Regional Director Education Malaysia in Dubaii, Shushilil Azam Bin Shuib. Image Credit:

Dubai Yousra Rabbani, a Pakistani student, is very pleased with her decision to opt for a university in Malaysia to continue her higher education.

She is doing her graduation in Biotechnology Engineering at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) — a premier global university, where more than 26,000 students including 6,000 from around the world, are enrolled in more than 150 academic programmes.

“Though my parents and family initially opposed my decision to come to Malaysia, but now there are satisfied as I have grown as a better person while studying with students from different cultures and ethnic groups,” Rabbani told Gulf News during a visit to International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM).

The visit was part of the media trip organised by the Dubai office of Education Malaysia. The aim of the tour was to familiarise journalists about the thriving higher education facilities Malaysia has to offer for students from around the world. Expatriate students in the UAE can especially benefit from these universities as many are reluctant to go back to their home countries for various reasons.

The tour of a number of leading public and private universities has revealed that students in Malaysia can obtain top-class tertiary education for very affordable fees and in a safe environment.

Rabbani is one of more than 110,000 foreign students who are currently pursuing their higher education in Malaysia. She said that her parents in Karachi were initially sceptical about sending her alone to a university abroad. “But now they are more than happy because it took me quite a short period of time to adapt to the new lifestyle and social environment here mainly because Malaysians receive foreign students with an open heart and great tolerance,” she said.

It is because of such facts that Malaysia has been ranked the world’s 11th most preferred study destination by UNESCO and the country also accounts for 2 per cent of the international student population around the world.

Shushilil Azam Bin Shuib, Regional Director — Mena and South Asia, at the Education Malaysia in Dubai, said that their target is to double the number of students to 200,000 by the year 2020 from around the world.

He said that around 30,000 students from, Gulf, Middle East and North Africa are currently studying in Malaysia and the target is to increase this number to 60,000 students by 2020. “Education Malaysia Dubai alone sends more than 3,000 students to Malaysia every year for a wide range of programmes at various universities,” said Bin Shuib.

Apart from affordable tuition fees, another great reason to study in Malaysia is the relatively low cost of living. Kuala Lumpur has been ranked one of the least expensive cities in the world to live in.

Apart from their academic achievements students tend to learn a lot about global societies from students of different ethnicities. The plural society in this country comprises many races and faiths that speak a variety of mother tongues. Each of them continues to maintain its respective traditional culture in an atmosphere of mutual respect and tolerance that has ensured peace and stability for the nation through the decades.

Dr Yousuf Qadri, educational consultant at the Dubai-based Qadri International, said that more students from the UAE, Pakistan and Iran are going to Malaysia in order to attain quality education at a reasonable cost.

Number of international students has risen from 27,872 in 2002 to 47,320 in 2006 to104,088 in 2013.

The Malaysian government is committed to making the country a hub for world-class education.

From February 1, 2013, foreign students who wish to apply to a private institution of higher education must apply to study in Malaysia through Education Malaysia Global Services. (EMGS)

This one-stop application process allows the student to search and apply for multiple courses at multiple institutions all at the same time. Foreign students must only study at courses and institutions that are accredited and licensed — Education Malaysia only lists courses that meet these requirements — this makes it less burdensome for the prospective student.

As for student life, Malaysia is known for its incredible recreational and entertainment facilities. The major cities have great shopping venues that include retail centres and exotic markets, as well as exciting dining and entertainment options. Whether you are a laid back or a thrill seeking person or whatever your preference may be, there is something to suit anyone’s taste.

Working while studying

International students are only permitted to work with the approval of the Department of Immigration. Students working without permission will be in breach of their student pass and may have their pass revoked. If you are given permission you may only work part-time for a maximum of 20 hours per week during semester breaks or holidays of more than seven days while studying full-time in Malaysia.

For the past three decades, Malaysia has collaborated with reputable universities from the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada to develop its own internationally recognised education programmes.

Over the past 15 years, Malaysia has attracted top-notch universities worldwide into setting up branch campuses here. These universities offer undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes that are identical to their main campuses overseas.