Kuala Lumpur, 12 October 2012:
Angry students are occupying Libya’s embassy in Kuala Lumpur in protest at government cuts to their scholarship funding.
The protest started outside the embassy this Tuesday but heavy rain forced the 70 students inside and they are now occupying part of the building. The protestors have emphasised that their demonstration has been completely peaceful.
However, the embassy has been surrounded by police who are trying to prevent more students from joining the protest. “If you leave the embassy you are not being allowed to go back,” Ali L. Elgayar, the president of the group, ‘Libyan Students in Malaysia,’ told Libya Herald. He added: “Even those bringing food and water are not allowed to come back in.”
The students, whose qualifications and future careers are threatened by the cuts, began their protest on Tuesday. Some in the building have now begun a hunger strike.
The students told Libya Herald their scholarships have been cut completely, leaving them stranded two-thirds of the way through post-graduate courses.
“The ministry of higher education suddenly terminated the scholarships of Libyan students” said Elgayar. Funding for PhDs, for instance, now only covers 24 months, when the minimum period at all Malaysian universities is three years.
Since the beginning of October, scholarship students have not received a single penny.
Elgayar complained that the cuts affected students’ lives in every way. “They can’t continue their studies because they can’t pay for their accommodation, tuition fees, food or transportation.”
Elgayer vowed that the protest would continue until the students’ demands had been met and the funding reinstated.
There are around 4,500 Libyans studying at universities in Malaysia. Of these 300 are in receipt of scholarships and are affected by the cuts, apparently made under the Ministry of Education’s Decree number 34-2011.
The problems faced by scholarship students in Malaysia seem far from exceptional. It is believed more than 1,500 students worldwide are affected by these government cuts. Protests are being staged at other Libyan embassies, and one is planned for next month in London.