Wee: How are the ten ‘A’ students automatically admitted?

MCA President Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong questioned how Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) top achievers would be automatically admitted to the matriculation programme.

“Each year, the number of Chinese students achieving 10 ‘A’s far exceeds the number of Chinese students admitted to pre-university classes.

“If the policy on admitting Bumiputera and non-Bumiputera students remains unchanged, how will all these 10 ‘A’ achievers be automatically admitted?” he said via a Facebook post.

Currently, the matriculation programme allocates 90% of its seats to bumiputera students and 10% to non-bumiputeras, Wee added.

“In the 2023 SPM exams, 11,713 candidates scored straight As (3.1% of all candidates nationwide).

“Based on data, it’s estimated that around 30% of these high achievers could be Chinese students alone, totalling approximately 3,514 individuals, not including other non-Bumiputera students,” he said.

He said that accommodating all SPM top scorers without compromising the Bumiputera quota system would be a challenge.

Drawing from past lessons, it is hoped that Anwar’s recent announcement is well-prepared and supported by a practical implementation plan, he added.

“It is crucial that the education ministry and Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir clarify the details of this decision to ensure consistency between what is announced and what is implemented to avoid discrepancies between policy and practice,” he said.

Wee said that Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek’s statement did not specifically outline how Anwar’s announcement would be implemented, while the higher education minister assured that the government would provide sufficient places for SPM top scorers with 10 ‘A’s to enter the matriculation programme.

“The issue is that the foundation programme (science foundation) under the purview of the higher education minister is only available to Bumiputera applicants.

“This statement should ideally come from the education minister as the matriculation programme is run by the education ministry,” he said.

He said that according to the education minister’s 2019 parliamentary response, the education ministry has always calculated the 10% quota for non-Bumiputera students based on actual admissions, not on capacity.

Non-Bumiputera students cannot exceed 10% of the student intake

“In other words, if Bumiputera students do not fill all places in the matriculation programme, non-Bumiputera students cannot exceed 10% of the student intake.

“Based on recent data, the number of Chinese students is over 1,000, accounting for 5.5% to 6% of total admissions, while Indian students account for approximately 3.6%,” Wee said.

Wee questioned whether the government planned to base admissions on capacity rather than actual non-Bumiputera student numbers to determine the 10% quota.

“The matriculation programme was established in 1999 to increase the admission rate of Bumiputera students into public universities’ science, technology, and professional courses.

“In 2003, 10% of the places were opened to non-Bumiputera students, while also accommodating children from suburban and B40 disadvantaged groups.

“With the latest announcement by the Prime Minister, will the new policy replace the existing measures?

“In a situation of scarcity, can we have the best of both worlds or will the new policy become a zero-sum game?” he questioned.

Recently, Anwar announced that SPM top scorers achieving 10 ‘A’s or more, regardless of race or background, will be guaranteed entry into the matriculation programme.

Dr Zambry assured that quota limitations would not be an issue.

Dewan Negara Senator Sivaraj Chandran raised concerns that the requirement of achieving 10 ‘A’s in SPM to secure a place in matriculation could potentially marginalise Indian students because there is a higher number of Chinese students compared to Indians within the non-Bumiputera student demography.