The Youth and Sports Ministry is holding talks with a government-linked company to set up a sports university through a public-private partnership with a model institution in the United Kingdom, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.
Its minister, Khairy Jamaluddin, said the setting up of the university was not a priority as the Government was striving to reduce the country's deficit.
He said the university would cater to athletes who were at a disadvantage when pursuing higher studies, as their training schedules clashed with classes conducted in normal universities.
"The sports university could provide flexible schedules to athletes to pursue higher studies," he said when replying a supplementary question from Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin (PKR-Bukit Katil).
Khairy said the sports industry contributed 5% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) last year.
To a question from Mohd Fasiah Mohd Fakeh (BN-Sabak Bernam), Khairy said 350 athletes from sports schools had represented the country in 18 international sports events, from the 1998 Commonwealth Games until the London Olympic Games 2012, contributing a medal haul of 101 gold, 93 silver and 89 bronze medals.
He said they included Pandelela Rinong and Leong Mun Yee (both diving), Mohd Azizul Awang (cycling) and Tan Boon Heong (badminton).
Khairy said the opening of another sports school in Gambang, Pahang, last year would help polish more prospective athletes for international meets.
A talent search for children between seven and 12 years is being carried out with the assistance of the Education Ministry, he added. - Bernama, October 2, 2013.