KUALA LUMPUR: A division to deal with foreign students will be set up by the middle of the year to handle, among other matters, cases of students detained by the authorities.
This international students division will come under the Higher Education Ministry's management department.
Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed said foreign students in Malaysia could bring their queries and problems to the division, adding that it was being set up because of the increasing number of international students in the country.
As of 2005, there were about 45,000 foreign students in the country, he said.
The students are largely from Indonesia, China, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Yemen, he told reporters after launching a ministry strategic marketing plan here yesterday.
Mustapa said his ministry has also set up a council to formulate a programme to promote Ma-laysia's public universities overseas.
On the strategic marketing plan, he said its main objective was to identify the marketing scenario of higher education institutions in Malaysia.
Private colleges and universities here welcomed the ministry's move to set up the foreign students division.
Malaysian Association of Private Colleges and Universities (Mapcu) deputy president Dr Parmjit Singh said it was a positive move.
“This will enable students to bring up issues with the right people – something they are unable to do right now,” he said.
Dr Parmjit said in the event of foreign students being detained, the authorities concerned could contact the division to confirm the status of the students.
Sunway University College executive director Elizabeth Lee said this was a “very friendly” development as foreign students now had an alternative helpline.
“Our institution has a hotline which our foreign students can call 24 hours a day, seven days a week in case they are in trouble. Having the division will mean they have an alternative,” she said.