WITH the March 18 deadline to apply for licences to recruit foreign students now over, private institutions are keeping their fingers crossed while the Private Education Department (JPS) and Home Ministry study the 276 applications received.
Deputy director-general of education (private education) Datuk Hassan Hashim said the final list of institutions that will be given licences to recruit foreigners would be out next month.
To date JPS officials have visited 60 of the 276 institutions that applied for new licences, and recommended 20 to the Home Ministry for approval.
A total of 295 private colleges and universities had licences to recruit foreign students until March, after which they were all cancelled. Hassan said the move was necessary to curb the “rampant and blatant” abuse of student visas.
Common abuses include using student visas as a means to enter the country to gain employment and the transfer of students to unlicensed colleges for a fee.
The Star reported that colleges with licences were even “selling” foreign students to colleges that did not have licences for up to RM5,000 each.
“Upon arrival here, the students would be transferred to a less reputable institution that offered the course of their choice. The unlicensed colleges would have to pay a hefty fee for each student,” JPS enforcement director Dr Ariff Kasim said.
As a result, private institutions must now fulfil minimum criteria under new guidelines to obtain a licence.
They include having an international office at each college to deal with foreign students’ welfare, proper accommodation (either a purpose-built or rented premise where students’ safety would be guaranteed by the institution), a clear refund policy, detailed information on recruitment agents and submission of quarterly reports on the foreign students to the JPS, Immigration Department, Home Ministry and police.
As at January, there were a total of 22, 827 foreign students from 150 countries studying in the country’s private institutions of higher learning – up 69.4% from last year. Most of the students come from China and Indonesia.
“Our target is to have 50,000 foreign students (in both public and private institutions of higher learning) by 2005, as it would translate to RM1.5bil in income for our country,” Hassan said.