Is UiTM ready for Malaysia Baru?

Arshad Ayub calls for UiTM to open its doors to non-Bumis

The question of whether UiTM should open its doors to non-Bumiputera students resurfaces every now and then. Most recently, the first Director of the institution, Tan Sri Dr Arshad Ayub, led the call to open UiTM to non-Bumiputeras interested in pursuing postgraduate qualifications because he felt that Bumiputeras should be able to compete with the other races at this level. Since when was pursuing education a competition between races? This is worth pondering, but I will leave that debate for another time.

The narrative is always the same. UiTM was set up for the uplifting of the Bumiputera community and any suggestion to open the doors of this public university, run with tax-payers’ money, is a direct challenge to the special privileges that the constitution accords to Bumiputeras. It appears that the new government is also of this view. PKR’s Fahmi Fadzil calls to leave UiTM as it is and focus on other reform agendas in education.

I would ask people on both sides of the divide, including Fahmi, to consider the following:

1. UiTM has long opened its doors to non-Bumiputeras. This is an indisputable fact that many may not be aware of. I ask the university to provide Malaysian tax-payers with details about the number of international undergraduate and postgraduate students who have graduated from UiTM. How does the government justify opening UiTM to foreigners, but not to Malaysians? Is it fair that the university allows international students to register simply because UiTM needs to compete in global rankings of universities?  

2. While some are able to convince themselves that it is not wrong to close UiTM’s doors to non-Bumiputera students, how do you explain that job opportunities at this public university are also closed to non-Bumiputeras? UiTM has thousands of non-academic staff who are all Bumiputeras.

3. UiTM does employ non-Bumiputera academics, albeit a relatively small number. However, administrative posts for academics such as Dean, Deputy Dean, Head of Department in every faculty seems to be reserved for Bumiputera academics. Why such blatant discrimination given the fact that all UiTM staff are civil servants?

Despite all this, according to the latest Times Higher Education Emerging Economies University Rankings 2019, UiTM was ranked 351th as compared to Universiti Malaya's 18th position. 

There is much that needs to be answered here. However, it must be reiterated that nobody is questioning any rights issue here. 

What is being pondered upon is whether some people are masking their incompetence behind racial agendas?

Should everything and anything be seen from a racial lens?   

A New Malaysian,

Petaling Jaya