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Protection fee a double-edged sword, say educationists

by Peter Boon, reporters@theborneopost.com. Posted on December 17, 2012, Monday

SIBU: The imposition of student protection fees on private institutions of higher learning (IPTS) next year may increase the cost of tertiary education, making it less accessible to a wider community.

An educationist Felician Teo noted while the measure was good, it had obvious repercussions as colleges would inevitably pass on the extra charges to the students.

“The decision by the Higher Education Ministry to require private colleges or IPTS to place bonds with the ministry to protect the interests of students and parents in the event that a college faces closure is a logical next step for the industry.

“When a particular college closes, the bonds would ensure that the college takes the responsibility to place their students to continue their studies in another institution without additional costs.

“Colleges will inevitably pass on the extra charges to the students making private tertiary education becomes less accessible to the wider community,” said Teo, in reacting to the news report that private higher institutions of learning pay student protection fees starting next year.

Bernama quoted Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin as saying the fee was a student protection guarantee if the IPTS closed down.

Beginning next year, private universities, university colleges and foreign university branch campuses would have to pay RM100,000 while private colleges have to fork out RM10,000 as student protection fee.

Khaled was also quoted to have said all IPTS would have to pay the protection fees every five years, when renewing their licences.

Teo said under the proposed amendments to the Private Education Act 1996, new applicants wanting to set up IPTS would also be required to comply with the bond requirement before being issued licences, thus making the entry costs much higher than before.

“However, requiring both new and existing players to post bonds is necessary to ensure that a few black sheep will not sully the hard-earned reputation of the private education industry in the last 25 years,” Teo added.

Sarawak Teachers’ Union (STU) president William Ghani Bina echoed Teo’s view, saying that the move would better protect students’ interest.

“It is a good move to ensure that students and parents are not left in the lurch should the IPTS closes down.”

Ghani, however, said it was important for IPTS not to use this as an excuse to hike their fees as this could burden students.

“Many would not be able to afford private tertiary education if that is the case,” he lamented.

He observed with SCORE coming up, the state would need many highly skilled and academically qualified workers.

Hence, increasing the cost of private tertiary education was certainly not a wise move, he said.

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