KUALA LUMPUR, April 10 — Students who scored 9A+ or above in last year's SPM will automatically be offered Education Ministry bursaries for local pre-varsity courses, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said today.
The education minister said while the government was restrained financially, it had decided to give aid this year to all 1,609 students who made the grade in 2011.
Bursaries are on offer for STPM, government-approved matriculation and foundation programmes, International Baccalaureate (IB) or A-Levels courses.
Those who successfully complete these courses will retain sponsorship for their first degree starting 2014 if they attain a CGPA of at least 3.5 and secure places in courses and institutions recognised by the Public Services Department (PSD).
Muhyiddin (picture) , who is also the deputy prime minister, said 50 SPM top scorers chosen on academic merit will be sent overseas to further their studies at world-renowned universities recognised by the government.
Another 300 will be sponsored by PSD to study engineering in Japan, South Korea, France and Germany to increase transfer of knowledge from “innovative, creative and competitive” nations, he said.
He disclosed that the government will spend a total of RM2.12 billion to fund students entering local and overseas universities this year.
Further details can be found on the Education Ministry's website from April 16.
Putrajaya's decision to grant bursaries to SPM high-flyers today comes after weeks of increased opposition pressure on the Najib administration over student loans and the sliding quality of local education.
Pakatan Rakyat (PR) has pledged to provide free tertiary education to all Malaysians when it comes to power, an offer the government says will bankrupt the nation.
Students groups have also called for the abolishment of higher education loans, which they say places undue financial burden on graduates.
The government's decision also comes less than a year after the government said it would limit PSD scholarships to university entrants only from 2012.
The PSD had also proposed to limit the amount of aid handed out given the ever increasing number of SPM straight-As scorers.