Wee: Discuss easing restrictions on foreign students

DISCUSSIONS must be in place to see how admission of international students into local universities can be eased, says Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

Dr Wee (BN-Ayer Hitam) said universities that were publicly funded and had been given approval under subsection 44(6) of the Income Tax Act 1966 were prohibited from admitting international students.

He said the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN) deemed that by enrolling international students, the university would have breached the conditions of the subsection that is meant to benefit only Malaysians.

“The government’s effort to promote Malaysia as an education hub to foreign students should be supported by all agencies.

“For example, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) and Tunku Abdul Rahman University of Management and Technology (TAR UMT) are interested in taking in international students, but they are facing challenges.

“Is the Higher Education Ministry ready to discuss with LHDN and the Finance Ministry to ease the restrictions as the universities want to increase their international student intake?” he said in his supplementary question at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Yusof Apdal, in replying to Dr Wee, said the ministry agreed with the suggestion and would hold discussions with the Finance Ministry and LHDN on the matter.

“The ministry will cooperate with the Finance Ministry and LHDN on the issue raised.

“We see there is a need for us to look into improvements so we can increase the number of international students in the country,” he said.

Earlier, Dr Wee had asked the ministry to state the policy on the intake of foreign students into public higher education institutions and private higher education institutions as well as the latest incentives to attract more foreign students that would make Malaysia a regional education hub.

To this, Yusof explained that the ministry was closely monitoring the intake of international students into local tertiary institutions through Education Malaysia Global Services.

He said there were currently seven incentives to attract more students from abroad to the country, including easing visa application and approval processes with the cooperation of the Home Ministry and the Immigration Department.

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