Crying foul over 'subsidy' for foreign students

KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia - Cheaper fees offered to foreign students by public universities are hampering efforts by private institutions of higher learning in Sabah to help the Government make Malaysia a regional education hub.

Some of the public universities or colleges were offering fees that were much cheaper than their private counterparts, said Sabah Private Higher Learning Institution Association president Datuk Wong Khen Thau.

He said with the cheaper rates, public universities were indirectly subsidising foreign students to pursue various courses.

He said it was not right for the public universities and colleges to subsidise foreign students' education and added it was unfair to local students.

Wong said potential foreign students complained that fees at the private institutions were far too costly when compared to that offered by public universities and colleges.

"They tell us it is a better deal with the government universities as they provide better facilities than us," he said.

Wong said public institutions were charging foreign students as low as RM3,500 (S$1,393) per year for certain diploma courses while private institutions' fees could cost three or four times more.