KUCHING: While news of possible higher course fees in Australian universities
may add further financial burden to many parents, local institutions of higher
learning view the announcement made by Australian treasurer Peter Costello as
Many felt that the higher fees might result in students seeking alternatives to
reduce the cost of gaining their degree, particularly those of the middle to
lower income groups.
This is especially so considering that international students taking Australian
university courses could expect to pay at least A$113 million (RM280.8 million)
in extra fees under plans announced recently.
Costello said the government wanted the money to promote Australian education
overseas and ensure courses taught met "rigorous academic standards.
This would largely be financed by extra charges for overseas students, he said,
adding that under the reforms to make the higher education system more market
responsive, universities would be able to charge premium fees for their most
Inti College Sarawak deputy
Principal Then Nyuk P'in that the hike in Australian university fees would have
a definite impact on the number of Malaysian students transferring to Australia
.They might opt to stay longer in Malaysia under the 2+1 programme or study
entirely here under the 3+0 arrangement, she said.
She said students remained longer in Malaysia would definitely reduce cost,
while those who opted for 3+0 programme would be rest assured of
cost-effectiveness. "Or they might opt for a less expensive country," she said,
adding that this could be another possible scenario should the fees become too
much of a financial burden to parents
And should the financial burden be too much, they would likely look for other
alternatives for their children, she said. Institute of Business and Management
Studies (IBMS) deputy chief executive officer Caroline Yeo said the fee
structure offered by the college would be unaffected by the fees hike.
"We are covered by the agreement and contracts made (prior to the hike)," she
She added that Australia had the right to increase their university fees, but by
doing so, would make local institutions and universities all the more
Yeo also speculated that it was a likely that more students would go through
local institutions of higher learning and universities.
"Those students who were already doing their courses would also likely opt to
spend more time here and less time there," she said.
However, many students remain indifferent to the fees hike especially those who
have the option of studying elsewhere.
It is the parents who have children studying or aiming to study in Australia
that were frantic over any fee hike.
Commercial writer Joanne Ngeaw, who intends to stop work to further her studies
next year, is not
at all fazed.
"I was planning to do my degree in New Zealand anyway so at least I don't have
to take Australia into consideration, especially if the fees are higher," she
Those that would be more worried were people who were already doing their course
or planning to do their course in Australia, she said.
As for 19-year-old student Yvonne Tan, she felt that she had no choice but to
continue her postgraduate studies in Australia as to transfer to another
university would mean that all the subjects she had done so far might have been
"I am not sure I could get the accreditation for what I had already done," she
said, adding that she may as well continue with her current course.
She also noted that the fee hike was unreasonable considering that the exchange
rate was in favour of the Australian dollar.
"My parents already have to pay so much because of the rising exchange rate, but
to have to deal with increased fees is just too much," she said, adding that
should the exchange rate go up further she might have to study in the US.
A parent, Agnes Chin lamented that she would have to seriously reconsider
sending her children to Australia if the fees hike was too high.
She said it would first depend on how high the new fees would be compared to the
"It would depend on the new fees structure," she said, adding that she was also
considering going through the local institutions if the total cost of her
children's education was lower.
Another parent, Abdul Rahman said he too would reconsider sending his son to
Australia if the fees hike was too high.
"If my son can do his course in Kuching all the better," he said, pointing out
that there was still time to consider as his son was still doing his SPM this
Australian government statistics show that almost 80 percent of the 200,000
international students who take Australian university courses every year are
from Asia, generating A$5 billion in export earning annually.
Singapore was Australia's top education market in 2001-2002, with 22,000
students, followed by Hong Kong (20,655), Malaysia (18,500), China (17,000),
Indonesia (9,900) and India (6,200).
Foreign students make up 18 percent of the total Australian student population
but contribute over 30 percent towards some university budgets.