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11 - The Transformation and Internationalization of Higher Education: The Malaysian Experience

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 October 2015

Khong Kim Hoong
Affiliation:
HELP University College
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Summary

INTRODUCTION

There is no doubt that very significant changes have taken place in the higher education landscape in Malaysia over the past 30 years. Where only government-established institutions were once allowed, a myriad of private institutions now offers a wide range of diplomas and degrees up to the doctoral level. Some of these institutions confer their own degrees, while others offer academic qualifications from foreign universities. At present, as many students are pursuing higher education in private institutions as in public institutions. An elitist system has been discarded with the rapid democratization of the tertiary education sector. Higher education has also been transformed from a Malaysian-based system into an open international system. The liberal policies that have been put in place have helped bring about this revolution in higher education.

This chapter will focus on the changing face of higher education in Malaysia – the growth of the private sector together with the infusion of foreign university programs and the development of Malaysia as an international hub for higher education. Twinning arrangements with foreign universities and the franchising of entire degrees to Malaysian colleges are discussed in section 11.2. Section 11.3 describes the changing attitude of the government towards private higher education, the upgrading of private colleges into degree-conferring institutions and the policy to allow foreign universities to establish branch campuses in Malaysia. It also looks at the policy to make Malaysia a hub for international education through the recruitment of foreign students. To increase the attractiveness of their programs to foreign students in particular, some private institutions now offer dual or joint degrees in association with reputable foreign universities.

The chapter also highlights some of the challenges accompanying the transformation and internationalization of higher education. It describes the regulatory environment for the private higher education sector (section 11.4), and the steps that have been taken to ensure quality (section 11.5). It then assesses the success of the strategy to make Malaysia a hub for international education, in the context of both inflows and outflows of students (section 11.6).

How does the Malaysian experience compare with that of neighbouring countries? Singapore has developed a thriving private higher education sector, quite similar in scope to that of Malaysia, working with some of the same foreign universities.

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Publisher: ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute
Print publication year: 2013

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