The Costs and Returns to Medical Education?

Since the publication of my scholarships offer to help students whose parents are earning less than RM4,000 per month a few days ago, my wife has received more than 50 applications for financial help and most of the applicants want to pursue a medical degree which cost the most.

The sole purpose of writing this article is to help inform students who wish to study medicine not to apply for my financial assistance.       

There are 40 Medical Colleges and about 500 University and Colleges in Malaysia.  All of them are lowering their entry requirement to compete for more students.

Tuition Fee for a Medical Degree in Malaysia is between RM250,000 to one million Ringgit:

Among the cheapest are University Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR): RM255,000 and AIMST University: RM250,000.

Among the mid-range are: Asia Metropolitan University (AMU): RM300,000

MAHSA University College: RM300,000

Melaka Manipal Medical College (MMMC): RM348,000, Monash University Sunway: RM455,000

Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia (NuMED): RM450,000

Among the more expensive are: Penang Medical College: RM650,000

Perdana University offers the following: Royal College of Surgeons Ireland: RM800,000

John Hopkins University Schools of Medicine: RM1,000,000.

All the above mentioned fees exclude accommodation, books, traveling costs, food and other expenses which could easily add another RM100,000 to the total cost of studying medicine.

A student will require at least RM350,000 to complete a medical degree. Assuming he can get RM150,000 PTPTN loan, he will still require RM250,000.

Is it really worth pursuing a medical degree in Malaysia with such high fees?

It is compulsory for all medical graduates to practise in a government hospital for five years to complete their housemanship.

During this period their salary ranges between RM2,600 to RM4,000. As house men they work for a minimum of 12 to 15 hours a day. After two years, their salary increases gradually to RM4,000 per month.

When they are promoted as medical officers their salaries range between RM4,500 to RM5,000. After the final year they have an option to continue their career in the government service or private concerns.

However, after 12 years and spending a minimum of RM350,000, is it worth just to earn RM5,000 to RM6,000 per month as a doctor?

They must remember that they have to pay back the RM150,000 PTPTN loan at RM2,000 per month for about 20 years.

A good alternative proposal:

I like to suggest students to consider other courses such as accountancy, finance, engineering, marketing, etc. The tuition fee for a one-year foundation course is RM8,500 and for a 3-year degree course is about RM38,000 in UTAR. The fees for all Government Universities are less than RM20,000 for a degree course.

All students whose parents are earning less than RM4,000 per month can apply for my scholarships worth RM15,500 to cover the one-year foundation course fee and the cost of living. After the completion of the foundation course, all students are entitled to receive PTPTN Government loan to complete their degree courses.

Since I made the offer to consider helping students who find the PTPTN not sufficient, my wife has received more than 50 applications in two days and most of the applicants want to study medicine. We found that most of the applicants are not realistic. They are poor and with poor results they want to study medicine.

With the PTPTN loan, the parents need to subsidize a small amount to complete their degree courses with the exception of medical degree. If the parents are really poor, I am willing to consider helping them. My offer to help students doing degree courses has opened the door for all students in the country. But the students must be realistic. In any case, we reserve the right to reject any application for financial help.

Note: All scholarship recipients do not need to work for me or pay back the money I spent on them. But they must promise me that they will remember I helped them when they are poor and when they are financially solvent they must help other poor students. I believe many graduates will continue to help poor students when I die. Since I started offering scholarships about 10 years ago, I have given out about 300 scholarships and a large number of the recipients have graduated.

Koon Yew Yin

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