DAP calls on Cabinet to further expand public universities intake this year by  some 2,000  new places from 38,892  to  41,000 students, including 128 new medical places to cater to  the applications by all the top scorers

when opening the DAP Ipoh Timor parliamentary constituency service centre
by Lim Kit Siang

(Ipoh, Saturday): The statistics given by the Higher Education Department director Prof Datuk Dr. Hassan Said on Thursday on the public universities intake this year revealed that as many as 128 students with top grades for their STPM and matriculation examinations failed to get into medicine in public universities because of the stiff competition and the limited number of places available.  

Among the sciences, competition for the 779 places for medicine was the toughest – 14% of applicants with the maximum Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.0 who put medicine as their first choice did not get a place.  

The cut-off point for medicine is 4.0 this year compared to 3.88 last year.  Out of the total of 1,774 students who obtained the maximum CGPA, more than half of them applied to do medicine.

Many students with excellent results also failed to get into other competitive science courses like dentistry and pharmacy because of the higher cut-off points this year, partly due to a spillover of students who missed the cut for medicine. 

It is heart-rending to read of cases like Murrali Silvarajoo from Bagan Ajam, Butterworth, who was devastated that his 5As in the STPM with CGPA of 4.0 could not guarantee and qualify him to do medicine but was instead offered a place to study chemical engineering at Universiti Malaya, his sixth choice!

DAP calls on the Cabinet on Wednesday to  further expand public universities intake this year  by some 2,000 new places from 38,892 to 41,000 students, including 128 new medical places to cater to the applications of all the top scorers, including cases like Murrali Silvarajoo.

I am very surprised that there is only a 5% increase in the public university student intake this year from last year’s 37,034 to 38,892, when last year there was a 16% increase in the student intake from 32,752 in 2002  to 37,034.  Can the Ministry of Higher Education explain why there was a 16%  increase of 5,282 student intake into the public universities  before the general election, which  was immediately shrunken to 1,888  or 5% after the March 21 general election?

These shocking statistics could be derived from the following chart: 


Public University Intake Under “Merit” System 2002 - 2004-05-29

                            2002                            2003                        2004                           

                        No       Percent           No       Percent           No       Percent 

Bumiputera        22,557     68.9          23,182       62.6          24,837       63.8 
Chinese              8,665     26.4          11,921       32.2          11,778       30.3 
Indians               1,530      4.7            1,931         5.2           2,277         5.9
Total                32,752      100          37,034        100          38,892        100


I would have thought that there would be greater emphasis including a bigger increase in the public universities student intake this year after the establishment of a Ministry of Higher Education, but the reverse seems to be the case!

This shrinkage of public universities student intake smacks of a clear breach of the Barisan Nasional’s general election promise to expand more higher education opportunities in the public universities and to turn Malaysia into an international centre of educational excellence.

Furthermore, it is also contrary to the higher education objectives of the  Eighth Malaysia Plan (2001-2005), which projects a 44% increase of degree-level enrolment at the tertiary level in the five-year span  from 201,271 in 2,000 to 289,806 in 2005.  

Can the Minister for Higher Education, Dr. Shafie Salleh, explain why there was a 16 per cent increase in the public universities student intake before the general election, but only a 5% increase immediately after the landslide victory in the March 21 general election, after the Barisan Nasional had won  unprecedented 90.4 per cent control of the 219 parliamentary seats? 

One would have thought that in appreciation of the landslide electoral victory, there would be a higher percentage of increase in the  public universities student intake instead of the reverse!

If the government is serious about the Eighth Malaysia Plan commitment on “efforts to expand the absorptive capacity of public institutions of learning” to  invest in human capital in tune with the challenges of a K-economy where the highest priority must be given to talents, creativity, skills and innovation, the Cabinet should expand the public universities intake by some 2,000 places  from 38,892 to  41,000 new students. 

This would mean an increase of only some 10.7 per cent in the public universities intake for this year, which is still far short of the 16 per cent increase last year before the 2004 general election!

The current meeting of Parliament has been extended by three days, because the government wants to present a new batch of supplementary estimates for this year for debate and approval.

The Cabinet on Wednesday should decide on a certificate of urgency  the  increase in the public universities student intake this year by some 2,000 new places  to 41,000 places, including 128 new medical places, and ensure that this new expenditure is incorporated into the new batch of supplementary estimates to be tabled, debated and approved by Parliament in the second week of next month.

DAP calls on all MPs, whether Barisan Nasional, Barisan Alternative or DAP, to give unanimous support to approve supplementary budgetary estimates to increase the public universities student intake by some 2,000 additional places for the benefit of all Malaysians, regardless of race or religion.


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor & DAP National Chairman