Admissions to public varsities not based solely on academic merit, says Khaled Nordin

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KUALA LUMPUR: Admissions into public higher learning institutions are not based solely on merit, says Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin.


The Higher Education Minister said that several other factors such as available spots and passing pre-course interviews are also taken into consideration.

He added that the offering of courses at 20 public higher learning institutions, four skill training institutes (ILKAs), 36 polytechnics and 105 community colleges are done under the coordination of UPUOnline.

“Generally, the offering of these study programmes are subject to merit arrangement, the choice of study programmes, fulfilling the general and specific programme requirements, the number of available spots as well as passing interviews and examinations for programmes that have such requirements,” he said in a Parliamentary written reply to Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham (PH-Beruas).

Ngeh had asked the Higher Education Ministry to explain why a high number of excellent students who obtained straight A’s in all subjects did not receive any offers for the courses they had applied for, especially professional courses.

Khaled said that for the 2022/2023 academic session, there were 8,662 outstanding candidates who completed their STPM or equivalent with a CGPA of 4.00 applying through UPUOnline.

“This situation has resulted in intense competition to secure a place in universities,” he said.

“For example, in medicine, a total of 1,931 candidates applied for this programme as their first choice in the UPUOnline system. From the total, 1,841 candidates qualified to compete for 680 available spots in the program,” said Khaled.


He then added that the success rate in this programme is approximately 37.59%.

Citing another example, he cited the accounting programme for the 2022/2023 academic session at the Universiti of Malaya (UM), where the cutoff merit is 100%.

“There were 1,148 applications received to fill 120 spots. Out of the total, 1,015 candidates qualified to compete, resulting in a success rate of 11.82% based on the number of placements,” said Khaled Noordin.

He added that at Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) there were 270 available spots with 772 applicants for the same programme.

“Therefore, even though students have high merits, the competition is fierce to secure the limited placements,” said Khaled.

“The same situation also applies to other competitive programmes such as dentistry, pharmacy, law, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, electronic engineering, chemical engineering, and civil engineering,” he added.

– The Star

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