Malaysia should be proud for being the 11th most sought after country for tertiary education among international students, and that the country now accounts for two per cent of the international student population around the world (here).
Wow! We are always striving to be among the world's best. It's a good effort.
However, we have forgotten that as host to this students, perhaps Malaysia is now among the world's most 'troubled' by them, especially those from the African nations. As at June 2011, the number of international students in Malaysia has exceeded 90,000 people and the Higher Education Ministry targets 200,000 international students by 2020.
Ok. We allow them to study here. Our private universities and colleges also offer among the best education packages as compared to other developed and developing nations.
But our government only issues licenses to this private education centers. As long as they meet all the required procedures, they will get the license to operate. And so, they put up advertisement locally and abroad to lure foreign students to enroll. They also engaged runners who reap millions of ringgit for bringing them in by arranging all necessary documents i.e student visa and accommodation.
Owners and operators of these colleges are happy enough to collect whatever fees imposed on the students. As long as they pay their monthly or annual fees, it does not matter whether they attend classes of not.
What matters most is money. The private universities and colleges need plenty of money to keep operate. Of course, they can't afford to run on losses. And so, money is everything to them.
If the students fail to attend their classes, they will not pass their examination. If they fail, they will have to repeat their subjects. And to repeat, it incurs extra charges. The colleges would be very happy to earn that 'extra income from failures'.
Some foreign students come from rich and wealthy family. Some just have the money to study and live in Malaysia for that stipulated period. In fact, some of them didn't have any intention to study but to do something else, something daring and to some extent breach our laws.
We have read news about many foreign students, especially the Africans, been involved in illegal activities namely drug, vice and gangsterism. We also have a number of them in Kamunting under the ISA.
I remember sometimes in May 2008, a group of African students were involved in gang fights in Mantin and the police had a grueling time to control them (picture).
A group of African students also attacked TV3 crew members in Taman Connaught, Cheras a few years ago when the journalists were 'spying' on their 'Little Africa' colony there.
So, how many more foreign students, notably from Africa are allowed in? Under the 6P program, does anybody know how many illegal Africans are also seeking legalisation but now allowed (as no African nations are on the list)? So, what will happen to them when our 'pemutihan' starts immediately after Hari Raya.
To the Higher Education Ministry, what have you done to monitor the private universities and colleges in ensuring that the students awarded with the 'student visa' really study and not doing anything else?
Are we that proud for being among the best?