Malaysia is edging closer to its goal of attracting 250,000 international students by 2025, with 172,886 enrolled in Malaysian education institutions as of the end of 2016, according to the minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh.
In a recent op-ed for national news website the New Straits Times, Jusoh said Malaysia has been ramping up its efforts to attract international students through cooperation with other governments, efforts to smooth visa issuance and the introduction of a quota for international students on medical courses.
“This is an opportune time for Malaysia to capitalise on its strengths to attract more international students”
“Various factors around the world today, including a challenging global economy and changes in geopolitical trends in the United States and Europe, mean that international students are looking to pursue higher education outside of traditional destinations, such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia,” he wrote.
“I believe this is an opportune time for Malaysia to further promote and capitalise on its strengths in higher education to attract more international students.”
Speaking with The PIE News earlier this year, Yazid Hamid, CEO of Education Malaysia Global Services, also said the government-owned agency hoped that “unfortunate changes, especially immigration policy in certain countries, will drive traffic more to this side of the world”.
“We’re looking at Brexit, we’re looking at the recent developments in the US, and while [the executive orders on immigration are] unfortunate for these Muslim countries, it also create opportunities to offer places to students who otherwise couldn’t make it because of those unfortunate events.”
In the last three months, Malaysia has signed memoranda of understanding on education and science cooperation with Saudi Arabia, Senegal and Turkey in an effort to open up more channels for research collaboration and student mobility.
And as of this year, public universities must set aside 5% of the places on their medical, pharmacy, and dentistry programs for international students.
The quota is “a great opportunity as these courses are delivered by top-notch faculty and specialists,” Jusoh wrote.
The ministry is now turning its attention to increasing international intake at the postgraduate level, which accounts for 23% of international tertiary level students, he added.
“This effort is in line with our emphasis on making Malaysia an education hub within the region”
As part of the MoU with Senegal, signed at the end of March, Jusoh offered scholarships to 10 Senegalese students to pursue postgraduate studies in Malaysia.
“This effort is in line with our emphasis on making Malaysia an education hub within the region,” Jusoh said of the agreement.
There are currently around 70 Senegalese students studying in Malaysia, said Senegal’s higher education and research minister, Mary Teuw Nina, adding: “I believe this MoU will help us increase this number greatly”.
In the most recent agreement, signed last month, the governments of Malaysia and Turkey pledged their support for cross-border educational ties between institutions of higher education, and to encourage research and academic staff mobility.
Malaysia’s Ministry of Higher Education hopes the presence of Turkish students in Malaysia will serve as a “catalyst for students from other Muslim countries to choose Malaysia as their higher education destination,” it said in a statement.
Malaysia’s “friendly environment for Muslim students” makes it an attractive international study destination, according to Jusoh.
He also cited the affordability of Malaysian higher education and its rise in global rankings, reflecting improved quality, as factors that will help to realise the country’s status as an education hub.