WE refer to the article published in StarEducation on Feb 28 on the issue of late payment of National Higher Education Fund Corporation (NHEFC) loans. A number of points were raised by National Association of Private Education Institutions (Napei) president Dr Mohamed Thalha Alithamby, a few private higher education institutions and members of the public, which we would like to respond to.
Firstly, we would like to thank The Star for highlighting the views, problems and concerns of those who have had dealings with the NHEFC. We are aware that there are weaknesses, and there are a number of problematic cases in which loans have taken a long time to be processed.
The increase in loan applications handled by the NHEFC each year – compared to other government agencies such as Mara, the Public Services Department and state foundations – has made NHEFC the country’s main government agency for securing study loans.
There are at present 572,256 loan recipients (as at December 2003) and this figure is expected to increase by about 120,000 a year. It is, therefore, evident that the NHEFC has the important role of ensuring that only eligible students benefit from the agency.
From time to time, the NHEFC endeavours to minimise and resolve problems faced by applicants through its Public Relations and Complaints Unit. The upgrading of NHEFC services has been achieved through changes in procedures and policies such as:
For the May 2003 intake into public universities, NHEFC processed a total of 64,674 loan applications within the stipulated two-week time frame, resulting in the disbursement of RM356.5mil worth of loans. This was possible because the application forms were filled out properly. This shows the NHEFC’s commitment in ensuring that students receive their loans promptly.
At the same time, if all private higher education institutions agree to have two intakes (as is the case with public universities), NHEFC proposes to use the same methods of processing loan applications applied to public universities.
At present, private institutions of higher learning all have different intake dates, resulting in complications for students who apply for loans.
The NHEFC also wants to make it clear that for every new semester, loan payments will only be disbursed after the university or college has confirmed the academic status of the loan recipient. As such, each institution will have to give an update on the academic status of the student to the NHEFC office at the start of each semester.
Unfortunately, problems arise for a few reasons:
We would also like to address the issues brought up by Equator Academy of Art in Penang. The NHEFC has only received a total of nine applications from students of the college between Nov 18, 2002 and April 16, 2004. Five applications were approved and the rest rejected because they did not satisfy a condition specified by NHEFC – three SPM credits.
However, in the case of Taylor’s college, the NHEFC received 107 applications from Aug 22, 2002 to Feb 2, 2004. A total of 73 applications were approved and 34 others rejected either because the student did not meet the academic criteria or the course applied for was not approved.
In reference to Dr Mohamad Thalha’s comments, the NHEFC will take into consideration his suggestions, views and criticisms. For your information, the NHEFC has regular dialogues with education bodies like the Malaysian Association of Private Colleges and Universities and the National Association of Bumiputra Colleges to trash out problems and discuss possible solutions.
We at NHEFC are very open and would like to welcome Dr Mohamad Thalha, as Napei president, to discuss issues Napei may have with regards to the NHEFC.
We are aware that the Corporation must work with the management of public universities, private colleges and students in order to overcome problems. Such cooperation and understanding among the parties involved will ensure mutual benefit and contribute to the realisation of our national education aims.
The NHEFC would also like to take this opportunity to advise students who are interested in furthering their education at any private institution of higher learning to check and make sure that their course is approved by both the ministry’s Private Education Department and the National Accreditation Board, as this is a prerequisite of the NHEFC in approving loans. For enquiries or complaints on the approval status of courses, call our Public Affairs Division at 03-2098 3940, 03-2098 6587 or 03-2098 6588
NOORA MOHD YUSOFF
Public affairs officer
For the chief executive
National Higher Education Fund Corporation
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