OPENING SPEECH WORKSHOP ON STUDENT MOBILITY, JOINT DEGREE PROGRAMMES AND INSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT. Distinguished Guests, Ladies and gentlemen

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1 OPENING SPEECH WORKSHOP ON STUDENT MOBILITY, JOINT DEGREE PROGRAMMES AND INSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT Distinguished Guests, Ladies and gentlemen CROWNE PLAZA KUALA LUMPUR FEBRUARY 2009 Assalamualaikum w.b.h and a very good morning Mr. Vincent Piket, Head of European Commission Delegation to Malaysia Vice-Presidents, Vice-Chancellors of Higher Education Institutions First and foremost, I would like to congratulate the European Union for their effort to organize the workshop on student mobility, joint degree programs and institutional development. I also would like to welcome participants from China, Netherlands, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Germany, Vietnam, Bangladesh, India, Cambodia, France as well as Malaysian participants. Selamat datang and welcome to Malaysia. It has been a great pleasure for Malaysia to be chosen as the venue to hold this workshop.

2 Ladies and Gentlemen, The Ministry of Higher Education always gives strong supports to any intellectual events like this. Even Higher Education institutions in Malaysia also are keen and aggressively conduct programs related to student mobility, joint degree programs and institutional development. Malaysia is currently undergoing an education revolution through the launch of the National Higher Education Strategic Plan for The Strategic Plan is to ensure that the Malaysia Higher education rests on strong stable and effective foundation, which shall translate Malaysia vision into concrete steps for the future, with an emphasis on developing the quality of human and intellectual capital to support and realize the national aspiration of well-developed, prosperous and competitive nation. Among the trusts introduced are strengthening of higher education and intensifying internationalization which are deemed to act as catalyst in achieving our mission. Malaysia itself has taken aggressive steps to realise the objective including promoting programs in the fields of student mobility, joint degree programs and institutional development. Numberless of efforts on institution development were made. A lot more programs are developed to ensure that future human capital that is relevant to current market could be produced. Due to global economic situation, more programs like twinning program, joint degree program, split PhD programs which able students to study in Malaysia without spending so much money in the

3 developed countries, which are known of their high tuition fee and cost of living. Malaysia is proud that we are among the first in Asia to introduce the concept of twinning program. Currently we are working towards developing more education products that can further enhance the student mobility, exchange programme, study abroad and credit transfer. This effort will ensure that the products will be the mechanism to attract more foreign students to study in Malaysia and vice versa. Malaysia also has established Higher Education Leadership Academy or AKEPT solely to concentrate on institutional development and Malaysia Quality Assurance or MQA for quality assurance in higher education. Ladies and Gentleman, Until December 2008, our international program so far has attracted more than 70,000 international students. And of course, we gain the advantages along with the disadvantages. International students are not only representing direct income but the host country would also, indirectly benefit in diplomatic, trade and in tourism wise. Another benefit is that with international students around, an attempt to develop an international outlook among Malaysian students themselves began. Not only that, the contribution of research also benefits higher education system in Malaysia. International student programs have over the years encountered a number of criticisms, both

4 from the host countries and from the international students themselves. While some of the criticisms are well-founded, others are based on misperceptions or even racism. International student programs can be a politically sensitive issue in the host countries. Opponents of the programs fear that international students would take the limited university placements away from local students. Proponents of the programs counter this belief by arguing that the high fees paid by international students enable universities to maintain, or even increase, placements for local students. It is not unusual for international students to encounter language problems in the host countries. Despite the pre-admission language tests which might give the students a false sense of mastery over a foreign language students often find it difficult to understand the coursework, and some might feel that their lecturers are unhelpful in explaining the coursework to them. Academics, under pressure from cash-strapped university authorities to retain international students, sometimes make the courses easier, to the resentment of many local students. Of course there a lot more challenges to face and we understand that there is still long way to go but we are striving towards and hoping that Malaysia will be widely recognised as Education Hub of Asia.

5 Ladies and Gentlemen. With the attendance of experienced experts and different backgrounds of people from various countries, more excellence ideas and beneficial experiences could be shared in this workshop. It is hoped that more opportunities can be explored and more solutions of issuing related to the current situation could be found. To conclude, I wish to extend my congratulations to the organising committee for making this event a success and I hope you all will enjoy your stay in Malaysia. Thank you. I also would like to take this opportunity to thank European Union to invite me today and I wish that today s event will further enhance greater collaborations among all participant countries. I look forward to seeing positive outcome from today s event.

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