PRIVATE colleges and universities will be very happy that the Education Ministry has decided that foreign students be exempted from passing the Bahasa Malaysia and Moral Education subjects.
The private sector was stunned when it was announced some two years back that these subjects would be compulsory, meaning that foreign students must pass them or they would not be able to graduate.
These subjects are impediments to the move to increase the number of foreigners attending local colleges and universities and it is encouraging that the ministry has realised this and is doing something about it.
Education Minister Tan Sri Musa Mohamad announced last week that the Private Higher Education Act would be amended so that this requirement would be done away with.
However, the ministry should not wait until the Act has been amended before the colleges can stop the classes for these subjects.
In fact, they should be allowed to cease teaching them immediately.
It is difficult to understand how those in charge could introduce these subjects whereby the interests of the foreign students would be seriously affected.
They should have more common sense to realise that this policy will be extremely unhelpful in efforts to recruit more foreign students.
These subjects should actually be taught at national schools and by the time the students join a college or university, they could be expected to have a certain standard where Bahasa is concerned.
It should not be confused with those who have not obtained a credit or a pass in Bahasa as it would be reasonable that such students should reach the required standard for the subject just as those enrolled in local public universities.
Foreigners come here to study to get their degrees and to improve their standard of English.
They would have zero knowledge of Bahasa, especially those from China and the Middle East.
It would be too much therefore to expect them to pass in another language even though knowing a foreign language would be an advantage for everyone.
If this requirement re-mains, then many of them might be forced to look for a college in another country where they would not be required to study another language.
The time meant for this purpose can be spent on other more relevant subjects to them such as English.
But if there are foreign students keen to learn Bahasa, they should also be given every opportunity to do so.
It will not be proper that they be given the additional burden, which they may not regard as beneficial.
It is indeed good that the minister has taken heed of the concerns of the private sector over the introduction of these two additional subjects which they no doubt regard as a hurdle in their efforts to attract more foreign students.