Private universities expect increase in foreign students’ intake

The loosening of Covid SOPs and the increased percentage of physical classes is driving the surge


LOCAL private universities are expecting a surge in demand on foreign students’ intake in line with Malaysia’s international border reopening.

According to University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNM) student recruitment and marketing director Jagdish Singh, he has observed a year-on-year uptrend on the number of visa applications based on the Education Malaysia Global Services.

The university has also seen improving demand from international students based on the volume of enquiries from direct and indirect channels.

“Other factors that will have a positive impact on international student enrolment include the loosening of Malaysia’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) (for international students arriving to the country and social activities) and the increased percentage of face-to-face teaching and learning.

“We target to register double digit growth, building on the strong demand we saw in 2019, before the pandemic hit,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

UNM also hopes to gain even more foreign students this year to continue growing its global community on campus, and offer both students and academics a global community exposure.

Jagdish expects more students from countries like China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Dubai, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Egypt while their most popular programmes are science and engineering, computer science with artificial intelligence, business and psychology.

He believes that these courses are fitting with Malaysia’s agenda to promote and facilitate more science, technology, engineering and mathematics education to prepare young talents for the competitive workforce.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, UNM’s international enrolment was not affected and remained fairly stable last year.

“At the start of the pandemic, in 2020, we found that many students were taking a wait and see approach to furthering their education, but after almost two years of the pandemic, students have mostly decided that their education must continue and are happy to return to university, both virtually and face-to-face.

“For Malaysia, the biggest reason is its value for money and the affordability cost of living. Even more, students are able to pick from a wide range of courses from both public and private institutions, all with differing fee structures,” Jagdish added.

Being Malaysia’s first UK university, UNM is popular among foreign students as they are able to gain a global educational experience and certificate without bearing expensive tuition fees.

Moreover, Monash University Malaysia VP (education) Prof Beverley Webster remains optimistic on the intake of international students although they have not seen too much of a negative impact on their enrolments.

“We have maintained our commitment to providing a quality Monash education during the pandemic when students were unable to travel.

“Enrolled students have been able to continue their Monash education and new students have been able to commence their Monash education. Given that, students are excited to be in Malaysia and having the opportunity to be on campus,” she told TMR.

The university emphasises on international students’ enrolment since it adds global vibrancy to the student and staff experience as well as enriching students with experiences and outlooks from different parts of the world.

Most of Monash’s international students hail from Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Japan but they are also observing an increase of intakes from China.

Unfortunately, China still maintains its travel restrictions and until these circumstances are resolved, they will continue to offer some online alternatives.

“Before the pandemic, Monash had already embraced the use of educational technologies and Monash’s students and staff were already digitally skilled.

“This places Monash in Malaysia in a better position to pivot to online learning and teaching due to the lockdowns,” Webster added.

During the pandemic, he did not observe a large change in student intake as the use of technologies in learning and teaching has played an important role in it.

Monash also expects its student intake to increase according to their yearly target projections.

Since universities in Malaysia offer a culturally rich environment, it brings a global outlook towards students which is much sought after by employers, especially multinational companies.

“Malaysia is well located for students from other South-East Asian regions to be able to travel back and forth to their homes without long distances.

“So, students can study and get an internationally ranked degree from a global university while remaining in the region,” she said.