Speaking to reporters, Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said there would be “no more building or opening of new campus[es]”, although he did not set out a time limit on the policy.
It is understood that the government in Kuala Lumpur believes that nation has “enough” higher education institutions.
“172,886 overseas students enrolled on Malaysian campuses in 2016”
Malaysia is a popular destination for branch campuses, with Heriot-Watt, the University of Nottingham, Raffles Univeristy and the Dutch Maritime Institute of Technology among the foreign institutions that have bases and partnerships in the country.
Along with foreign HEIs, there are several well-ranked Malaysian universities in Kuala Lumpur and other cities such as Penang and Johor Bahru. It is true that for a nation of 31 million people, the HE offering is a generous one.
However, the moratorium does not seem to be concrete. Jusoh added that some of the world’s top HEIs would be allowed the chance to convince the government that a new campus would be beneficial.
“Only if you are the top 100 in the world, we (the ministry) are willing to consider. Or if you can convince the Cabinet,” he said.
Local media questioned whether this policy would affect the goal of attracting 250,000 international students to the state by 2025. The latest figure show Malaysia is on track for that number, with 172,886 overseas students enrolled by the end of 2016.
Jusoh reportedly said the goal was still achievable due to the existing partnerships and branch campuses, including those with expanding programs. The minister singled out Heriot-Watt, which is expanding its international program, by sending more than double its UK-domiciled students in January 2o18, than in previous semesters.
Several private Malaysian institutions use so-called ‘2+1’ degree programs to boost mobility, as students will typically spend one year of a three-year period of study at an overseas partner institution.