Close to 1,000 new students in 33 private colleges are now finding it hard to continue their studies as Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) has stopped giving out education loans, a study by the PKR Youth students' bureau shows.
The finding has once again highlighted claims that government-linked aid for tertiary education is shrinking this year.
Mara, meanwhile, was reported as saying on Friday that RM264 million has been allocated for students of its UniKL who complained they did not receive promised loans.
The study also found that about 80% of the 945 students were studying in Mara-related colleges and had been promised loans. This included students from UniKL.
Those in the non-Mara colleges had enrolled in the hopes of securing a loan midway through their studies, the study’s author Fahmi Zainol told The Malaysian Insider.
About 80.7% are thinking of dropping out if they cannot secure a Mara loan, while 82% know a friend who has quit college because he or she cannot get a loan.
“The conclusion from our study is that Mara does have a problem with giving out loans. Their online loan application facility has also stopped accepting applications,” said Fahmi, who is also PKR Youth student bureau chief.
“But now, they are starting the second semester this year and they don’t know where they are going to get the money to pay for their studies.
“That is why some students have dropped out after the first semester (in July),” Fahmi said, adding that more than 90% of the study’s respondents felt troubled by their financial situation.
Fahmi said the students have been told that they have to pay their second semester fees by May. Failure to do so would mean they will not be able to continue.
Of the 33 institutions, nine are Mara polytechnics in Johor, Pahang, Kedah and Kelantan. The rest are private colleges in Kuala Lumpur, Kedah, Malacca, Johor, Terengganu, Penang and Selangor.
Two are overseas universities – Sunderland University in London, United Kingdom and University of Mansoura, Egypt. The 945 students have also written in to an online complaint centre which the bureau set up.
“But we verified their complaints by visiting the universities in the list to talk to a sample group of students,” said Fahmi.
On February 10, PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli also urged Mara to come clean on its loan programmes.
Putrajaya’s ability to continue funding tertiary education was also highlighted when in January it announced that the much-sought after Public Service Department (PSD) scholarship programmes would be continued.
Najib’s announcement, however, said Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari, was accompanied by funding cuts of between 21% and 60% for all four programmes under PSD.
– The Malaysian Insider-