As we approach the eagerly awaited announcement of the Federal Government’s Budget for 2024 on 13 October 2023, Heriot-Watt University Malaysia (“HWUM”) is honoured to articulate its vision for the Budget 2024. This vision places paramount importance on an ambitious agenda dedicated to the advancement of higher education, research, and innovation.
In the preceding fiscal year, the education sector received an allocation of RM15.3 billion in the 2023 Budget, marking a commendable increase from the previous year’s allocation of RM14.5 billion. While this increase is indicative of progress, it is imperative to recognise that there is room for further enhancement, particularly in light of escalating prices and inflationary pressures.
The Budget 2024 must allocate a more substantial financial commitment to the higher education sector. Such an allocation will not only facilitate Malaysia’s ongoing transformation into a high- income nation through sustainable and digital development but also bolster the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Furthermore, a well-endowed higher education system, encompassing Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), is instrumental in establishing Malaysia as a globally recognised education hub, capable of attracting international students and competing on the global stage.
In pursuit of these ambitions, Malaysia must harness its abundant human potential, thereby catalysing the nation’s transition into a high-income and developed state. This endeavour necessitates supporting local students in advancing their educational pursuits by elevating the quality of schooling to optimise learning outcomes and by providing robust social welfare to facilitate human capital investments.
HWUM’s Vision for the Budget 2024 encapsulates the following strategic imperatives:
- Incentives for Elevating Malaysia as the Premier Education Hub in the Asia Pacific for Tertiary Education: Provision of incentives to HEIs in Malaysia to introduce innovative solutions such as online educational programmes and global transfer education initiatives. These endeavours aim to attract international students and solidify Malaysia’s position as a tertiary education hub, nurturing globally competitive, highly skilled individuals.
- Acceleration of Research and Innovation: HWUM staunchly advocates for amplified funding for research and innovation ventures. This includes support for interdisciplinary research, the establishment of research centres, and incentivising collaborationsbetween academia and industry. These investments will catalyse innovation, enhance Malaysia’s competitiveness, and stimulate economic growth.
- Modernised Infrastructure: To sustain world-class standards, HWUM proposes substantial investments in infrastructure development and maintenance. State-of-the-art laboratories, smart classrooms, and campus enhancements will provide students with a cutting-edge learning environment and empower researchers with the tools requisite for excellence.
- Accessible, Quality Education: Recognising the imperative of equitable access to education, HWUM calls for the expansion of scholarship programmes and financial aid offerings. This commitment ensures that gifted students, regardless of their financial backgrounds, have unfettered access to high-quality higher education. This commitment aligns with Malaysia’s vision for an inclusive and equitable education landscape.
- Digital Transformation: HWUM underscores the pivotal role of digital transformation in education. The University seeks support for advanced e-learning platforms, digital resources, and technology infrastructure to adapt to the evolving educational landscape, especially in light of recent global challenges.
- Sustainability as a Fundamental Tenet: In alignment with national sustainability goals, HWUM urges funding for sustainability research, campus sustainability initiatives, and renewable energy projects. The University is dedicated to reducing its ecological footprint and promoting sustainable practices in education and research.
- Fostering Synergy Between Industry and Academia: HWUM encourages amplified support for industry-academia partnerships and collaborative initiatives. Such partnerships are instrumental in enhancing students’ employability and propelling economic growth through the exchange of knowledge and the fostering of innovation.
- Community Engagement: Last but not least, HWUM cherishes its role in community development and proposes funding for community engagement programmes. Outreach initiatives, skills development workshops, and educational events will contribute to the betterment of the local community.
HWUM maintains an unwavering belief that investments in these strategic domains will not only empower HEIs in Malaysia but also leave an enduring positive imprint on Malaysia’s higher education landscape, economic prosperity, and societal well-being.