It has been reported that apart from the provision of 160 places for SPM top-scorers with 10As and above which was announced by the Education Ministry Higher Education Department director Professor Hassan Said on 3rd May 2001, the Education Ministry has allocated another 267 university places - 250 for those with 9As and below in the SPM and 17 for STPM high-scorers.
This is clearly inadequate to ensure that the best and brightest of each generation are admitted into the local public institutions to create excellence in the higher-education system.
Furthermore, efforts to provide a higher percentage of university and tertiary participation rate is urgently needed as Malaysia has trailed behind other nations in ensuring that the best and brightest of each generation receives quality higher-education.
The Third Outline Perspective Plan (2,001-2,010) reports that in 2000, the percentage of the population completing tertiary education was 14 per cent and secondary education was 58 per cent. Its target for expanded tertiary education is that by 2,010, “the enrolment of the age cohort of 17-23 years in tertiary education will be 40 per cent, and at least 35 per cent of the labour force will have attained tertiary education”.
Malaysia, however, compares unfavourably with other economies like Singapore, South Korea and Japan in investing in higher education in the Information Technology era where human resources have become even important than physical resources in determing a country’s competitiveness.
In South Korea, the university participation rate in South Korea increased by nearly 900 per cent in four decades - from 5 per cent in 1955 to 43.4 per cent in 1992. These figures relate to the number of students at four-year universities. In addition, over 30 per cent of the age group pursued two-year courses at Junior Colleges. In Singapore participation in university had increased from 9 per cent to 20 per cent between 1985 to 1995 with polytechnic participation increasing from 15 per cent to 37 per cent during the same period. Malaysia lagged behind both countries with 11 per cent university participation rate.
Malaysia should make immediate special efforts to increase the university participation rate of each age group beginning this year, starting with a 10 per cent increase in the originally-targetted university intake of 38,000 students or an additional 3,800 places in the local public universities.
Such an increase will make it possible for the government to adopt a
fair university admission policy comprising the following four elements: