PUTRAJAYA: Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh is a man on a mission to take down all student trafficking colleges throughout the country.
“What these colleges and agents are doing is a sin. It’s sinful! I really feel bad for the victims,” said Idris.
“But I don’t just want to use strong language. I want action. I want to put an end to this.”
Idris was speaking during a meeting with R.AGE to discuss solutions to student trafficking, where victims are cheated of five-figure sums to be brought into Malaysia on student visas and subjected to a cycle of exploitation by unscrupulous agents and employers.
After R.AGE first met with the ministry in December 2016, a task force was launched to investigate colleges suspected of working with student traffickers.
“We discovered this was happening when our EMGS (Education Malaysia Global Services) system picked up a surge in the number of Bangladeshi students. We have taken action against nine colleges in 2016 and 2017, so the numbers have dropped.
“Only 1,100 Bangladeshi students visa applications have been approved so far this year, compared to 16,000 last year and 23,000 the year before,” he added.
The ministry will now work with R.AGE and several NGOs to identify trafficking institutions and agents, and help victims currently stuck in Malaysia.
Those who can prove that they are victims can seek to continue their studies in another college, and the cost will be borne by the offending college.
Members of the public are also encouraged to make reports if they come across any cases of student exploitation, in order to allow MOHE and the Immigration Department to take action against the colleges.
“Our stand is very clear – we will work with R.AGE. We want to improve our system, and make sure not even a single person is allowed to abuse it,” said Idris.
Immigration director general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali was similarly bullish, and said his department will “always” work with the Higher Education Ministry on such issues.
“We will come down hard on the institutions and agents,” he said. “If (the victims) come forward to Immigration, we will investigate, for sure.”
Mustafar said Immigration would consider policy reforms if necessary.
“We will look into law reform, if need be, as well as the rules and regulations,” he said.
* Watch episode one of R.AGE's Student/Trafficked undercover investigations in the video below.