GEORGE TOWN: The majority of international students in Malaysia do not come from advanced countries but instead from parts of the developing world where universities are far inferior, Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari has pointed out in rubbishing a claim by Minister of Education II Idris Jusoh.
At the same time, there are 28,869 Malaysian students in advanced countries including Australia, Britain and Germany and hardly any students from these countries in Malaysia.
Zairil, who is DAP Assistant National Publicity Secretary and the son of a former Umno Education Minister Khir Johari, was expressing shock with Idris Jusoh bragging in the media that Malaysia’s higher education was world-class and on par with developed nations such as the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia.
Idris Jusoh’s outrageous claim, he noted, was based on his assertion that there are reportedly 135,000 foreign students in Malaysia, and who make up 10 per cent of total students currently enrolled in higher education institutions throughout the country.
“As pointed out by Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming on Sunday, the 2014 QS World University Rankings reveals that Malaysian universities cannot compare to those from the UK, Germany and Australia,” he reminded. “Malaysia is not represented in the top 100, with Universiti Malaya (UM) being the only Malaysian university that made it into the top 200 at 151st place.”
Who exactly are the foreign students in Malaysian universities?
“It’s perhaps interesting to delve into the origins of these foreign students that make up this number.”
He cites the Ministry of Education’s latest statistics based on the Perangkaan Pendidikan Negara: Sektor Pengajian Tinggi 2013 which reveals that the top countries of origin for foreign students in Malaysian universities are as follows:
“It’s quite obvious from the list above that the majority of international students in Malaysia come from countries where the universities are far inferior,” said Zairil. “We must focus on the one-way student migration from Malaysia to the UK, Germany and Australia, among other countries.”
“We cannot even compare with Singapore.”
In terms of ranking, the National University of Singapore, which shares its genesis with UM, has left its “sister” far behind, placing 22nd in the world and first in Asia, he stressed. “Singapore had 21 per cent foreign students in 2012.”
“The Singapore Government has now imposed a cap in order to reduce the international student intake to 15 per cent to give more places to locals.”
The demand for places at Singaporean universities was extremely competitive, not least among Malaysian students who number 3,016 in the island republic, he added. “In contrast, there are only 606 Singaporean students in Malaysian universities, despite the fact that we have many more colleges and universities.”
“Instead of making empty boasts, Idris Jusoh should instead reflect upon why Malaysian students are competing for places in foreign universities instead of choosing to study locally.”