Budget Cut: Can Public Universities in Malaysia survive?

Written by Nurul Nadiah Zainal

How much does a university need to continue producing academician, producing academic work and basically to run the university smoothly? The university is probably one of the many organization in Malaysia that need huge amount of money in order to run their organization. Last year, in presenting Budget 2017, Malaysia Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak has announced that budget for public university in the year 2017 will be reduced by up to 20%. That is approximately RM1.5 billion, which according to Malaysian Digest is a bigger cut than 2016.

The general view of how people see academician in university are teaching and doing research. At least that is how I see it in the first place but they are not just doing that. So what is basically the function of a university? Indeed, it is a place for teaching and learning but it is also the place to conduct academic research and other professional services that can later contribute to the country’s economy.


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Conducting a research is probably the most talk about by the university people, especially the lecturers. After all, research needs to be carried out in order to meet the individual, the faculty and the university’s Key Performance index (KPI). Education is evolving all the time and these changes that happen require an amount of money in order for its implementation. New methods, new teaching style, or new equations are always on the academician’s mind. For these transformations to happen there must be money. Conducting a research is very much the KPI of a lecturer. Researches are crucial to establish the status of the university, as a research university, and this requires money. The budget cut endorsed by the Prime Minister will be a setback for most university. It is quite impossible to do research when there are no grants to be disbursed. As noted by the fellow of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia, Dr. Ahmad Ibrahim research universities are affected the most because of the drastic curtailment in research and development activities and also it affected Malaysia’s competitiveness. We aimed to have the best education platform in Malaysia, but with budget cuts as such it will be rather difficult.

Teaching would be the core activity in the university but with the budget cut some advantages need to be cut off too. There are some areas like social science, are not particularly affected by budget cut in a greater manner but areas like sciences and engineering would be largely affected. Due to the budget cuts, they are definitely going to experience in reduction of materials in science lab. Laboratories need huge amount of money for maintenance of instruments, purchase of chemicals, and the maintenance of safety items that needs upgrading regularly and others that will incur dollar sign. Staffing will also be a problem since universities are not able to afford experienced lecturers that will help boost the university’s status. Can the university maintain all this with the current amount of budget? Universities are encouraged to bring in money to help with the up keeping of the university. Since teaching and learning is the main focus of the university, how much can they bring in money for the university? If all these are not considered, it will disadvantage loss to the university.

These will definitely disturb the education quality. According to the Higher Education Minister, Dato’ Seri Idris Jusoh, the budget cuts will train the university’s organization to be efficient. They ought to generate their own income internally (Malaysian Digest, 2016). Will this be the best action for the university to be doing? It is still a question.



  • Can local Public Unis Cope with Budget 2017 Cuts? Here’s What Academicians Have to Say. (2016, November 3). Retrieved from http://malaysiandigest.com/frontpage/282-main-tile/640808-can-local-public-unis-cope-with-budget-2017-cuts-here-s-what-academicians-have-to-say.html