International students at Universiti Malaya (UM) are in a dilemma after learning that their tuition fees are higher than stated on the university’s website.
According to a document sighted by The Star, international student tuition fees for programmes such as the Bachelor of Science in environmental management have increased from RM44,600 to RM54,868.40, and the Bachelor of Biomedical Engineering has increased from RM92,860 to RM101,200.40.
Besides undergraduate courses, the rise also affected international students taking up postgraduate courses.
A PhD student from China, Florrie Cai Xinzhu, 27, said the sudden increase caught her and other international students by surprise.
“Many of us had already arrived in Malaysia, having made life-altering decisions to pursue our doctoral studies at UM, only to find ourselves facing unexpected financial burdens.
“This lack of transparency has placed us in a difficult and distressing situation,” she said.
“Instead of RM44,690, I now have to pay RM69,000.”
Although the fees for the latest academic year were not published on the website, potential students relied on the fees of the previous academic year (listed on the website), assuming the costs would remain the same.
However, only after successful registration did they receive an attachment containing the revised tuition fees.
Asiy Anaqi Abdul Rahim, a 23-year-old student, said the decision to raise fees without prior notice was unprofessional.
“It is unfair not to give prior notice before registration.
“This causes problems for both international and local students, especially those in the B40 category, and non-local students who have planned their finances to study,” he said.
The impact of this situation extends far beyond mere inconvenience, said UM postgraduate student Loh Kah Hoe, 24.
He said that some of these students might consider dropping out or delaying their plans to continue studying.
In a statement on Wednesday (Oct 4), UM Association of New Youth (UMANY) said the higher fees forced international students to drop out and miss out on opportunities to apply to other universities.
“UMANY demands that the university publicly apologise, review the Zero Balance Policy, and compensate the victimised students so as to give an explanation to those affected by such acts,” it said.
The Zero Balance Policy implemented at UM requires students to pay their fees for the upcoming semester in full in order to activate their status for new course registration.
When contacted, a spokesman from UM said the varsity would look into the plight of the students.
“The well-being and welfare of our students are our priorities. We will look into ways of assisting them,” he said, adding that for any help related to this, students can contact the Student Affairs Department.
In a statement released on Sept 19, the university clarified that less than 4% of students were impacted by the situation.
This was primarily due to reasons such as not updating their sponsorship status, already having sponsorship or educational assistance, or genuinely requiring financial aid.