38,051 SPM students out of 140,845 applications have been offered places to pursue matriculation programmes or degree courses for the 2001/2002 academic session - comprising 11,708 for the Ministry’s matriculation centres, 835 at Universiti Malaya’s Pusat Asasi Sains and 25,511 at public higher educational institutions.
If the government could pour billions of ringgit to save a few companies and tycoons, like MAS, Renong, UEM, Time Engineering, Time dotCom, Star and Putra, it is inexcusable why it could not expand the university intake to accommodate the 500 SPM high-achievers, especially as this will be in the national interest to create a world-class pool of the best talents to transform Malaysia into a successful K-economy which can compete with the rest of the world.
It is most ironic that only early this month, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi played host to 200 SPM top-achievers in Putrajaya.
The Prime Minister even urged the students not to turn their backs on their country because they owed a debt to society, their parents and the nation for their academic achievements.
Mahathir said that even if they get tempting offers by other countries because of their excellent academic achievements, like earning 10 times more if they work in other countries, they must remember that they are Malaysians and come home.
But Mahathir did not tell the batch of the best and brightest of the SPM students last year what they should do when it is the government and country which turned their backs on them by refusing to admit them into the local universities.
While being hosted by the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister at Putrajaya must be a memorable event for the 200 SPM top achievers, if they are given a choice between being guest of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister for one Putrajaya lunch or entry into one of the local universities, there can be no doubt as to their decision.
For this reason, the Cabinet should resolve on a new “brain gain” policy under 8th Malaysia Plan to approve university places for over 500 SPM high achievers who have been rejected by the local universities without further ado.
The Cabinet should announce such a new “brain gain” policy during the winding-up of the debate on the Eighth Malaysia Plan when Parliament reconvenes on Wednesday.