Scholarships Are Back! 7 Pieces of Good News for University Students in the Budget 2018

What’s in store for Budget 2018 and how will it affect you as a student? Find out more here.

Updated 20 May 2022

7 Pieces of Good News for Students in the Budget 2018 - Feature-Image

Our highly anticipated Budget 2018 was unveiled on 27 October 2017 and to our relief, more goodies are in store for students and the education sector compared to last year.

Themed "Prospering An Inclusive Economy, Balancing Between Worldly And Hereafter, For The Wellbeing Of Rakyat, Towards TN50 Aspiration", the 2018 budget saw a recovery for scholarships after last year’s drastic cuts, among other good news.

So, what’s in store for the education sector and how will it affect you as a student? Let’s find out.

#1. Increase in government scholarships

Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that RM2.2 billion has been allocated for scholarships (1) under the Public Service Department (JPA), Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) and Ministry of Health (MOH).

In fact, based on the Estimated Federal Expenditure documents released by the Ministry of Finance, the total allocation for “scholarships, bursaries and education assistance” totals to RM2.538 billion(2), a 40% increase compared to the RM1.815 billion allocated in Budget 2017.

Other key highlights include:

  • RM90 million for the MyBrain Programme for 10,600 individuals to further their studies at the Masters and PhD levels(3)
  • RM4.5 million allocation to provide 100 TVET Outstanding Student Scholarships(4)

The amount allocated for next year’s scholarships has increased in certain key departments, particularly JPA and MOHE.

Budget 2018 - Education - Key Departments With Budgets for Scholarships and Study Grants 2

So, what does this mean for you as a student?

The increase in allocation for scholarships is certainly welcoming news for many students, especially with the numerous cuts experienced this year. However, while you can potentially expect more scholarships to be available in 2018, namely from JPA, it’s worth noting that the amount is still lower compared to 2015 (RM3.459 billion) and 2016 (RM2.647 billion).

#2. Over 14% increase in allocation for public universities

Public universities suffered a big blow in the 2017 Budget, with almost 20% spending cuts. However, 2018’s figures are less bleak thanks to a 14.5% increase in allocation for the Higher Education Ministry (MOHE), from RM12.133 billion to RM13.897 billion(5).

In particular, the top 5 universities in Malaysia all received a significant boost in their operating expenditure (OPEX), with many receiving an increase of well over 20%.

Budget 2018 - Education - Top 5 Public Universities With the Highest Budget Increase (OPEX)

Najib, who is also our Finance Minister, specifically added that Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) will receive an allocation of RM2.4 billion in funding(6), with a target to attain 250,000 students by 2020.

#3. Boost for research grants for public universities

Budget 2018 - Education - 3 Boost for research grants for public universities 2

A total of RM400 million will be provided for research and development to public universities, a 70% increase of allocation compared to the RM235 million in Budget 2017(7).

This is great news given that a number of Malaysian institutions have shown tremendous improvement in the latest QS World University Rankings 2018. In fact, there will also be a special allocation for Universiti Malaya to break into the Top 100 Universities in The World(7).

#4. Talent development initiatives to continue

Budget 2018 - Education - 4 Talent development initiatives to continue 2

To help Malaysians meet the job market requirements, the government will continue the 1Malaysia Training Scheme (SL1M) Apprenticeship Programme, which has trained 138,000 graduates thus far. The programme will increase its number of graduates by 25% to total to 25,000 graduates in 2018(8).

In an effort to expand SL1M, private companies awarded with government contracts will be mandated to allocate 1% of their total project value to SL1M.

The government will also create a one-stop centre incorporating agencies such as JobsMalaysia, SL1M, SOCSO, Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) and Unit Peneraju Agenda Bumiputera (TERAJU) in the Urban Transformation Centre (UTC) to provide professional advisory services in seeking employment and training.

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#5. PTPTN loan repayment incentives extended

Budget 2018 - Education - PTPTN loan repayment incentives extended 3

To bolster the repayments of the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loans, our government has initiated several incentives until December 2018:

  • 20% discount to those who fully settle their loan
  • 10% discount to those who settle 50% of their loan
  • 10% discount for repayment through salary deduction or direct debit in line with the repayment schedule

Additional flexibility for PTPTN loans include:

  • For students from B40 households undergoing highly marketable courses, an additional RM200 million is provided to increase the maximum loan amount.
  • The grace period for loan repayment is extended to 12 months upon completion of study compared to the current 6 months.
  • For borrowers who intend to pursue their studies to a higher level (e.g. from diploma to undergraduate), they may combine both loans into a single loan and repay upon completion of their studies.

#6. Bumiputera initiatives via scholarships and training programmes

Budget 2018 - Education - 6 Bumiputera initiatives via scholarships and training programmes 2

The 2018 Budget also included numerous initiatives for bumiputeras, including an allocation of RM2.5 billion for higher education scholarship and training programmes under MARA(9).

Yayasan Peneraju continues to receive an allocation of RM90 million(10) for its various sponsorships for vocational, skills and professional accountancy programmes, although it is a slight drop from RM100 million in 2017(11).

Additionally, there is also an amount of RM200 million for the MARA Graduate Employability Training Scheme (GETS)(12).

#7. Other good news in the form of book vouchers, increased budget for TVET and higher enrolments for Indians to public universities

Budget 2018 - Education - 7 Other good news 2

While tabling the budget, the prime minister also had more good news for the higher education sector. This includes:

  • The intake of Indians to public universities and public service would be increased to a targeted 7% to meet the target as earmarked in Malaysian Indian Blueprint (MIB)(13).
  • University and Form Six students will continue to receive book vouchers worth RM250, which will benefit some 1.2 million students(14).
  • RM4.9 billion allocation to implement the Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) Malaysia Masterplan, an increase from RM4.6 billion in 2017(15).
Disclaimer: All numbers and data are based on our regular methodology of analysing the nation’s official federal budget reports obtained from the Ministry of Finance. For enquiries, please contact us at [email protected].

What do you think of Budget 2018? Drop us your views in the comment section below! If you’re looking for other ways to fund your tertiary education aside from PTPTN, check out these little-known financial aids.

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    (1) Budget 2018 Speech (bs18 - pg.31)

    (2) Ministry of Finance 2018 Lampiran C1 (B.7 – pg.519; B.64 – pg.525; and B.42 – pg.523)

    (3) Budget 2018 Speech (bs18 - pg.47)

    (4) Budget 2018 Speech (bs18 - pg.38)

    (5) Ministry of Finance (B.64 – pg.504)

    (6) Budget 2018 Speech (bs18 – pg.47)

    (7) Budget 2018 Speech (bs18 – pg.31)

    (8) Budget 2018 Speech (bs18 – pg.32)

    (9) Budget 2018 Speech (bs18 – pg.47)

    (10) Budget 2018 Speech (bs18 – pg.47)

    (11) Budget 2017 Speech (253)

    (12) Budget 2018 Speech (bs18 – pg.47)

    (13) Budget 2018 Speech (bs18 – pg.49)

    (14) Budget 2018 Speech (bs18 – pg.31)

    (15) Budget 2017 Speech (125)

    Yasmin Ahmad Kamil

    Yasmin Ahmad Kamil

    Writer and editor. When she's not juggling work, Yasmin enjoys hiking and basking in nature's glory.