Recently, Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that international students enrolling in Malaysian universities will be required to study Bahasa Malaysia in an effort to raise Malaysia’s national language on the international stage.
According to the New Straits Times, Yaakob has asked the Ministry of Higher Education to make Malay a required subject for overseas students enrolled in local universities.
Yaakob hoped, in a separate study, that the national language would become the second language of Asean, noting that the Malay language is used by over 300 million people in Asean, making it the sixth most widely spoken language in the world.
Yaakob was quoted by Channel News Asia as noting that Bahasa Malaysia is already spoken in various Asean nations, including Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore, southern Thailand, southern Philippines, and portions of Cambodia, in addition to Malaysia.
During his recent visit to Cambodia, he was informed that 800,000 Malay-Chams spoke Malay and that 160,000 Malay speakers of Malay-Cham origin were in Vietnam. He noted that there is a small population of Malay speakers in Laos.
Thus, in the entirety of Asean, there are individuals who can speak Malay. Yaakob was cited as saying that there is no reason why Malay cannot become one of the official languages of ASEAN. He said that he would raise the issue with his Asean counterparts, especially countries with Malay-speaking populations.
The decision to force international students enrolling in Malaysian colleges to learn Bahasa Malaysia prompted criticism from several parties, including ministers and previous ministers in the country.
Lim Lip Eng, a member of parliament from Kepong, was quoted by Focus Malaysia as saying that all major decisions should be made in cooperation with local institutes of higher education.
“The ministry of higher education should conduct a thorough feasibility study on establishing Bahasa Malaysia as a prerequisite for international students,” he was reported as saying. How many local higher education institutions was the government in contact with before implementing this new requirement?
Malaysian Universities are Climbing in the University Rankings.
Malaysia is an expanding educational center. Numerous public and private institutions, as well as worldwide branch campuses, are located in this nation. These include Monash University, Nottingham University, Curtin University, Swinburne University of Technology, and Heriot-Watt University Malaysia.
The QS World University Rankings 2022 ranks Universiti Malaya, Universiti Putra Malaysia, and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia as the 65th, 143rd, and 144th best universities in Malaysia. The Times Higher Education (THE) Young University Rankings 2022 featured a total of 17 Malaysian universities, up from 12 in 2021.
Separately, a recent research indicated that overseas student applications for PhD programs at Malaysian universities have increased. Education Malaysia Services (EMGS) reported 11,161 overseas candidates for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in public and commercial institutions in 2021. The applicant numbers have nearly increased from 2020, when only 6,348 applications were received.
In recent years, Malaysia has become the preferred destination for overseas students seeking higher education, according to EMGS. “It is intriguing to learn that a significant number of international students are pursuing PhDs in Malaysia at now.”
Previously, Yaakob declared that Malaysia’s borders would reopen to international travelers on April 1, 2022. Those who are fully immunized will not be required to enter quarantine. Travelers are required to undergo an RT-PCR test two days before to their flight and a quick test (RTK) upon arrival in Malaysia.