Promoting Malaysian education

Idris having a light moment with participants after delivering his keynote speech. – Bernama

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh led a team of educators to Jakarta to share Malaysia’s success story in preparing graduates for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

MALAYSIA hopes to attract 12,000 Indonesian students to the country next year.

“We hope to increase the number of students to between 11,000 and 12,000 in 2018,” he said after delivering his keynote speech at the “Preparing for the Future of Modern Education: Sharing Experiences from Malaysia” seminar in Jakarta, on Monday.

There are some 9,000 Indonesians currently studying in Malaysia, said Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh.

The full-day event was organised by Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS) – a wholly owned company of the ministry, tasked with the global promotion of Education Malaysia, and the provision of international student services.

Many public and private tertiary institutions took the opportunity to set up booths that were well patronised by Indonesian educationists.
Many public and private tertiary institutions took the opportunity to set up booths that were well patronised by Indonesian educationists.

“Our main selling point is that we’re good, and we’re affordable. We must make it known that our universities are of quality, but our costs are only 30% of what you’d pay to go to a European university,” he said, adding that some Malaysian universities were better than their European counterparts.

Stressing that Malaysia would never compromise on the quality of its education, he said local institutions were closely monitored to ensure its quality.

“We don’t just want to attract students to come here and study. We also want to make sure that we’re giving them quality education.”

He said Malaysia and Indonesia have much to learn from each other.

Both nations, he said, have thousands of academicians who should be doing research together.

“There’s big potential for joint research.”

He said an integrated, and comprehensive response, was crucial for new age academia.

Education must evolve and become more flexible. Higher education institutions must redesign themselves to meet future demands.

“We shared with Indonesian school counsellors, local university representatives, and schools heads, on how we’ve successfully redesigned our education system in line with the 4th Industrial Revolution. Not only was the attendance good, but they were very interested in what we’ve done.”

Indonesian students are now leaning towards technology and engineering, says Dr Parmjit.
Indonesian students are now leaning towards technology and engineering, says Dr Parmjit.

Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Asma Ismail, who was among the speakers, said programmes, and the curricular, must be innovative to remain relevant, attractive and competitive.

Institutes of higher learning must cater to society’s needs. Producing job creators with entrepreneurial skills, instead of job seekers, she said, was key.

“Many graduates have complained that there aren’t enough jobs. So, we redesigned the education system so that they can create jobs instead of just waiting to be employed.”

Malaysian Association of Private Colleges and Universities (Mapcu) president Datuk Dr Parmjit Singh said Indonesian students used to favour business and hospitality programmes, but were now leaning towards technology and engineering.

The response from participants have been very good. EMGS did well by focusing on a very specific group with this seminar, he noted.

“In the last two years, we lost some students because the Government changed the admittance requirement from Year 11, to Year 12.

“We used to take Year 11 students into the foundation and diploma programmes. When the ruling changed, only those doing degrees could come in.”

EGMS chief executive officer Prof Datuk Dr Rujhan Mustafa said Malaysia, alongside Australia and Germany, was among the top three education destinations for Indonesian students.

Dr Rujhan, who was formerly the Malaysian Qualifications Agency CEO, was appointed to helm EGMS from Sept 1.

“Foreign branch universities, especially those from the United Kingdom and Australia, are popular. Most come to Malaysia for degrees. The second largest group are doctoral candidates followed by those doing their masters. The rest are diploma students,” he said, adding that the number of Indonesian students in Malaysia has been on a steady rise.

“Some regions saw a dip but overall, the numbers are growing. There’s potential for us to double it.”

EGMS, he said, aims to attract some 200,000 foreign students to Malaysia before Year 2020. Indonesia is among the top five countries being targeted, he said.

“Our easy visa process, reasonable fees, and cultural similarities with Indonesia, makes us an attractive destination.

“But we also want to share our education success stories so that the participants can go back and tell their colleagues and students the benefits of studying here,” Prof Rujhan explained.

Idris, who attended a dinner at the home of Malaysian Ambassador to Indonesia Datuk Seri Zahrain Mohamed Hashim, also fielded questions from Malaysian students present.

National Association of Malaysian Students in Indonesia president Azlan Zakaria called on the ministry to set up an organisation to look after the affairs of Malaysian students abroad.

“We need a coordinating body to oversee issues like enrolment, loans, immigration affairs, and flight discount cards.

“Many of our students have been cheated, or are stuck because of private agencies that facilitate dealings between the universities and students.

“There is currently no coordinating body to monitor these agents and protect our students,” the Universitas Islam Negeri Ar-Raniry counselling and Islamic psychology student said, lamenting how there were cases where unqualified Malaysian students managed to get into Indonesian universities, only to struggle later on.

Last year, Sunday Star front-paged an exclusive on unqualified Malaysian students going abroad to get their medical degrees thanks to unscrupulous agents who were falsifying SPM result certificates and No Objection Certificates (NOC).

Students wanting to pursue medical courses overseas must get NOCs from the ministry. The issuance of the certificates is based on the students having the same minimal entry qualifications as stipulated for entry to local universities.

“A coordinating body can vet the documents and make sure that there’s no hanky-panky. We’ve also heard that the NOC requirement would be scrapped. Is this true?” Azwan asked.

Idris, who denied that there was such a proposal, assured the students that the government doesn’t just look after those studying in Malaysia, but also takes care of those who are abroad.

Said Zahrain: “We are focused on helping our students no matter where they are. With social media, there’s plenty of fake news going around. Always check with the embassy. Don’t be swayed by false news. Your duty as students is not only to study hard but to determine the country’s future direction.”

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