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MALAYSIA needs to up its game in higher education to attract more international students as inflation weighs on foreign student arrivals.

One way to achieve this is for higher education institutions (HEIs) to carry out digital transformation as a key strategy for business recovery and sustainable growth beyond the crisis, proposed the president of the Malaysian Association of Private Colleges and Universities (MAPCU), Datuk Parmjit Singh.

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Beyond ensuring operational sustainability, HEIs are driven by the opportunity to transform teaching, learning and assessment by leveraging technology, he told StarEdu.

Growing student interest has led HEIs, he said, to introduce more online versions of selected programs as standing offers within the limits prescribed by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA).

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Universities, he added, are also actively using methods to improve the use of analytics, particularly in marketing and measuring student satisfaction.

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced HEIs to move away from conventional promotion and enrollment approaches and to reinvent themselves and become highly innovative in their student recruitment strategies, he noted.

Parmjit: Universities have selectively introduced online versions of some existing programs as standing offerings due to growing student interest.Parmjit: Universities have selectively introduced online versions of some existing programs as standing offerings due to growing student interest.

“The use of digital marketing and social media, online engagement including virtual open houses, virtual counseling and regular virtual engagement sessions with students and recruitment partners have been effective in enabling HEIs to continue securing international student enrollments even when borders were closed,” he shared. .

Parmjit, who is also the chief executive of the Asia-Pacific University of Technology and Innovation (APU), said there has been an increase in student interest in digital and technology-related programs. technology between 2019 and 2022.

Give a hand

Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS) Managing Director Mohd Radzlan Jalaludin said the body is constantly updating itself and its marketing methods to attract international students.

EMGS, under the Ministry of Higher Education, has a technology strategy in place and this is part of the reason why Malaysia continues to see more students enrolling in HEIs here, a he added.

Among its ongoing initiatives to improve the overall student experience of studying here is the “Discover Education Malaysia” portal to help international and local students and their parents select the most suitable course and HEI ; the updated Student Application and Registration System (STARS) and the Multinational Academic Recognition System (MARS).

EMGS has also digitized the visa application process for international students to enter and study in Malaysia through the eVisa system, Mohd Radzlan said.

Aside from digital efforts, there are many other factors that attract international students to Malaysia, he added.

“Malaysia has a lot to offer as a progressive and modern country with a vibrant community and friendly people from diverse backgrounds.

“English is also widely spoken. We have many world-class education providers who are in the top world rankings, but it is so affordable to study here,” he said, explaining how these factors have contributed to the increase in the number of students. enrollment of international students this year, especially for masters and doctoral courses. (see graph) – compared to previous years.

Mohd Radzlan: EMGS has a technology strategy in place and that is part of the reason why Malaysia continues to see more students enrolling in its tertiary institutions.Mohd Radzlan: EMGS has a technology strategy in place and that is part of the reason why Malaysia continues to see more students enrolling in its tertiary institutions.

Mohd Radzlan said the number of applications for master’s courses increased by almost 50% while doctoral programs saw an increase of almost 13% compared to the same period in 2021.

The latest figures show that international students continue to view Malaysia as a top location for high-quality study abroad, he said.

The government is also working to attract more students to our shores, said Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Dr Noraini Ahmad.

She said the ministry had held discussions with various agencies, including the Immigration Department, the Interior Ministry and the National Security Council (MKN).

“These discussions are to facilitate the admission of international students in accordance with our standard operating procedure (SOP).

“The SOP for the admission of international students to Malaysia was completed in October last year and it is constantly updated, taking into account the latest regulations and instructions from the government,” she told parliament. in March.

More recently, she said that although there has been a slight drop in the number of international applications due to the pandemic, there has been a positive increase of 32% in 2021.

Kuala Lumpur was ranked second in the 2018 and 2019 editions of the QS Top Universities ‘Most Affordable City for Students’,” she said in June. The city received another boost when it was ranked 28th in the world and sixth in Asia in the recent QS Best Student Cities 2023 ranking.

Retain students

As Malaysia strives to be a regional education hub for international students, the “push factors” that lead our young people to opt for education abroad need to be studied and addressed at the level nationally, Parmjit said.

“Despite the rising costs of studying abroad and the weak ringgit, students who have a strong desire to study abroad and can afford to do so will still go abroad no matter what. which is made to try to hold them back.

“Higher costs may not affect them, as students going abroad have traditionally been in the highest income bracket.

“However, other factors such as health and safety concerns when traveling abroad may have led some students to decide to stay in the country and at least begin their studies at local private universities.

“If we can identify the reasons why they want to leave, we can retain more students and energize our higher education sector.

”Get an international education locally

Branch campuses of overseas universities are seeing more and more students choosing to study in Malaysia

“Demand from international students is improving based on the volume of inquiries from direct and indirect channels. Both international and local students were eagerly waiting to return to campus to witness the face-to-face teaching, which began in June This is also increasingly important to enhance the student experience with opportunities to capitalize on a vibrant campus environment with many student-focused activities on offer at the University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNM). partners who send students abroad shared that demand is growing from 2019 figures. We continue to focus on what matters to students, which is providing high-quality teaching and learning. quality, providing them with opportunities for personal development outside the classroom through our range of clubs and societies, and ensuring they live a wonderful residential experience on our 125-acre campuses. It is equally important to ensure that our graduates continue to be highly employable. We offer a rich erience student experience. There are many opportunities for students to participate in sports-related competitions and activities, including events that benefit from international collaboration through our campuses in the UK and China, as well as partner universities. Additionally, students have mobility opportunities within our network of Universitas21 partner universities and the University of Nottingham in the UK and China.”

Director of Student Recruitment and Marketing at UNM, Jagdish Singh Malhi

“Before the pandemic, Monash had already embraced the use of educational technologies. Our students and staff already had digital skills. This has put us in a better position to move towards online learning and teaching due to closures. Many institutions have seen the impact on their student numbers as we have. However, at Monash the impact on student numbers has not been as dramatic and we believe that having being ahead of the game with the use of technology in learning and teaching has played an important role in this to grow in line with our target annual projections The cost of living and studying in Malaysia is more affordable than studying in other universities in western countries.Malaysia is well located for students from other parts of South East Asia to travel and Students can study and earn an international level degree. rnational of a global university while remaining in the region. sity Malaysia offers a culturally rich environment. The experiences here offer students the opportunity to develop a global vision, highly sought after by employers, especially multinational companies. We strive to provide students with a variety of learning and teaching experiences, including practice-based, collaborative, interdisciplinary and work-based learning.”

Vice President of Monash University Malaysia (Education) Prof Beverley Webster

“Heriot-Watt University has a 200-year history with campuses in the UK, Dubai and Malaysia. Our curriculum is the same wherever you study. We offer a flexible campus transfer program through our Go program Global, which allows students to seamlessly transfer to other campuses to continue their studies, as long as their degree programs are offered at the campuses of their choice. With good planning, you can realize significant savings and even go back to malaysia if you don’t want to be abroad anymore. would like to help their children to study abroad, they are extremely mindful of the rising cost and unfavorable exchange rate with regards to the ringgit. encourages parents to plan carefully, explore overseas transfer options and take advantage of overseas campuses to keep their children’s dreams of studying abroad open. Studying in Malaysia for one year could bring significant savings of around RM150,000 in tuition fees and living costs. So if you spent two years in Malaysia, you would save a minimum of RM300,000.”

Professor Mushtak Al-Atabi, Provost and Chief Executive of Heriot-Watt University Malaysia (HWUM)

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