Some 70 students here, who will enter university for the first time, received assistance today to ease their financial burden.
They are among 79 recipients of the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loan who received their advance payment from Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili.
Under a new move by the government to ease their financial burden, Ongkili said each of the students were given an advance of RM1,500 to cover their expenses as they go off to university.
This payment, he said, was meaningful especially for the rural students as new PTPTN loan recipients would normally have to wait for some months before the payment came in.
"Their parents would need to fork out money to pay for their travelling expenses, including air tickets and semester fees. Sometimes the parents had to go to great length to borrow money, including by trading off their land," said Ongkili, who is also Kota Marudu Member of Parliament.
He added that true to its 1Malaysia concept with the 'People First' stance, the government recently decided to innovate the PTPTN payment system to allow for advance drawdown and resolve the students' financial problem due to the process it took to disburse their loan.
"This measure by the Higher Education Ministry is an innovative step to assist many rural parents who face difficulty raising money in order to send their children off to university," he said.
He added that the government wanted to make sure that the deserving students who made their way to university were not hampered from obtaining higher education by technicalities that could be resolved.
Ongkili also said the lucky students were the upcoming generation who would play an important role in Kota Marudu's progress and development in the future.
He urged them to work hard at their selected courses and make the best use of their time in university to acquire skills and lessons of life, adding "in life nothing is impossible if you commit yourself to hard work, discipline and determination."