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Merit system to cover students now in IPTAs, Dewan Negara told

Utusan Express, 27 November 2001

KUALA LUMPUR Nov 26 - The merit system to be implemented in public higher learning institutions (IPTA) from the 2002/2003 session will also cover students now in IPTAs, the Dewan Negara was told today.

Education Minister Tan Sri Musa Mohamed said that students now in IPTAs were required to obtain a grade point average (GPA) of two and above for each semester.

"If they fail to obtain the minimum grade, their study loans will be suspended until they manage to score the required grade," he said in reply to Senator Melati Ali during question time.

Musa said that Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) holders applying for places in IPTAs would be required to have at least three principals compared to two principals previously.

"The higher minimum qualification applies to all courses offered by the IPTA besides supporting marks for entry which will be increasingly higher each year," he said.

Musa said that the move would hopefully induce the students to concentrate on their studies and strive harder to attain excellence.

Replying to Senator Ghazi Ramli, Musa said that following the implementation of the merit system, marks given for co-curricular activities would only be taken into account in the event that two or more applicants had similar academic qualifications.

He said that it was only proper to place emphasis on academic qualification because entry to universities in any country was based on academic achievement and not marks on co-curricular activities.

The minister said that co-curricular activities would still be made compulsory in schools in line with the national education philosophy which covers academic aspects as well as the spiritual and physical development of students.

However, he said, for entry to IPTAs, emphasis had to be placed on academic achievement to produce graduands of quality.

Musa said that the Higher Education Department of his ministry would monitor the entry of students in IPTAs to ensure that the concept of meritocracy was implemented smoothly.

Still on the issues of students excellent, Paliamentary Secretary of the Education Ministry Datuk Mahadzir Mohd Khir said involvement in extremist and other non-academic activities by students of IPTA have been cited as one of the reasons for their failure in the academic field.

He explained that such external activities had left them with little time for studies.

"At the moment we don't have complete data. However, we received various feedback that they (the students) spend more time on religious activities," he said in response to a question from Abdul Fatah Haron (Pas-Rantau Panjang) at the Dewan Rakyat today.

He said the failure rate of students at all IPTAs and those expelled from the universities was about one percent of the total population of 277,083 university students or about 2,500 students a year.

"The number of students who fail each semester and placed under probation is actually more that is between five and 10 percent every year.

Abdul Fatah earlier wanted to know the number of students who failed due to their involvement in religious activities from 1998 until now.

Replying to a supplementary question from Abdul Fatah, Mahadzir said the ministry did not prevent any religious activities but felt that students should give priority to their studies.

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