Institution sees drop in donations

Southern University College’s fifth golf tournament raised about RM30,000.

JOHOR BARU: A “silent” Hungry Ghost month this year has left a huge impact on Johor’s non-profit Southern University College (SUC), which saw a drop of about 99% in public donations.

Its board of directors chairman Datuk Vincent Tan said the pandemic had led to the cancellation of many large-scale events, which in turn contributed to the decrease in public donations received by the higher education institute.

He said outdoor stage shows or ge tai, typically held during the Hungry Ghost Festival, were some of the ways Chinese associations used to raise funds, in which an amount would be pledged for charity and education purposes.

“The cancellation of these events, including the university college’s own annual Hungry Ghost do was a big hit for us.

“SUC usually receives about RM250,000 to RM300,000 from various associations through such events but this year, we only received a donation of RM3,000,” he told StarMetro.

The Hungry Ghost Festival or Zhong Yuan Festival runs throughout the seventh lunar month, from Aug 19 to Sept 16 this year.

Tan said SUC had to turn to its annual golf tournament, which was previously held for networking purposes, to raise funds to keep the institution running.

The golf tournament, in its fifth year this time round and held on Sept 16 in conjunction with Malaysia Day, raised about RM30,000, he said.

He added that 128 golfers took part in the one-day event, which was also attended by Johor Financial Officer Datuk A. Rahim Nin.

“We hope to raise RM1mil in our upcoming SUC 45th anniversary dinner on Nov 28, which will be downsized to comply with the government’s Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOP),” he said.

On another matter, Tan said some 300 new students had enrolled for this semester, which was a drop from last year’s figure of 450.

“We believe some parents are still concerned about letting their children attend physical classes in light of Covid-19 but I would like to assure them that we comply with the necessary SOP and disinfect the campus regularly.

“The drop is also contributed by the lack of new students from overseas as cross-border travel is still restricted globally.

“However, our existing international students are allowed to resume classes,” he said.

Tan added that SUC previously recorded about 50 new international students each year from Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, China and African countries, enrolling in information technology, business studies, Chinese and English courses at its campus in Skudai.

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