PKR strategic director Sim Tze Zin today warned that the RM1.4 billion cut in government allocation for local public universities under the 2016 Budget may lead to a further loss of support from youth for BN.
"In the 13th general election, Umno/BN only obtained 46 percent support from youths between the ages of 21 and 25.
"Budget cuts for their education two years in a row will raise further doubts among this group," said the Bayan Baru MP in a statement.
He said the move will make it appear as if the government has ‘given up’ on trying to secure support from the youths, particularly undergraduates who are mostly educated and are capable of rational thought.
Noting the government is going ahead with plans to further reduce dependency of local universities on federal funding, Sim said the situation is a case of mistaken priorities in terms of national budgeting.
"The government should have prioritised higher education for youths (in drafting the budget).
"The prime minister-cum-finance minister, however, has decided to slash RM1.4 billion in allocations for public universities but at the same time increasing the Prime Minister's Department's budget by RM1 billion," he said.
Sim said it is still not too late as Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has an opportunity to correct the mistake by tabling a motion in the Dewan Rakyat next week.
He urged Najib to propose reducing the Prime Minister's Department's budget by RM1.4 billion and re-channeling the funds to local universities.
PM's promise misleading
Sim also described Najib's promise yesterday that the government will consider increasing allocations for local universities if they are able to produce highly marketable graduates as ‘misleading’.
"His statement seems to imply that our local public universities are not up to par. But at the same time, the fact is that Universiti Malaya suffered the highest budget cut at 27.3%.
"Is the government questioning Universiti Malaya's status as the country's premier public university?” queried Sim.
Najib had said the marketability of graduates in the job market should be a key performance indicator (KPI) for public universities and this has been agreed upon to be part of the national higher education development blueprint.
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