Weigh­ing the cost

New Straits Times - - Higher ED - ZULITA MUSTAFA zulita@nst.com.my

HOW much does it cost to pur­sue higher ed­u­ca­tion in the coun­try? Mak­ing sure their chil­dren get a de­gree is so im­por­tant to par­ents here that most are will­ing to spend all their sav­ings and even go into debt to fi­nance their ed­u­ca­tion.

A HSBC Bank study last year stated that 57 per cent of the 411 Malaysian par­ents sur­veyed took up loans to fund their off­spring’s univer­sity ed­u­ca­tion, even with sav­ings in hand. Par­ents in the coun­try spend an av­er­age of RM38,000 a year on their child’s univer­sity ed­u­ca­tion.

How­ever, while the London-based Ex­pert Market sur­vey ranked Malaysia as the fifth most ex­pen­sive coun­try to get a higher ed­u­ca­tion, it also ranked the coun­try as hav­ing the cheap­est tu­ition fees out of the top 10 most ex­pen­sive places for ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion. Look­ing into the income to cost of ed­u­ca­tion ra­tio, it re­ported that par­ents here spend more than half their salary on ed­u­ca­tion.

HOW PAR­ENTS ARE COP­ING

Sheikh Azmir Sheikh Mokhtar, 51, a civil en­gi­neer, said he and his wife make sac­ri­fices for the sake of their chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion.

Their chil­dren, Sheikh Mo­hamed Naim and Nur Iz­zah, are pur­su­ing ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion at Univer­siti Te­knologi Petronas (UTP) and at Univer­siti Te­knologi MARA re­spec­tively.

”I paid for my el­dest son’s foun­da­tion stud­ies in­clud­ing rent for an apart­ment, av­er­ag­ing RM15,000 per year. His pocket money for food, mo­bile phone bills, petrol and car main­te­nance is close to RM1,000 per month.

“He has a car for ease of trans­port on cam­pus and to the nearby town. He rode a bi­cy­cle ini­tially but was ex­posed to the weather. GrabCar and Uber were not in ex­is­tence then,” said Sheikh Azmir.

Now his son’s four-year un­der­grad­u­ate course is funded by a loan of RM93,000 from MARA.

Sheikh Azmir said he bought an ed­u­ca­tion plan for RM2,000 which helped to pay for his daugh­ter’s stud­ies.

”Her tu­ition fees are RM1,200 per year. She used to stay at a hos­tel which cost RM300 per se­mes­ter. But now that she’s stay­ing off cam­pus, her rent is cost RM910 for all pro­grammes ex­cept den­tistry (RM970) and built en­vi­ron­ment (RM1,050).

The to­tal cost of tu­ition fees for non-science cour­ses such as Is­lamic Stud­ies, Malay Stud­ies, Lan­guage and Lin­guis­tic, Eco­nomics and Ad­min­is­tra­tion, Ed­u­ca­tion, Busi­ness and Ac­count­ing, Arts and So­cial Sciences, Law, and Cul­tural Stud­ies are in the range of RM7,500 to RM9,800. Science pro­grammes like Den­tistry, Medicine, Ar­chi­tec­ture, Engi­neer­ing, Com­puter Science and In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy, and Sports, cost be­tween RM8,000 and RM15,000 for the three to four years of stud­ies.

”Pro­grammes such as Engi­neer­ing and Den­tistry cost more be­cause of the ac­cess to fa­cil­i­ties such as lab­o­ra­tory, tech­ni­cal equip­ment and the longer du­ra­tion of study,” said Fatima.

Sun­way Ed­u­ca­tion Group se­nior ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Dr El­iz­a­beth Lee said its univer­sity fees vary from pro­gramme to pro­gramme and the length of the course. Sun­way Col­lege and Sun­way Univer­sity pro­grammes range from pre-univer­sity and fi­nan­cial cour­ses to diploma, de­gree and the Amer­i­can De­gree Trans­fer pro­grammes.

”Ed­u­ca­tion coun­sel­lors ad­vise students on the right pro­gramme for them. They also coun­sel students and their par­ents on the fees and pay­ment schemes avail­able.

“Mind­ful of the in­creased cost of liv­ing, we have made a con­scious de­ci­sion not to fur­ther bur­den fam­i­lies by main­tain­ing our pro­gramme fees where pos­si­ble.

”Sun­way pro­grammes are more af­ford­able than study­ing over­seas, es­pe­cially in light of the weaker ring­git. It is in­deed more cost-ef­fec­tive to pur­sue pre-univer­sity and un­der­grad­u­ate stud­ies at Sun­way, and ob­tain dual cer­tifi­cates on com­ple­tion of its de­gree pro­grammes, val­i­dated by Lan­caster Univer­sity,” said Lee.

Sun­way’s fees range be­tween RM47,000 and RM100,000 for cour­ses such as Amer­i­can De­gree Pro­gramme, Bach­e­lor of Science (Hons), Ac­count­ing and Fi­nance. Those who want to study over­seas can pur­sue a twinning de­gree pro­gramme un­der Vic­to­ria Univer­sity at Sun­way and opt to trans­fer at

Sheikh Azmir Sheikh Mokhtar

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