Bill on Auku amendments expected to be tabled this year, says Higher Education Minister

PUTRAJAYA: The Bill regarding the proposed amendments of Sections 15 and 16 under the Universities and University Colleges Act (Auku) 1971, which will give freedom to students in several matters, is expected to be tabled in Parliament this year.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said the draft Bill will be sent to the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) for approval in mid-June.

"The sections (to be amended) have been identified and are being refined.

"The ministry is finalising clauses involving students and will further increase their space and freedom. This involves their activities and also their responsibilities and opportunities to manage their accounts themselves,” he told the media after an Auku townhall session here today (April 6).

Mohamed Khaled said the ministry took note of the students’ complaints that they are not free to carry out activities on campus as they need to consult and get approval from the university, in addition to facing financial constraints to organise any activities.

"Seeing that this is something we believe can overcome the students’ feelings of being restricted, we will amend it, more so since we think that this is one way to develop the maturity of the students when they become responsible, manage their own accounts and types of activities.

"So, that’s why the amendments to this matter (are made),” he said.

Earlier, when speaking to 500 students and academic officers from 20 public universities, Mohamed Khaled said that if the amendments to the Auku are implemented, the government will also amend the Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Act.

This is to ensure that UiTM students who are not subject to AUKU also get the same freedom as students in other public universities.

"UiTM is not subject to Auku but its existing clauses are similar to Auku, so we will also amend them so that no one can say UiTM students are lagging behind other universities because their university Act was not amended,” he said.

Auku is an Act to provide for the establishment, maintenance and administration of universities and university colleges and other matters connected to it.

Only Sections 15 and 16 under the Auku specifically provide for the aspect of students, while the rest relate to the powers of the minister and the university administration in general, including the way universities’ financial affairs are managed.

On Dec 10, 2018, the Dewan Rakyat passed amendments to AUKU involving the removal of Section 15(2)(c), which prevents students from taking part in political party activities on campus, thus giving them more space and freedom of speech and politics.

On March 19, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the government assured that it would remove provisions in Auku that restrict the freedom of students and lecturers. - Bernama

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