Impact of budget cuts on universities
The country aspires to be an important hub for higher education and is always hopeful for more universities to be listed in top 200 in the world. However, the impact of the recent budget cut on education especially those of the public universities is worsening.
It is a common sight now to see students doing odd jobs (like car washing and selling food, books, flowers and anything worth selling) to help raise funds for their university projects since universities could no longer support them as they used to in the past.
If the government says it has not as much money to give to education (hence, the budget cut), the industries are also giving similar reasons and sometimes excuses for not giving to university programmes. It is sad that our society has not quite the giving culture like those in other countries (but we do not want to migrate there).
In general, Malaysians are generous in giving to religious and charitable causes but not to help sustain quality education in this country which unfortunately runs on big and good money. Top universities in the West are well-supported by donations given by philanthropists and corporations.
Apparently in Malaysia, giving tax exemptions is not enough. Probably it would be attractive to publicise corporations which are generous in supporting tertiary education in Malaysia and measure the impact of giving. What is urgent is creating the awareness that quality things run on big money. Like handbags.
I wish to appeal to government agencies, public sectors and individuals not to turn away from appeals for support from universities (especially university staff and students). We should not be treated like beggars every time we knock on your doors to support our programmes at the university. Our success also relies on your willingness to assist us.
PROF DR NOR FARIDAH ABDUL MANAF is with Universiti Islam Antarabangsa (UIA) Malaysia.