Kuala Lumpur, 22 May 2020 – The pandemic has transformed the education sector with universities currently holding virtual tours instead of open days in campus. Despite reopening certain sectors of the economy, universities and schools will stay close or partially open until the situation improves in the country. This is a dramatic shift to virtual information sessions and a new challenge for foreign students recruitment. In March 2019, Malaysia was hosting up 127,583 international students –70% at private higher education institutions.
“Being miles apart, the students are anxious to know about the situation in the country and the travel restriction. Fears of Covid-19 is substantially altering the higher education enrollment landscape,” said Mohanad Mudhafer, from Subul Education Consultancy.
Majority of students want to enquire on the new intake schedules, the arrangements of classes, and visa regulations. There are students who have enrolled but deferred their semester due to the CMCO. Besides, some students seek clarity on pursuing online courses if the university accepts their application.
Mohanad said the agency spends time in sharing information with the students vide online platforms, addressing their concerns and queries. “The reality is that life will go on after COVID-19, but when we look back at its impact on higher education, we’re going to see that this was the genesis of a major shift in how we recruit students,” he added.
The agency will facilitate any submission of documents about deferment at the universities and Immigration Department when the government lifts the CMCO. The decision to extend lies solely at the discretion of the Immigration Department and made when the CMCO ends. Malaysia ranks as the 11th largest exporter of education in the world, due to its conducive learning environment and stable socio-economic development. As such, numerous application from foreign students is still being received and processed for submission.
“It is important to keep the students abreast of the situation in the country to mitigate their fear. While most classes are being conducted via Zoom and Skype, the foreign students require valid entry requirements prior to enrolling in classes,” added Mohanad.
With the number of Covid-19 cases improving, there is light at the end of the tunnel. However it requires extensive planning and preparation. “In the event, the travel ban is lifted, the students will have to be brought in gradually subject to a stringent SOP,” explained Mohanad.
The students will have to undergo the screening process at the airports and the usual medical screening when they arrive.
Due to the uncertainity in travel restrictions worldwide, virtual recruitment has become critical. Previously, the Government intended to increase the KPI of 200,000 students intake by 2020. Hence, the agency believes that even in a world of social isolation and quarantines, it is vital to partner with the universities to better reach and serve prospective students. Malaysia’s success in handling Covid-19 and the robust healthcare system have in fact boosted the confidence among the foreign students. The efforts taken by the nation to flatten the curve will increase the country’s position as a preferred choice for higher education.