Syed Saddiq: UUCA amendments shouldn't just be for students, but also to enable universities to do what's right

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

BANGI, April 14 — Muar MP Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman has said that the promised amendments to the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 (UUCA) must not only remove restrictions to students, but also provide greater freedom to universities.

The Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda) president referenced the recent incident of Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Shah Alam stopping an event — where he was supposed to speak — from being held within its premises.

“I’m pretty sure the vice-chancellors of UITM would think: ‘if I allow [the event] there will be action taken [by those in government]... will I get a call from the minister [of higher education]?’

“I want to reach a point in time when vice-chancellors do not have to be afraid anymore of whether or not they are going to get called,” said Syed Saddiq during a dialogue session with students at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) last night.

He stressed that universities should be enabled in a manner that allows them to do what is best for their students without having to fear the government of the day.

He added that if the right amendments were made to the Act in question — which is more commonly known by its Malay abbreviation Auku — universities would be better equipped to make decisions on matters such as syllabus and internships, with student needs taking priority.

The dialogue session at UKM yesterday was titled “Auku, Where Does It End?”.

UiTM Shah Alam had stopped a dialogue session, named "Interns are not Forced Labour” that was slated for March 30 and was to have Syed Saddiq on its panel.

University administrators had allegedly said that they disallowed the event because they wanted to maintain the harmony of the campus, as well as to focus on spiritual programmes during the month of Ramadhan.

Syed Saddiq lauded UKM for allowing the session at its premises to take place yesterday, saying that the university had "opened the doors'' for more such sessions to take place in the future, including at other universities.

“And the session at UKM today has proved that there is no problem, no commotion, we have had a dialogue in a good manner, and we can hear critiques and suggestions,” he said.

To note, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin announced last week that amendments to the UUCA — pertaining to Section 15 and 16 of the legislature — are expected to be tabled in Parliament this year.

Only Section 15 and 16 of UUCA directly deals with students.

The other sections cover the powers of the minister of higher education and how universities are to be administered, including how university financial affairs are handled.