KUCHING: INTI College Sarawak, one of the state’s most established educational institutions, is closing down by the end of this year due to declining student numbers.
The campus in Jalan Stampin Timur here is being phased out after over 20 years in operation. It moved into the 1.4ha campus, which was formerly the premises of St Patrick School, in December 1992.
INTI said in a statement yesterday that the campus here has stopped enrolling new students starting this month in line with its phased withdrawal from the state.
It said all final-year students would continue their classes here while other students would be transferred to INTI International University in Nilai or INTI colleges in Subang, Penang and Sabah offering similar programmes.
The college has been holding discussions with students over the past two days on relocating them to other INTI campuses in the country.
Yesterday, students could be seen entering and leaving the administrative office to attend meetings in batches with the management team, which included INTI chief operating officer Rohit Sharma and INTI Sarawak principal Ivy Lau.
One group of students met exiting the office said they were told that the decision had been made to relocate them to other campuses such as the one in Subang.
Others said they were still unsure what would happen to them, while some were heard discussing the meeting among themselves.
A student who requested anonymity said they were disappointed with the decision, especially as they had trusted the college to provide quality education to Sarawakians.
“We applauded when Laureate International Universities bought over INTI. We thought that INTI would provide better and quality education to us Sarawakians after the takeover.
“Indeed, up to today INTI has provided excellent education to all of us here. But with the news of the college closing down, we are like fish out of water,” he said.
INTI became part of the US-based Laureate International Universities network in 2008 after Laureate acquired a 51% stake in the INTI Group.
The student added that transferring to the Sabah or Nilai campus would be an additional financial burden to his parents, who are struggling to send him to college as it is.
“But what if they close down again. It is a frustration which should not be upon us innocent students.
“The education business is to provide service to young people like all of us here. It is not to make tons of money but a matter of trust and image,” he said, adding that he would consider whether to continue studying at INTI.
Meanwhile, Sharma said in the statement that INTI was taking all necessary steps to ensure that the student experience and graduate outcomes were not affected.
“We are committed to ensuring the highest quality of education for every single student currently enrolled at INTI College Sarawak. There will not be any change in the quality of resources and time spent on our existing students.”
He also said INTI’s key goal was to provide access to high quality education and make a difference to the lives of students, employees, local communities and the industries it catered to.
“This has become a challenge for INTI College Sarawak as the market in Sarawak has become increasingly saturated, with growing capacity from public universities. This has hampered INTI College Sarawak’s ability to provide the highest benefits possible to its students, staff and faculty,” Sharma added.
The management is also in discussions with the staff to explore various options, including relocating to the other campuses. The college here has about 20 lecturers.
The statement also said INTI recently invested over RM60mil to upgrade campus facilities in Subang, Nilai, Penang and Sabah. It will maintain a representative office here.
INTI College Sarawak’s last student intake was in August last year. Currently there are about 250 students enrolled in business and hospitality programmes at the college.
However, it is learnt that student intake has been on the decline for the past few years.
“I believe you can see that for yourself,” an adviser to the college said yesterday.
She added that the college would provide financial assistance to the students for the relocation.
The campus here, which underwent a RM12mil development in 1995, comprises academic and administrative buildings and hostels. Facilities include a library, laboratories, cafeteria, multi-purpose hall and bookshop.
The adviser said there were no concrete plans for the campus yet as the college’s priority was to address the students’ needs.
“It is an INTI property and will remain so for now,” she said.