Thu, 29 May 2003

KL doing the right thing in wooing foreign students

V.K. Chin, The Star, Asia News Network, Selangor, Malaysia

The Education Ministry's decision to post its officials overseas in select countries will be a big help in attracting more foreign students to study at Malaysian colleges and universities.

These officials will be able to assist the nationals in the countries where they are stationed to provide more information on institutions of higher learning in Malaysia.

With this new development, it should not be difficult for the government to achieve a 50,000 foreign student population in the next few years.

In fact, the number of such students had shot up in the past few years as the government liberalized its education policy to allow the private sector to play a bigger role in higher education.

With hundreds of such private colleges and universities being set up for this purpose, they should be sufficient to accommodate more of those wishing to study in this country.

Immigration rules have also been relaxed to make it easier for the colleges to apply for student visas and if this co-operation should continue, the intake of foreign students should take place at a faster pace.

The government intends to establish education offices in select countries whose school leavers may be keen to study abroad.

The countries already with a sizable number of their citizens studying here are China, Indonesia, the Middle East and in the region.

These centers are to be known as Malaysia Council, to be modeled on the same lines as the highly successful British council, which surely must be the leader when it comes to promoting education in the United Kingdom.

However, "council" may be too general a term and perhaps something more specific such as Malaysia Education or Education Malaysia just like Tourism Malaysia may be more appropriate.

With the word "education" in the name, it will be clear to all what the center is all about. Otherwise, some may believe it is a place where foreigners can make enquiries about anything concerning Malaysia.

It is indeed heartening that the ministry should take a more proactive role in promoting education in Malaysia overseas as the establishment of such centers will give the mission official backing.

Such support will instill greater confidence in foreigners interested to learn about education in Malaysia and that they will be receiving the right advice and information on this matter.

The private sector in particular will no doubt be grateful for such co-operation as it will make their job of attracting more foreign students so much easier.

It also shows that the government is not just paying lip service to interest more foreigners to come to Malaysia for their education, whether secondary or tertiary.