Sunday, January 15, 2006

Attracting More Foreign Students

It's reported in the New Straits Times last week that the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) has set up a promotion and marketing department to attract more foreign students and to counter growing regional competition.
Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Fu Ah Kiow said Malaysia needed more promotion offices in China, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Middle East.

"There are still many rewarding markets to tap in these countries. Many people there are still not aware of Malaysia’s services and opportunities while considering their education options."
I've written previously on the steps taken by the Singapore government to promote education in Singapore, and it appears that MOHE is attempting to take similar steps.

The Deputy Minister of MOHE, Datuk Fu Ah Kiow listed the various "attractive" bits about pursuing education in Malaysia.
"Our strength is the stringent quality control imposed on higher learning institutions in the country. In addition to the relatively lower course fees and affordable cost of living, our key attraction is that our learning environment is mainly conducted in English. Foreign students here also appreciate the safe, comfortable and harmonious nature of our multiracial environment."
The above is well and good as "marketing hype", but in reality, the MOHE needs to significantly improve the quality of education at our institutions of higher learning, both private and public. What is the point of harping on the quality of Malaysian institutions when the various international measures rank our universities poorly? The only people we will be kidding will be ourselves.

Currently the private education institutions in Malaysia are able to attract students largely because we are still a fair bit ahead of many third world countries in Africa and Asia. In addition, the quality of students enrolled into these schools are often not the most refined as they are probably unable to qualify for better universities overseas in Europe or United States.

Hence, from a purely commercial perspective in the short term, Malaysia should do well in this sector. However, from a quality output perspective as well as medium to long term sustainability of the education enterprise, plenty of work still needs to be done. MOHE should take an honest appraisal of the system (instead of the constant happy backslapping) and seek to take our private education system to a higher level. To quote Datuk Fu Ah Kiow again,
...higher learning institutions in Malaysia must raise their competitiveness through quality programmes recognised internationally.
It's time to walk the talk.


Anonymous said...

Well, UPM new v-chancellor wants to make UPM among the top 20 unis in Asia.

If his dreams are realised, then foreign students may want to come. But then again, foreign students rarely get into national universities, while the "quality" of the stringent quality control imposed on higher learning institutions in the country (sic) have already been exposed by Tony over and over again.

Doesnt matter anyway - they dont know.

Anonymous said...

Let's not talk about attracting foreign students when we can't even keep our local talent in.

Anonymous said...

Our Deputy Minister of MOHE, Datuk Fu Ah Kiow, claimed that we had imposed stringent quality control on higher learning institutions in the country. That's our strength, he said.

My reaction: Oh boy, are you for real?