Pay rise aims to halt drain

August 22, 1997

Academics and administrators at the University of Malaya (UM) are to receive pay increases of between 20 and 22.8 per cent when the university becomes a corporation in January 1998.

Tuition fees will be frozen for two years after incorporation. UM will establish its own remuneration system for academic and non-academic staff.

Education minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has given assurances that UM salaries will be "lucrative enough to stop the brain drain".

"The best brains will be attracted to the new scheme," said Dr Najib, and it would also make UM "more attractive to foreign academicians and help enhance the university scholastic excellence."

Undergraduates also received the welcome news that the existing fee structure would remain unchanged for two years after incorporation, although fees would subsequently be reviewed periodically by the National Higher Educational Council (NHEC).

To enjoy the new benefits university staff will have to switch from the existing remuneration scheme to the new one. All staff will be free to choose which scheme they prefer. The new scheme will require staff to contribute to the employees' provident fund.

Those opting for the new scheme would not forfeit what they have contributed to the existing pension scheme, but would have it frozen until they are 55 years old. Their final pension would thus be affected by length of service and final salary before incorporation as well as after incorporation.

The new arrangements will require amendments to the Pensions Act, which should take place during the summer session of the Malaysian parliament.

A senior professor would be earning a basic monthly salary of M$7,488 (Pounds 1,804) and fixed allowances of M$8,577 making a total of M$16,063 compared with the current M$13,180, representing an increase of M$2,885. At the lower end of the scale the monthly starting salary of a lecturer will rise by M$530 to M$3,176.

The scheme will also cover university hospital staff, with increments depending on individual performance.

A subsidiary company to UM will be set up to enable medical lecturers to conduct practical research. They will be paid for their services according to rates fixed by the university's board of directors.

University managers believe the additional independence and the ability to generate income like other businesses will reap benefits through greater flexibility. But the move has been opposed by many academics who fear for the potential loss of educational values.

Perspective, page 15

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