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Malaysia rallies for international schools investment

The Malaysian government has launched a raft of new initiatives to encourage investment in its international schools market as part of a recent review of the country’s Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).

Epsom College in Malaysia, established through a Public Private Partnership earlier this year.Epsom College in Malaysia, established through a Public Private Partnership earlier this year.

There are currently 128 English-medium international schools in Malaysia teaching a total of 53,366 students

Plans include foreign branch campuses and public private partnerships, through which British boarding school Epsom College opened a campus earlier this year, as well as a five-year 70% income tax exemption for new international schools.

Initiatives include a five-year 70% income tax exemption for new international schools

The government aims to make Malaysia a high income nation by 2020 and has prioritised education as a “key enabler for all National Key Economic Areas”. Entry points include scaling up international schools and championing the country’s international school brand.

There are currently 128 English-medium international schools in Malaysia teaching a total of 53,366 students, according to data from the UK-based International School Consultancy Group (ISC).

ISC predicts that new school developments will contribute a 39% increase in international school student places over the next three to five years. It anticipates increasing enrolment of both expatriate and local students, aided by the abolition of the 40% cap on Malaysian citizen enrolments in 2012.

The Performance Management & Delivery Unit (PEMANDU), which oversees the progress of the ETP, has identified a number of reasons why Malaysia needs to expand its international schools market.

Motivators include responding to the growing schooling needs of expatriates, meeting the demands of repatriating Malaysians as part of the government’s Returning Experts Programme, retaining Malaysians who would otherwise consider international options for schooling, attracting parents from other countries to choose Malaysia as a school destination for their children, and giving increased school choices to local Malaysian families.

This is the latest in a series of measures by the government to solidify the status of Malaysia as an education hub. The Ministry of Education has also set a target of attracting 200,000 international tertiary students to private institutions in the country by 2020.

Latest figures from the Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS), charged with marketing Malaysian education and managing student services such as visa processing, show intake has reached 31% of the government’s goal for this year.

In the first quarter 11,336 applications have been approved while the Ministry of Education aims to receive 36,000 new international students in 2014.

As of December last year, statistics from the Immigration Department indicate that there were 117,833 international students from 140 countries with active student passes in Malaysia.

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