KEPALA BATAS: The Government has “deliberately limited” the number of students being sent abroad for higher education because it wants to turn Malaysia into a centre of education excellence for local and foreign students, said Acting Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Malaysian students were now only sent to selected universities which had a record of educational excellence, he said.
He said students were also sentabroad to pursue studies in fields where there was a lack of opportunity in Malaysia such as in medicine, engineering and technology-related programmes.
“In the past, we used to send many students abroad but now we are more careful as we want foreigners to study in our local private universities, colleges and polytechnics,” he said during a dialogue after giving a talk at the two-day Education and Career Expo at Dewan Millennium here.
The expo which ended yesterday was organised by Yayasan Budi Penyayang Malaysia (YBPM) with the co-operation of the The Star, the Penang Education Department and Expomal (M) Sdn Bhd.
Among those present were Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, Education Ministry parliamentary secretary Datuk Mahadzir Mohd Khir, YBPM chairman Datin Paduka Seri Endon Mahmood, who is Abdullah’s wife and Star Publications (M) Bhd regional director Datuk Kamal Hashim.
Abdullah said the country was on the right track to become a centre of educational excellence based on the response from foreign students and the setting up of many private educational institutions.
Replying to a query from the floor, Abdullah said it was possible that a woman would one day become the country’s prime minister.
He said a woman (Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz) was already holding the post of Bank Negara Governor.
“However, a woman has yet to become the vice-chancellor of a public university,” he said.
Earlier, he said female students were outshining their male counterparts in their studies.
“At a school function, I have noticed that the females were receiving all the awards and in one school, most of the cadet corps were females,” he said.
Mahadzir, who intervened, said the trend of women performing better than male students in studies was occurring all over the world and not just in Malaysia.
At the function, Abdullah received RM500,000 worth of donation in cash and scholarships from eight educational institutions on behalf of YBPM’s education fund.
They were from Equator Academy of Art & Design, Informatics, Institute Perdagangan Sistematik Penang, Institut Perkim-Goon & PTPL Sungai Petani, KDU College Penang Campus, Malaysian Institute of Integrative Media, Open University and Sentral Institute Technology.