by BERNAMA/ FILE PIX
The Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM)’s development plan and efforts to produce graduates to handle challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to be hampered if the 2021 Budget allocation to the institution is halved.
UiTM’s Centre for Media and Information Warfare Studies director Prof Datuk Dr Ismail Sualman said that as the largest institution in Malaysia, with 35 campuses and more than 100,000 students nationwide, it requires a large allocation to balance student quotas and campus needs.
“When there is a certain reduction (in allocation), it will hinder our efforts to strengthen UiTM. We are currently pursuing the world’s top 500 targets. If allocations are to be halved here and there, we worry that it will hamper our planning.
“As the largest and well-known bumiputera institution, many plans need to be implemented to elevate UiTM to be on a par with other world-leading universities, and that requires the development of digital infrastructure and infostructure (communication and technology),” he told Bernama.
UiTM, in the 2021 Budget, has been proposed to receive an allocation of RM1.1732 billion, a reduction of RM129 million compared with RM1.861 billion announced in the 2020 Budget.
Ismail stressed that UiTM still needs to increase research and development for a new learning syllabus in line with the COVID-19 pandemic, so that graduates are able to secure employment instead of being unemployed.
Sharing the same sentiment, Mass Communications (Masscom) alumni secretary, Haniff Ghazali, was of the view that the pandemic has changed everything, including a syllabus reshuffle as part of the preparations for students to face working environments in the new norms.
“In the COVID-19 era, there will be careers that are wiped out and new ones will emerge. Hence, UiTM needs to develop personality and identity in its graduates if it wants to position them as contributors to the economy.
“It is useless if there is a new ‘wisma’ (building) or office but the graduates still have their ‘jaguh kampung’ (village champion) mindset and do not think global.
“We are complicit if we repeat the same old things when UiTM contributes to the dumping of unemployed graduates on the market. Hence, the development of education, identity, spirituality and personality is crucial, not just physical,” he explained.
Meanwhile, UiTM Academic Association (UTIMAS) president Associate Prof Abd Rahim Awang said that the reduction in allocation would affect the teaching and learning process as well as research opportunities and cooperation with outside communities.
He believes that this is one of the things that needs to be reconsidered because it will hinder the development of the university, which requires large financial allocations as well as joint ventures and support from other funds.
The reduction in allocation to UiTM was also raised by former education minister Dr Maszlee Malik during a debate in Parliament recently in which, among other things, he believed that it would hinder the development of the university as well as its students.