THE availability of various scholarships from Sarawak government has boosted student enrolment at University of Technology Sarawak (UTS).
In noting the increase in the number of students, UTS chairman Dr Annuar Rapaee is optimistic that the state-owned university in Sibu can achieve its target of 4,000 students by 2024 or even earlier.
He said the university’s students admission had surpassed records since its establishment 10 years ago.
“Some 750 new students have already begun their studies while another 265 are slated to start next September,” he told reporters after the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between UTS and Hock Peng Group.
He said if the rate of enrolment continued at between 1,200 and 1,400 students per year, the university could hit the target very soon.
Among the education aid is UTS Foundation Scholarship. It is funded by Sarawak government and covers a tuition fee of RM10,000 per student.
The second state incentive for Sarawakians to pursue higher education is the UTS Undergraduate and Postgraduate Scholarships.
This special scholarship scheme bears 50% of the tuition fees in all undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.
Based on a five-year projection, providing for the scholarships involves a commitment of RM17.2mil to RM27mil per year.
Meanwhile, the UTS Bursary Scheme will bear 80% of the tuition fees for Sarawakian students at UTS from the B40 and M40 groups.
However, the scheme is limited to 200 students a year.
Furthermore, under the MOU with Hock Peng Group, UTS students from underprivileged communities will be able to apply for education grants from Hock Peng Group, through its Toh Li Hua Foundation.
“The scholarship schemes provided by the state government is one of the factors that resulted in the big increase in the number of students at UTS,” said Dr Annuar who is also Sarawak Education, Innovation and Talent Development Deputy Minister.
Following the increase in student population now, he said the university would need to increase the number of facilities.
“When the number of students increases, UTS will face various issues such as academic staff and facilities including student hostels.
“I am very concerned about this matter because UTS provides opportunities for students who are unable to continue their studies at a public higher education institution,” he added.
Dr Annuar said he had related the matter to Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg and UTS vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Khairuddin Abdul Hamid.
Also present at the MOU signing were Hock Peng managing director Datuk Toh Chiew Hock and deputy managing director Datuk Dr Francis Toh Chiew Peng, who is also a Pemanca (community leader).
The MOU is a renewal of the company’s support for less fortunate students. The grant of RM6,000 per student per year has benefitted 108 students since 2013.