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Malaysian Education comes with values attached – official

By Muin Abdul Majid, NNN-Bernama,

Dubai : The motto, ‘World-class Degrees. Truly Asian Values’, being touted by Malaysia’s Higher Education Ministry encapsulates what the country has to offer to prospective foreign students, according to a ministry official.

Its education marketing division director, Dr Syed Alwee Alsagoff, said they were no mere words as Malaysia was one of 13 signatory countries worldwide to have an international cross-recognition agreement for professional degrees under the ‘Washington Accord’.

“With Malaysia being in the Washington Accord, people don’t have to question anymore about the quality of our degrees, because we’re internationally vetted,” he told Bernama during a recent education fair here participated by 15 Malaysian universities under the umbrella of the ministry.

According to Dr Syed Alwee, among the 13 countries, Malaysia by far, offered the most competitively-priced quality education for international students.

“But I don’t want to talk about price too much because we’d rather talk about the values and unique learning environment that we have to offer,” he said.

The official said those who opted to study in Malaysia would find, among others, heartwarming hospitality, serenity and security during their stay in the Southeast Asian nation of 27 million.

The ministry reckoned that people from over 100 countries who had studied in Malaysia were now working in all parts of the world as top professionals, industry captains, senior academics and even ministers.

And the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) has recognised Malaysia as an upcoming favourite of international university education among students.

Dr Syed Alwee said the challenge for Malaysian education purveyors in the Middle East was growing competition from other countries, including those which had opened up branch campuses in the region.

He said: “Places like Dubai and Bahrain have opened their doors to foreign universities. So, we’d need to intensify our efforts and focus on our strengths.

“We can’t trumpet cheap education because people in this region don’t seem to mind too much about that. So, we really need to re-look at our marketing (strategies) and beat them (other foreign universities) at the game.”

The Malaysian pavilion was abuzz with activity during the Dubai fair, with students, as well as parents, visiting the booth strategically located in one of the halls of the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Dubai-based Malaysia Education Promotion Centre (MEPC) regional director for Middle East and North Africa, Shushilil Azam Shuib, said the Malaysian pavilion was arranged according to subject clusters, rather than little corners for participating universities.

Among them were architecture, engineering, Islamic studies, business, finance, information communication technology and other popular fields.

Shushilil Azam said university representatives present had to be well-versed in the study fields on offer at their own institutions, channelling prospective students to other universities, if needed.

“It works like a fishing net in that we’re able to attract as many students as possible, to study at our universities,” he explained.

He said the ministry had been bold in undertaking the endeavour which saw a large number of Malaysian universities under one roof during a roadshow overseas.

Besides Dubai, the Malaysian education team also went to Bahrain and Jordan.

Malaysian Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Yahaya Abdul Jabar lauded ongoing efforts by the ministry to woo Middle Eastern students to Malaysia.

This, he said, was in line with plans to turn Malaysia into a regional education hub.

MEPC Dubai is targeting to have 25,000 students from the Middle East by the end of this year.