Jeffrey Kitingan: Sabah firm on resolving prolonged salary cuts for UCSF staff

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government is determined to resolve the financial woes that forced University College Sabah Foundation (UCSF) management to cut salaries by half for its over 140 academic staff since last September.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan (pic) said the low student intake following the Covid-19 pandemic created financial constraints for the college under state-owned Yayasan Sabah, the state's largest timber concession holder.

“Yayasan Sabah is heavily reliant on timber money. The system worked previously, but now we are moving forward, and the way forward is to conserve and protect our natural resources rather than deplete or cut them down, ” he said.

“The Gabungan Rakyat Sabah government will nurse the Sabah Foundation back to financial health, which was messed up by the previous government, ” added Jeffrey.

He said that when it comes to the UCSF, the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah state government has a vision to lift the university’s standard to a global level.

Jeffrey also said that steps are being taken to help affected UCSF staff who recently highlighted their plight.

He said financial concerns of its university college were also affecting the foundation’s credibility.

On Wednesday (April 21), Chief Minister Datuk Seri Haji Hajiji Noor vowed to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

He said it was the state government's hope to raise UCSF's level to a global standard.

“The future is digital and as more and more conventional jobs are replaced by machines, the UCSF has the responsibility to prepare our younger generation to be future technopreneurs, ” he said.

On this, Jeffrey said that the government intends to elevate UCSF to the status of a university and explore opportunities to offer its courses online as well as to open its doors to foreign students while retaining low tuition fees for Sabahans.

He added that he hopes this transition would result in the university college having better financial health, hiring and training better academics and fulfilling its vision of creating beneficial novelties in education and scholarship, research, and innovation.

"Besides, we can raise more revenue by keeping UCSF rather than cutting it," he added.

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