PTPTN 60 percent Bumiputra students in higher

PTPTN
or known as student loans have become an important part of the Malaysia higher
education landscape. It increases access to higher education for students from poorer
backgrounds, by enabling them to pay for their higher education. The needs
PTPTN was supposed to meet is the social equity in which all groups of people
have the same status to access to higher education. However, equity is not
realized because PTPTN is a loan, it put interest burden or pressure to the poor.

Typically,
the loan repayment is deferred until the student is graduates, enter the
workforce and become financially capable of repaying it. In Malaysia, student debt
is  on 
the  rise, mainly due to
increasing intake rate  among private universities
and colleges, as well as the rising rate of loan defaulters. As of 2015, Malaysia’s
student debt repayment rate hovered below 50%, with approximately RM8billion worth
of unpaid loans. Out of the 70 countries, Malaysia figures prominently as one that
distributes loans to students and suffers from a low repayment rate.

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There
are some variations in relation to the ethnic composition of students who had
obtained PTPTN loans. In year 2000, it shows the variation that while there
were 60 percent Bumiputra students in higher education, 75.4 percent had
obtained loans from PTPTN. Non-Bumiputra students constituted 40 percent of
total enrolment but only 24.6 percent obtained loans. Also, 44 percent of
Chinese students and 54.5 percent of Indian students received educational
loans. As the loan process utilizes a means-based test, one could conclude that
Bumiputra students are in the lower income band and therefore are more eligible
that non-Bumiputra students.

The increased
access to higher education has not come with equitable patterns of
participation, given the division in the ethnicity of students in the public
and the private sector institutions, the differences in tuition fees and provision
of scholarships. Government scholarships have financed a small segment of
Chinese and Indian students, not in the proportion of their population. Over
the last ten years, loans have been given to assist these two groups, helping
to support their studies in private higher education institutions. The
liberalization of the higher education system in private higher education has allowed
non-Bumiputras to pursue programs that are inaccessible in the public higher
education system, although at high cost to families.

 

The
issue of equity arises when qualified non-Bumiputra students, especially from
disadvantaged backgrounds, cannot access to public higher education and may
never getting in private higher education because it is beyond their ability to
bear the high cost tuition fees. The objective of equity is not free higher
education, but a system in where everyone is entitled to the same level of
access. No any person should be denied a place just because of their
disadvantaged backgrounds or different ethnicity. The provision of scholarships
can improve the situation if they are distributed to all groups based on their
financial ability and performance in university entrance qualifying exams.

The
existence of Bumiputra predominant higher education institutions in the public
sector proves that equitable provision of student financing for all groups is
still a goal. The establishment of PTPTN had offered greater access to loan for
non-Bumiputras students to enrol in the private higher education institutions, though
at much higher fee than in the public higher education institutions. The
highly-subsidized fees for public institutions becomes a relevant area of
review in terms of equitable use of public funds. In 2008 figures show that
Bumiputra students constitute 84 percent of all students in public higher
education institutions and the reverse is true in the private education sector.

It is
difficult to ensure equity for all by providing financial support for students
in both public and private institutions as public higher education is heavily
subsidized by the government. While access to higher education may be increase,
insufficient attention has been paid to the equality of access mechanisms. The
critical aspect of inequality in access lies mainly in the variation of fees
between the public and private sectors.

Malaysia
higher education has grown remarkably into a multi-level diversified system by
2008. There are increase of public and private higher education with great
improvement in access due to factors such as high secondary enrolment and
completion, liberalization of higher education that lead to expanding private
sector; diversified institutional structure (public and private universities,
colleges) for varied groups, the establishment of PTPTN and other funds in
financing higher education institutions. The increased participation has been
in step with growing demand for a qualified and skilled workforce as the
economy grew.

Equitable
treatment for all groups is not just an issue related to numbers although that
is important as those who receive higher education can look forward to better
opportunities for upward mobility and therefore improved life chances for
themselves and their families.

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