Students losing a chance at higher education


THE Malaysian Examinations Council (MPM) requires students seeking admission into public universities to sit for the Malaysian University English Test (MUET). I applaud MPM’s efforts in recent years to set up more sessions of MUET on Demand which releases results within three weeks rather than the usual three months. However, MPM is not responding to the unique situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

On June 27, MPM said on its official Facebook page that MUET on Demand sessions scheduled for June 20 and July 3 will be postponed to Sept 25.

According to UPUOnline, a portal through which local students apply to public universities, students are given a last chance to update any results and documents from Aug 9 to Aug 12. Students originally slotted to take their MUET test on June 20 and July 3 would have received their results in time to upload their documents, but with the test postponed, they are left in limbo. If they cannot submit their documents in time, they will not be considered for admission as they will not have fulfilled admission requirements.

We know most institutions of higher learning in the United States and worldwide have waived requirements to take entrance exams – the SATs and any sort of English proficiency tests – as they may be inaccessible to many students. In Malaysia, however, MPM and the Higher Education Ministry have not been helpful in this manner, and instead have postponed many sessions of MUET without offering alternate solutions. This leaves students taking the STPM or equivalent in a predicament.

Some have suggested that those in this quandary forgo MUET and take the IELTS, an equivalent international qualification. However, the price to sit for the IELTS is a whopping RM795, beyond the reach of many families.

Also, not all public universities accept IELTS. Universiti Malaya accepts it only as a stopgap measure, meaning that you have to sit for MUET again even if you have IELTS, which means paying another RM250, adding up to RM1,045! Not to mention the lack of logic behind the fact that IELTS can go on yet MUET cannot despite both requiring face-to-face sittings (currently).

We have written to many universities and sent many requests to the Higher Education Ministry; some universities have replied that they may give “special consideration” to students in this predicament. But the lack of a concrete solution will still lower their chances at getting a seat in a public university through no fault of their own.

The government seems to only react to a specific situation when the situation has garnered a large amount of interest among the public, with issues beyond the public eye failing to get any attention.

Whether it’s moving MUET online immediately, admitting students first and allowing them to submit MUET results later, or even waiving MUET for those who have achieved an A for English in SPM/1119, it’s high time the Higher Education Ministry provided a concrete solution to this issue and relieve students and parents’ anxiety.

ASPIRING UNIVERSITY SCHOLAR

Subang Jaya, Selangor

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