KUCHING, Nov 16 — The Sarawak government may offer free education for Sarawakian students studying in local universities before year 2030 if the proposed state’s sovereign wealth fund brings in good returns, Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Openg said today.
He said he will table a Bill in next week’s sitting of the Sarawak State Assembly to set up the sovereign fund as a form of investment for the future.
“If we have a good return, we will use part of it in the management of our universities,” he said during an interview with RTM here.
“It is my wish to give free education to all our students up to tertiary level,” he said, adding that the state government had set the target of giving free education up to tertiary level by the year 2030.
However, he said the target date might be brought forward earlier than 2030.
“What happens is that many of our students are unable to further their studies due to high fees,” he said.
Abang Johari said the state government has acquired the assets of Curtin University of Technology, Sarawak Campus in Miri, Swinburne University of Technology, Sarawak campus in Kuching, University Technology Sarawak (UTS) in Sibu, International College of Advanced Technology Sarawak (I-CATS University College) and Centre of Technical Excellence Sarawak (Centexs).
“It means that we will not collect any fees from our Sarawakian students. This is what I want to do, hopefully before 2030,” the premier said.
He said the state government has already experimented with UTS where it gives 80 per cent of scholarships to students.
He said the state government is also giving a free foundation programme to UTS students.
He said the state government will extend the free foundation programme to other state-owned universities in the future.
“I see this as a form of investment for us to acquire new knowledge that we can use to add value to the state’s resources. This will bring in returns to Sarawak,” he said.