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Malaysia on track to meet foreign student target

The Malaysian government says it is on track to meet its goal of attracting 200,000 international students annually by 2020 as it implements new measures to raise English language levels in tertiary education.

Muhyiddin said more foreign students will "make Malaysia a destination of their choice" thanks to new policies to improve English proficiency.

Education Ministry figures show there were around 91,000 international students in Malaysia in June 2014

Earlier this month, Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that all university students will be required to pass English language, currently taught as a second language, in order to graduate from university.

“Multinational corporations today have a certain benchmark, and want people who are not only qualified but people who can be ambassadors and communicate with the rest of the world,” he said. “And one of the important requirements is the ability to communicate in English.”

With the new policy to strengthen English at all levels, Muhyiddin said he was “sure more international students will make Malaysia a destination of their choice.”

“With our new policy to strengthen English at all levels, I am sure more international students will make Malaysia a destination of their choice”

Education Ministry figures show around 91,000 international students were studying in Malaysia in June 2014, Muhyiddin added.

Backed by the Prime Minister, the policy also requires all lecturers in public higher education institutions to be fully proficient in English – a step up from previous legislation announced in 2012 requiring English language teachers to pass the Cambridge Placement Test.

Speaking at a scholarship presentation by the Jeffrey Cheah Found­a­tion, Muhyiddin praised private institutions for their role in the internationalisation of higher education so far in the country, saying they “have shown great dynamism in response to global trends and needs.”

“Besides the obvious benefits from the inflow of foreign exchange, the immense growth in quality of these institutions in Malaysia also offers Malaysian students a more diverse learning experience and cross-fertilisation of cultures.”

The policy, further details of which Muhyiddin said will be released soon, is the latest in a series of measures the government has introduced to transform the country into an education hub.

In 2012 it launched Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS), a company acting as a ‘gateway’ to services for international students, which it tasked with ensuring the country realises its goal of having 200,000 foreign students studying in Malaysia by the end of 2020.

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