‘No quota, cable in public varsities’

PUTRAJAYA: Just days after the results for the 2022 intake into public universities were released, many students took to social media to vent about not getting into their chosen courses despite scoring high cumulative grade point averages (CGPA).

Clearing the air on claims of “quota systems”, Higher Education Ministry director-general Prof Datuk Dr Husaini Omar said competition to get into public universities was very competitive this year, more so with the limited seats available.

Dismissing claims that there was a quota system or candidates using “cables” to get a seat in public universities, especially for popular courses such as medicine, accounting, law and engineering, he said offers were made based on meritocracy.

Dr Husaini was responding to claims made by applicants who were upset with the results released by the Central University Admission Unit (UPU) Online on Sept 25.

Those unsuccessful have until Oct 4 to appeal.

A Malaysian polytechnic graduate with a CGPA of 3.96 has claimed not being able to get any offers for engineering in public universities but was offered a place for manufacturing or mechanical engineering at two UK universities on UK-based application portal, Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

There were also other cases of students claiming to be scoring more than 3.90 CGPA yet not being offered a seat of their choice.

UPU Online is the portal for school leavers to apply for courses in Malaysia’s 20 public universities.

The portal is used by Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) Form Six students, Matriculation, Sijil Tinggi Agama Malaysia (STAM) leavers, diploma holders and various other categories such as A-levels and polytechnic diploma holders to enter undergraduate courses at public universities.

There are a total of 1,088 courses offered, of which 293 require applicants to pass an interview or an exam.

Meanwhile, the ministry’s IPTA Student Intake Division director Wahi Nordin said there were only 680 seats available for medicine across all the public universities but 1,931 applicants listed it as their first choice in the UPU Online system.

“A total of 1,841 of them are eligible for the course but only 692 were offered spots.

“Extra places were later made available after some universities agreed to increase their seats,” he explained.

Husaini and Wahi were speaking to reporters at a special briefing at the ministry yesterday.

Husaini said the UPU Online portal received 115,477 applications for the 2022/2023 academic session but only 90,745 candidates met the eligibility requirements.

Some 8,000 out of 71,615 of those offered places scored a CGPA of 4.00.

The “first filter” used to determine whether an applicant was successful was their merit score, Wahi said.

UPU calculates an applicant’s merit score, which is used to determine the applicant’s rank among his or her peers, before checking to see whether the specific course requirements set by the chosen university are met.

In some universities, the applicant is required to pass an interview or an exam.

The CGPA makes up 90% of the merit score with the remaining 10% coming from the applicant’s co-curricular marks.

Wahi said some applicants were unsuccessful because they submitted their applications without getting their most recent Malaysian University English Test (MUET) score.

Other reasons candidates did not get their chosen course could be because the subject combination they selected did not match the course criteria, he said.

He said candidates could choose up to 12 courses offered by public universities in the system and were only allowed to appeal if they did not get any of the courses they selected.

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