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Only half of SPM candidates plan to continue studying, survey shows

Some say that furthering their studies is not as beneficial as it once was, while others cite the cost of tuition fees and their reluctance to take on a student loan.

Staff Writers
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Students sit for their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination at a school in Sentul, Kuala Lumpur.
Students sit for their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination at a school in Sentul, Kuala Lumpur.

Only half of Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) candidates plan to pursue their studies at the tertiary level, with 32% saying this option is not as beneficial as it once was, a recent study has revealed. 

The study, conducted by the UCSI Poll Research Centre, saw the participation of 1,000 respondents who were asked about their plans after completing their SPM exam. 

Just over half (51%) said they planned to continue studying, while 39% said they would look for a job and 10% had no plans. 

When asked about the option of continuing their studies, 68% said that this was a "life changer" while 32% said it was not as beneficial as before. 

When asked why they did not want to continue their studies, 34% said they needed to work to pay for their education. 

Some 32% said they did not want to be burdened with a student loan, 32% said education fees were very high, and 22% said they did not do well at school.

Twenty-one percent said that education does not guarantee a better job, 20% said they could still get paid as much as those who had continued their studies, and 6% said they could not handle exam stress. 

Asked what kind of job they were interested in, 34% of those who did not intend to further their studies said they wanted to become social media affiliates or influencers. 

Some 26% referred to the e-hailing sector, and 22% said they would start their own business in the food and beverages sector. 

When asked if they would be interested in the government's technical and vocational education and training (TVET) programme, 41% of the group said yes and 59% said no. 

MalaysiaNow reported late last year that university was no longer the destination of choice for some school-leavers despite them doing well in their SPM. 

Data from the statistics department showed that in 2019, some 390,000 or 72.1% of SPM graduates were not inclined to continue their studies. 

These numbers were in line with the trend in other countries including the UK where, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, only two-thirds of school-leaving students said it was important to attend university. 

Some students who spoke to MalaysiaNow said university classes were "old school" and not in line with developments in the digital era. 

They also cited the cost of a university degree, which can run into tens of thousands of ringgit.