Challenges and Opportunities: Malaysia’s Road to becoming a prominent education hub

“It’s time for Malaysia to seriously position itself as a “Gateway to Asia”

 

How does Malaysia position itself among the – in the Malaysian Higher Education Minister’s words – “traditional study destinations” such as USA, UK and Australia? Thomson Ch’ng, a recent Malaysian graduate from Australia and the former President of CISA, reflects on this alongside Prof Dr. Nor Haniza Sarmin, director of global education for Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM).

In 2007, the Malaysian Ministry of Education developed the National Higher Education Strategic Plan (Pelan Strategik Pengajian Tinggi Negara – PSPTN) with the goal of transforming the Malaysia’s Higher Education Sector and its institutions. This was followed by the launch of the Malaysia Education Blueprint  (2015-2025) for Higher Education.

“There needs to be a champion of international students in the Malaysian community

No doubt, the Malaysian Higher Education system has grown from strength-to-strength over the years, including the rise of global recognition in key dimensions of institutional quality and research publications. In particular, “Global Prominence” being one of the 10 “Shifts” outlined by the Malaysia Education Blueprint – with an ambitious target of 250, 000 number of international students to be achieved by 2025.

Strengthening its strategic coordination among stakeholders.

The Malaysian international education sector has come a long way. This is evidenced by the establishment of Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS) by the Ministry to be responsible for International Education. However, there is a clear lack of coordination and partnership between government departments and agencies, education institutions and more importantly the international student body. Perhaps it’s now time for the nation to strike a balance between integration and specialisation.

Clearer Structure and Roles of different organizations.

While EMGS has been established as an agency to be responsible for promoting Malaysia as a study destination, the increasing responsibilities and roles that have been placed under the agency over the years are affecting the effectiveness of EMGS’s original role of the marketing arm for brand Malaysia. Among those, the differences of role between EMGS and Education Malaysia (EM), a division within the Department of Higher Education often create confusion towards stakeholders, such as education institutions.

“The differences of role between EMGS and Education Malaysia (EM) often create confusion

Over the last few years, EMGS has taken the ownership of managing student visas for international students by proactively working with Immigration. While the streamlined process is slowly getting the positive effect in easing the process of visa application, it has also taken up a lot of resources and time from the setting up to the implementation of this process over the last few years. Perhaps, it’s time to redefine EMGS’s role in providing a holistic international student experience in Malaysia.

Support from Community Stakeholders

The fact is, international education is not an island. Coordinated efforts from various  stakeholders is essential. The role of the Department of Immigration, Local Police and Emergency services, Accommodation / Employers association, foreign embassy, community groups and other commercial and non-commercial services providers, more important, student groups shouldn’t be underestimated.

The presence and the importance of international students in Malaysia needs to be recognised. There needs to be a champion of international students in Malaysian community.

Effective Public-Private partnership

The partnership between government and the sector needs to be an effective one. Currently, the highly-centralised decision-making process by the Ministry of Higher Education needs to be enhanced as to allow innovative ideas to take place.

Bureaucrats need to learn how to think out of the box and allow the exploration of possibilities of new ideas to take place. Instead of finding 100 reasons why things won’t work, we need bureaucrats who can encourage new ideas for projects and initiatives.

Redefine Malaysia’s Value Proposition for Malaysia as a Study Destination

The tagline “Soaring Upwards” is great to highlight the continuous improvement of the quality of education standard by Malaysian universities. While it may be effective to encourage our domestic students to consider local institutions as an option for their tertiary education, the question here is, is this the right strategy for Malaysia to compete effectively with other traditional study destination such as UK, USA, Australia, Canada and New Zealand?

Or perhaps Malaysia should look into its strength as a nation in offering  rich cultural experience and warm hospitality – something that is being recognised globally? The truth is, the slogan “Malaysia truly Asia” is a very well recognised slogan globally. It’s time for Malaysia to seriously position itself as a “Gateway to Asia”.

Moving Forward

The fact is, there’s still a long way to go for Malaysia to be globally prominent. While it’s important to celebrate the achievements, it’s not the time for Malaysia to be complacent yet. More importantly, governance of this important sector needs to be safeguarded.

It can be done by setting up an international education stakeholder council which includes various experts and international student representatives to drive this sector moving forward, achieving “Global Prominence” as outlined in the Malaysia Education Blueprint.

Lessons from learning abroad: higher education beyond the US

“I was pretty unprepared for the variances in education by country, perhaps due to a largely American worldview and a bit too much presumption”

International educators spend their lives working with international students, but it’s easy to forget what it’s like to be one. Colleen Boland of Young American Expat reflects on some of the things that have surprised her as an American studying in the UK and Spain.

When I decided to embark on higher education abroad, I have to admit that I was pretty unprepared for the variances in education by country, perhaps due to a largely American worldview and a bit too much presumption. I did study abroad in Italy during my undergraduate degree, but it was through my American university, and the classes were therefore adapted to the American experience. My first truly different learning experience was earning a master’s in London, before embarking on my currently underway doctorate in Spain.
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Myanmar: a new frontier for international student recruitment

“Since political and economic liberalization, the advent of a multiparty democratic system, and the lifting of economic sanctions, the country has been opening up to the world in grand fashion”

The number of Myanmarese students heading overseas for study may be low at the moment, but political shifts and a growing economy mean it is a rapidly growing student market. The time for education institutions in the US and beyond to begin recruiting is now, say Mark Ashwill, managing director of Capstone Vietnam, and Deepak Neopane, founder of City College Yangon and managing director of Academics International.

Situated between two of the largest countries in the world, India and China, Myanmar has significant geopolitical importance in Southeast Asia. Until the early 1960s, Burma, as it was then known, was the region’s most developed, most well-educated, and richest nation. Yangon University was a prestigious institution in the region and Yangon Airport was a major regional hub.
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Creative thinking in the UK boarding schools market: the key to survival

“Schools that stick rigidly to their systems suffer untold reputational damage, which could take a generation to dilute”

Pat Moores, director of UK Education Guide, looks at some of the challenges facing the boarding schools sector in the UK, and how schools are adapting by opening up new markets.

Under increasing international competition, many schools are looking at new, emerging markets to benefit all pupils and school finances.

“Smart schools celebrate high levels of diversity in their international population and know their British students have much to gain from living and learning side by side with a broad range of nationalities,” says Maura Power, international student recruitment manager at Culford School.
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Choose your words wisely: why study abroad needs to speak the language of employment

“Without this type of research as a foundation to measure the value of study abroad on careers, there is no basis to argue its place”

By Carrie Rackers Cunningham, director of institutional research at IES Abroad, makes the case for collecting more hard data on the link between study abroad and employability, to help practitioners speak the language of employment.

What do employers look for? We know the list: interpersonal communication, ability to work in a team, make decisions, solve problems, etc.
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How can universities protect themselves from cyber attacks?

“One of the reasons why HE could be targeted by cyber criminals is that it holds lots of personal data and intellectual property that can be sold to information brokers”

As details of a recent ransomware attack on a top UK university unfold this week, Andrew Blyth, director of the Cyber Defence Centre at the University of South Wales, reflects on the lessons learned from the Wannacry cyber attack on the NUS and how the higher education sector can arm itself against cybercrime.

How did the NHS Wannacry attack happen and why?

There are two major lessons that we can learn from the Wannacry ransomware outbreak of May 2017. The first is the need to practice basic cyber security hygiene in terms of patch management, antivirus and firewall management. The reason for this is that the Wannacry ransomware used the MS17-010 vulnerability to attack unprotected computer systems. Microsoft had, in the weeks before the Wannacry outbreak, published a patch which was developed in response to the MS17-010 vulnerability. You may say that if all systems had been patched then the outbreak on the NHS systems would not have happened.

However, such a simple assertion ignores the second lesson.
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No one saw the UK’s election upset coming. What now for higher education?

“Our European colleagues have told me they see this as a very good result. It will make it impossible for the government to force through a hard Brexit”

Following the UK’s shock election result, which saw the Conservatives fall short of a majority, Aldwyn Cooper, vice chancellor and chief executive of Regent’s University London, considers what the upset and a resulting alliance with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party could mean for the higher education sector.

No one in government saw this result coming. Only yesterday, one senior Conservative suggested that they were expecting to achieve a majority over Labour of over 100.
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Outreach work could increase the ‘1% of refugees who reach higher education’

“This kind of work is about identifying the needs of the individual and providing effective signposting”

A new report claims just 1% of refugees reach higher education, but there is an argument that this figure could be improved with outreach work by universities. Lucy Judd, outreach coordinator at Nottingham Trent University, explains.

Imagine having aspirations of staying in education to become a doctor, lawyer or architect, but then being unexpectedly forced to abandon your studies and flee your country because it is unsafe, leaving you unsure of what your future holds.
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London-Paris: Building a post-Brexit future in higher education

“London and Paris, and other global cities, can deliver positive global impact at scale, if we work together to address shared challenges”

As Brexit draws closer, Nicola Brewer, UCL Vice-Provost International, and Tim Gore, CEO, University of London Institute in Paris, write about how universities in the UK can continue to engage with institutions in Paris and other global cities, even after the UK leaves the EU.

London and Paris are truly global cities. With their diverse populations of close to nine and 12 million respectively, world-leading culture, media, innovation and business quarters, they both play a big role in the world economy. Higher education is an integral part of driving economic prosperity.
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Is the Middle States Commission on Higher Education’s anti-agent stance a case of Americentrism?

“If US institutions hope to continue to attract international students in an increasingly competitive marketplace, then we had better sit at the table and find a way to make this work”

Jean-Marc Alberola, president of Bridge Education Group, reflects on a recent proposal to prohibit the use of compensated oversea student recruitment agencies in part of the US, and looks at the arguments for and against using agents.

After much study and debate on the topic of commissioned agents in international student recruitment, is it time for many in the US higher edu community to reflect upon the notion that it might be viewing the agent debate from an overly US focused perspective?

To many, the recent proposal by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education to extend the prohibition on incentive compensation to the recruitment of foreign students who are not eligible to receive federal student assistance is bewildering. That is, it is bewildering unless we consider that this might very well be a case of bias, or having a US centric perspective, with an implied belief, either consciously or subconsciously, that the context of domestic student recruitment somehow applies and is relevant outside the United States.
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