Is Ptptn On The Brink Of Collapse

It was at an Iftar fest at Ara Damansara, organised by an aeronautics training centre, where I met a friend who is a senior aircraft engineer. Several MRO (maintenance, repair, overhaul) industry experts were at the event too
After enjoying a spread of traditional local delights, we had teh tarik and a chat. We spoke about the mushrooming of campuses, sky-rocketing education fees and the PTPTN (National Higher Education Fund Corporation) debt, which was becoming a national crisis
My friend poured his heart out to me about students falling prey to private institutions which mislead them. Education has become another commodity to make money, he quipped
My aircraft engineer friend stressed that PTPN should only provide loans for niche skills and with about 600,000 unemployed graduates flooding the job market, the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) must be careful and only give accreditation to niche skills
Due to easy access to PTPTN loans, private universities and colleges use those loans as a benchmark for their pricing and would not lower the fee of their programmes
Private institutions should be more professional, he said, citing as an example where those who did not do the aircraft maintenance professional ‘licensing” programme would not be allowed to work on operating aircraft
But the irony is, institutions that offer diploma courses in aircraft maintenance are given PTPTN loans. Why are students being made to waste time studying a course of little, if any, professional value, he questioned. It is unfair to put students in this predicament
The future of the job market won’t be about diplomas or degrees, but about professional job skills, he reiterated. There is a mismatch between job opportunities and diplomas or degrees
Parents waste thousands of ringgit to educate their children, but they can’t find the right job. We are in an era of a skills-driven economy and youths armed with niche skills would be highly employable
I wish to take on the issue highlighted by my friend. The MQA must be headed by visionary people. The MQA should not give accreditation to diplomas and degrees that are fast becoming irrelevant for our society
The country is currently facing a skills gap. The tight labour market no longer requires applicants to have a college degree. The government took on massive borrowing for the scheme. MQA must be thorough in accrediting courses and setting high standards for the purpose
I strongly suggest the PTPTN loans be given directly to the parents and repayment starts immediately after disbursement. PTPTN should promote the SSPN (National Education Savings Scheme)
PTPTN must not be solely dependent on government funding. It should invest in properties (apartments), which can be rented out to students
The PTPTN is a rolling fund. If borrowers don’t pay back, there would be no funds to pass on to the next batch of students wanting to study in tertiary institutions
My fundamental argument is that students must have the moral obligation to repay. PTPTN defaulters owe RM40 billion in outstanding repayments. Borrowers who did not take their debts seriously are a burden to the government
If the situation continues, the repercussions will be felt mainly by those intending to borrow. Since its establishment, PTPTN has helped finance more than three million students and now PTPTN is in need of help
The government cannot provide everything for free. Sure, the cost of living has gone up, but that does not mean borrowers can deliberately refuse to pay
PTPTN requires approximately RM5 billion in repayment each year to meet the funding requirements of new student loans. The main focus is now to make students repay their debt, to look for solutions like reinstating a travel blacklist for loan defaulters, or imposing mandatory salary deductions on PTPTN loan defaulters.I don’t think the government wants to write off the RM40 billion debt and start from scratch
M VIVEK served as an aide to several former MIC deputy ministers. - Mkini

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