Education Ministry backtracks on use of SPM forecast results

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(October 2): The Education Ministry today backtracked on its earlier decision not to allow the use of SPM forecast results for admission into pre-university programmes, saying that it has yet to decide on the matter.

The Star reported the Second Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh as saying that the ministry has not made a "final decision" on whether or not the forecast results could be used.

Idris said that the ministry would hold discussions with the stakeholders before making a decision.

"We are taking a middle ground and, hopefully, will come up with an amicable solution for everyone soon," he said at a press conference at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia in Johor today.

The ministry had previously said that it had never allowed the use of forecast SPM results despite the fact that it has been practised for 30 years.

It said that only the actual SPM results were allowed when enrolling for matriculation, pre-university and diploma courses, which were approved by the ministry, in quoting the Private Higher Educational Institutions Act 1996.

It was reported that about 30,000 Form Five students register for such courses yearly with their trial results.

The Star on Sunday reported on a ministry circular sent to private colleges and universities in May prohibiting the use of SPM forecast results as an entrance requirement.

Subsequently, the ministry denied that this was a new ruling and that all institutions of higher learning were aware of it. The ministry said the circular issued in May this year was a reminder to colleges not to allow the use of forecast results as an admission requirement as it was concerned with the quality of services offered by these schools.

It was reported that the ministry had fined several institutions in 2012 and 2013 for breaking the law.

Forecast results are based on the trial exam which students sit for in September, while the official exam is held in November, with results issued by the end of March the following year.

Idris had said previously that trial exam results could only be used for short-term courses such as music and English.

He added that only official exam results were accepted so as to ensure that the courses applied to were of high quality and were in line with standards set by the Malaysian Qualifying Agency (MQA).

News of the circular had private institutions, parents and students in an uproar. Many were unhappy that the move would cause an eight to nine-month delay for students who opted for private higher education from beginning their tertiary studies in January.

Students who complained said their study plans were now disrupted as they had to wait another three months for the actual SPM results to be released before they could apply for the programmes.