Malaysian campuses under severe strain

August 14, 1998

Malaysia's universities are being stretched to the limit as a direct result of the economic crisis causing more students to study locally. The government has cut university budgets by around 10 per cent, while at the same time asking institutions to increase their student intake.

To accommodate the increased numbers, many Malaysianuniversities are using lecture halls, tutorial rooms and laboratories all day and late into the night.

University Putra Malaysia says it is operating with 8.7 per cent less money than last year, while the student population has doubled. Its faculty of agriculture has had to absorb a 300 per cent student increase.

Institute Technology Malaysia is expected to admit around 12,000 students this year, 3,000 more than last year. The institute's rector, Datuk Dr Ahmad Zaidee Laidin, said that the 10 per cent cut in funding was making things very very tough indeed, and the institute would have to cut expenditure in every way it could.

This would include cancelling all expenditure that is not absolutely vital to students' education, including its remaining twinning programmes with overseas universities and all study leave for staff.

But the government has allocated an extra M$200 million (Pounds 33 million) to cater for a 24 per cent increase in students accepted for pre-degree programmes in local universities.

Deputy prime minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim,said the extra funding was part of the additional M$400 million allocated to the education ministry. The remaining M$200million was for infrastructure development.

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