In October last year, Prime Minister had announced in his maiden budget speech that beginning 2010, all university students taking the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loan would be able to covert the said loan to full scholarships, should they graduate with first-class honours.
This new policy was much welcomed as it means that those who have excelled in their studies will be rewarded.
Recently, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said that according to PTPTN, about 2,000 students qualified for scholarships worth RM73mil.
"As of June 24, only 1,200 first class honours students from 18 IPT had applied for scholarships worth RM26mil."
The conversion of PTPTN loan to full scholarship for graduates with first class honours is actually not a new policy. It was in practice until it was scrapped in 2005.
As a result of the scrapping, those who have graduated with first class honours in 2006 to 2009 have missed out the benefit of converting their loans to scholarships.
Prime Minister’s reintroduction of the policy has brought joy to many but has also been seen as being unfair to those who have graduated in 2006 to 2009.
It is laudable that the Prime Minister has this year taken extra efforts to reward those who have excelled in their studies, including giving out incentives to those who are not from the government schools.
But why has the government forgotten about these top graduates of 2006 to 2009 who could have had their PTPTN loans converted to full scholarship if not because of the government’s unwise decision to scrape the policy? ?
I don’t know the number of first class honours graduates for the period who were entitled for the loan conversion benefit, but it can be safely said that the figure will be around 2000 per year.
This is surely within the financial means of the government and there is no reason why the conversion of PTPTN loan to full scholarship policy cannot be applied to those who have graduated with first class honours in 2006 to 2009.