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More Malaysians are studying locally instead of abroad, and for good reasons, say experts

by on April 22, 2024 | Top Stories

More Malaysians are studying locally instead of abroad, and for good reasons, say experts -

AS the cost of studying abroad becomes increasingly prohibitive, more local students are considering completing their education within Malaysia.

However, this shift is not merely a compromise; experts say Malaysia has established itself as a promising contender in tertiary education, particularly by offering affordable yet high-quality programmes in the Asian region with its universities gaining recognition in global varsity rankings.

In the latest Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings by Subject 2024 –released on April 10 – the country charted a 22% improvement rate. Among the country’s ranked programmes, 84 improved and 38 were ranked for the first time.

According to National Association of Private Educational Institutions (Napei) secretary-general Dr Teh Choon Jin, there has been a steady increase in the enrolment of local students in Malaysia in fields such as engineering, computer science, information technology (IT), accounting and finance.

“These fields align with the nation’s economic priority of becoming a high-technology hub, as outlined in initiatives like the New Industrial Master Plan 2030,” he told StarEdu, adding that sectors such as e-commerce, healthcare, biotechnology, tourism and hospitality are also gaining traction.

He also noted Malaysian universities’ emphasis on cultivating industry-relevant skills and practical experience, significantly boosting students’ job prospects upon graduation.

“Many local institutions integrate internship programmes into their syllabi, providing students with real-world work experience and facilitating a smooth transition into the workforce.

“While completing internships in local companies, Malaysian students can adapt to the Malaysian work culture, making their transition into the working world smoother upon graduation,” he said.

Amid the devaluation of the Malaysian ringgit, he said Malaysian students can find reassurance in the fact that choosing to pursue their education locally does not diminish their opportunities for personal and professional growth.

“The quality of education offered by Malaysian institutions is strong, meeting rigorous international standards and ensuring students are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to compete globally.

“Notably, these institutions hold accreditations, rankings and reputations that rival those of universities abroad,” he said.

Looking ahead, Teh said projections indicate continued growth in careers in technology, digitalisation and innovation over the next three years.

“The pervasive adoption of technology is reshaping the job landscape, leading to the emergence of new roles while rendering others obsolete.

“However, there is growing recognition of the value of distinctly human traits in the workforce. Thus, we anticipate growth in job roles emphasising skills such as interpersonal communication, empathy, creativity and problem-solving.

“These roles span diverse sectors, including customer service, sales and marketing, hospitality, culinary arts and healthcare,” he said.

STEAM-ing demand

Agreeing, University of Reading Malaysia provost and chief executive officer Prof Wing Lam said certain vital workplace skills such as cooperation, creativity and adaptability remain beyond the reach of computers.

This, he said, is where fields in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) are advantageous, and students who choose to pursue any of these disciplines locally see it too.

“Graduates who can combine their technical skills with collaborative, leadership, creative problem-solving and customer-facing skills will be highly sought after in the job market,” he said, adding that those with this ability are the ones that would rise up the management ranks the fastest.

He also said taking up courses related to the arts, such as communications, digital media, marketing and advertising, can develop skills which are aligned with the needs of companies operating in a digital economy.

The fields of business, finance and accounting, he said, remain perennially popular among Malaysians due to excellent employability, strong industry demand for professionals in audit and tax, and ample opportunities to work abroad.

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