This assurance is most welcome, but it is most unfortunate that in the past 48 hours there had been no follow-up concrete actions to announce additional university intake of the SPM top-scorers.
A day before Abdullah’s statement in Parliament, the Education Ministry Higher Education Department director Prof Dr. Hassan Said announced that the Ministry would admit an additional 160 SPM students out of the over 500 SPM top scorers whose applicatios for university admission have been rejected.
Was Abdullah referring to this additional admission of 160 SPM top-scorers when he said local universities will take in “as many as possible” SPM high achievers, which would be no news whatsoever and nothing for the rejected SPM high-achievers to be happy about, as this would mean that the remaining 400 SPM top scorers are still turned away by the local universities.
Or was Abdullah announcing that apart from the additional admission of 160 SPM top scorers announced by Hassan on Wednesday, the government would announce another batch of admission of SPM top-scorers into the universities - and if so how many and whether all the remaining 400 would be given places?
Abdullah should clarify to ensure that his Thursday statement in Parliament did not bring empty hope to the SPM top scorers, their parents and friends, as well as Malaysians who want to see justice and fair play in university admissions.
Abdullah should give serious consideration to the call by the Malaysian Academic Movement Chairman Dr. Wan Abdul Manan Wan Muda on Friday that SPM top scorers should be given a chance to enter university and take up courses they are interested in as this will be in the country’s best interest and that a special programme should be developed for top scorers to ensure they would eventually serve the country.
Wan Abdul Manan said: “We don’t want potential five-star engineers going into fields they are not interested in. We will lose the critical mass of intelligent people if this happens.” (Star, 5.5.2001).
Abdullah should ensure that the Cabinet on Wednesday adopt a new university admission policy reflecting his parliamentary assurance that local universities will take in “as many as possible” SPM high achievers by (I) ensuring that all the 500-plus SPM top scorers are admitted into the local universities to take up courses they are interested in; and (ii) release the 7,168 unfilled university places to eligible Chinese and Indian students as there are no more qualified bumiputera students to be admitted who meet the minimum university entrance standards for two reasons: Parliament had approved 38,000 new university places for this year in 2001 budget and secondly, to fulfil the national objective to produce competent, productive and knowledgeable workforce for Malaysia’s K-economy.
The Cabinet should set up an all-party Parliamentary Committee on Fair University Admissions to receive and process complaints from SPM and STPM applicants whether on university admission, the courses offered or on scholarship entitlements so that aggrieved applicants have a proper channel to submit their complaints.