Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin has warned that undergraduates at public universities may see their fees go up next year after Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's Budget 2016 introduced deep cuts for the Higher Education Ministry.
Sim, in a statement today, pointed out that the ministry's budget was slashed by RM2.4 billion or 15 percent.
"Such drastic cuts will surely cause the fees of universities to go up. We expect this to happen next year.
"This will affect 534,569 students in public universities. The hike is expected to be around 20 percent to cover the deficit experienced by public universities," said Sim, who is also PKR strategic director.
Sim added this is aggravated by the cut in Higher Education Loan Fund (PTPTN) loans to students since last year.
Sim pointed out the worst hit university was Universiti Malaya (UM), followed by Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, and Universiti Teknologi Mara, whose budgets were slashed by 27.3 percent, 23.76 percent, and 23.72 percent respectively.
Goodbye world rankings
Meanwhile Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari said the education cuts were "disappointing" and will impact our institutions' world standing.
"With the top universities having their budgets slashed by up to 27 percent, how will the ambition of having world-class universities materialise?" he said in a statement.
"Last year, Minister of Higher Education Idris Jusoh boasted that our universities are on track to becoming 'world-class', while making the grand claim that some of our institutions of higher learning are on par with the likes of Oxford University.
"While I do not agree with the minister’s lofty assertions, I do share his aspirations to make our varsities world-class.
"However, in order for much-needed improvements to take place, I am sure more - and not less - investment is required to boost the quality of the academic faculty and develop better research programmes and grants, as well as to upgrade infrastructure and student facilities," said Zairil.
He added it is "shocking" that UM - Malaysia’s premier university - is the "biggest loser" in the cuts, which he said will affect 19 out of 20 public universities with the exception of UKM.
The cuts, he said, coupled with expected increase in intake, would mean that expenditure per student would be reduced dramatically.