The move “is an exit strategy to allow us all to return back to an almost normal life after nearly two years fighting Covid-19,” prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said, adding it marks the transition to an “endemic phase” of the pandemic.
All fully-vaccinated travellers will be allowed to entry the country without undergoing quarantine, but will be required to take a RT-PCR test two days before departure and a rapid test (RTK) within 24 hours of arrival.
Unvaccinated travellers will be subject to a five-day quarantine. They must also follow local Covid-19 protocols which see them banned from some public places such as dine-in restaurants.
The news comes at a time when Education Malaysia Global Services is facilitating international students to pursue higher education in Malaysia as it works towards securing the country a place in the top 10 studying destinations worldwide.
EMGS has said it will resume operating all services that were previously halted to minimise personal contact due to Covid-19 at its Kuala Lumpur office.
Speaking at a press conference in Pakistan in March, Mohd Radzlan, CEO of EMGS, said that according to the QS world university rankings, Malaysia is home to 32 programs are ranked among the top 100 universities offering world-class academic degrees.
“Malaysia has 435 state-of-the-art higher education institutions across the country that have a huge capacity to entertain international students. Malaysia offers diverse culture, affordable living, secure environment, and dynamic lifestyle to its international students,” he said, as reported by Academia Mag.
“Students will experience world-class education in Malaysia with high-ranking institutions of the world offering degrees that are well recognised all over the world,” he added.
“EMGS and the Higher Education Ministry cannot rest on their laurels”
The reopening of the Malaysian border was welcomed by those in the international education sector, including Cecilia Pereira-Yates, managing director of GB8.
“Over two years of border closure has heightened the importance of being present and visible in the market. Malaysia is ready to welcome the sector back to some form of new normal,” she told The PIE.
“Virtual recruitment activities do serve a purpose but nothing can beat the effectiveness and impact of a more personal in-person approach to recruitment and partnerships. It is time to re-establish relationships with stakeholders which have been managed virtually,” said Pereira-Yates, who recently travelled to her home country through the the Langkawi Travel Bubble.
“It was important for me to get back to Malaysia for two reasons. On a personal note – to see my family. On a professional note – to ensure GB8’s clients show confidence and commitment in returning to the country and resuming relationships and activities,” she added.
EMGS has also reported an increase in PhD applications from international students in the past 24 months, reaching 11,661 in 2021.
Writing for New Straits Times, associate professor at the School of Education, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Nottingham Malaysia, Rozilini M. Fernandez-Chung reminded that, as the figures were application numbers, “for various reasons, not all of them will be converted into PhD enrolment”.
“EMGS and the Higher Education Ministry cannot rest on their laurels,” Fernandez-Chung said.
“These agencies must continue to engage stakeholders to ensure that Malaysia remains attractive to international students, and not just at PhD level. This requires removing cumbersome practices and ensuring transparency in implementing the policies.”
The prime minister has also said that incoming international students will be required to take compulsory Bahasa Malaysia classes.
In a bid to broaden the use of the language internationally, higher education minister Noraini Ahmad, agreed that all international students will learn the language when they enrol at Malaysian universities.
However, academics have questioned the policy and called for more details to be provided, FMT reported
Malaysia previously had an ambition to host 200,000 international students by 2020.