Nazri says ending scholarships may stop brain drain
KUALA LUMPUR, June 16 — Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz has defended the government’s plans to redeploy bright students to study locally instead of overseas, arguing that this could prevent a further “brain-drain” of talent.
“Sending overseas students causes brain-drain where some of them won’t want to come back after studying there for a few years.
“If you keep sending students overseas, when are we going to improve our standards (locally)?” Nazri told The Malaysian Insider earlier this week.
He also believed that the money saved from the scrapping of the Public Service Department’s (PSD) overseas scholarships will be put to better use in “improving the facilities” of local universities.
The Minister in the Prime Minister’s department said that if the federal government keeps sponsoring billions of ringgit for students to go abroad to study, local universities would never get to improve.
Nazri claimed that by channelling funds as well as the country’s brightest students within the confines of local universities, the “infrastructure” as well as quality of these institutions would gradually improve.
“We are concentrating on increasing the number of local universities, learning institutions at home. The money can be better off used to improve facilities here,” said Nazri.
In an interview with The Malaysian Insider, the law minister reiterated his points made two days ago in Parliament that the issue of cutting off scholarships was really a “question of affordability.”
Nazri refuted arguments brought up by MCA Youth chief Datuk Dr. Wee Ka Siong that the government should opt to maintain the allotted 1,500 scholarships for undergraduate students and instead make the criteria of awarding the scholarships more transparent. “Wee does not understand. It is not a matter of defining the criteria.
“The question here is affordability. As the government, we have to allocate resources according to priority, and we have to also take into consideration the critical mass,” said Nazri.
Nazri’s remarks come after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s confirmation yesterday that the government will eventually phase out overseas undergraduate scholarships.
Najib had said that government will focus on building more institutions of higher learning to accommodate the increasing number of undergraduates.
Nazri himself had first highlighted the issue when he revealed in Parliament a few days ago that the Cabinet had decided to eventually scrap the 1,500 scholarships offered to students for undergraduate studies overseas.
He had noted that the 1,200 of the 1,500 presently offered to the students would slowly be phased out from next year onwards.
Nazri also brushed off concerns that the standards of public examinations in Malaysia had dropped drastically, therefore resulting in too many students scoring excellent results before entering university.
“I don’t think that the standards have gone down. The students are now getting better. They are scoring good results,” said Nazri to The Malaysian Insider.