Malaysia strives to be a global educational centre.

The government has set a lofty goal of luring 250,000 foreign students by 2025, and Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS) has divided its marketing department into regions in order to establish distinct tactics for different nations.

The Covid-19 epidemic, on the other hand, has shone a focus on the nation’s higher education institutions’ ability to meet the academic demands and wellbeing of their international students.

The qualitative research “The impact of the Covid-19 epidemic on foreign students’ experiences in Malaysia,” done by Universiti Malaya (UM) and Xiamen University Malaysia, looked at the negative consequences of the pandemic on their international students.

The study discovered that international students are concerned about academic, administrative, social, economical, and emotional issues they are encountering as a result of the epidemic.

“It is critical to address these difficulties and concerns. This maintains the long-term viability of Malaysian institutions as a desirable destination for overseas students.

“International students are an important element of Malaysia’s higher education community.

“They are important drivers of the country’s knowledge-based economy and contribute significantly to income production.”

“In light of the study’s findings, the research recommends several options for changing the existing situation,” the research report stated.

From October 2020 to January 2021, UM Faculty of Languages and Linguistics deputy dean (postgraduate studies) Dr Sheena Kaur and her colleague senior lecturer Dr Ali Jalalian Daghigh, as well as Xiamen University Malaysia assistant professor Dr Prasana Rosaline Fernandez, conducted online focus group interviews for the research.

In the study, which was financed by the UM Covid-19 Related Special Research Grant, a total of 28 students were interviewed.

Uncertainty about their future is one of the main concerns of overseas students.

According to the authors, Malaysia’s aim on luring foreign students as major drivers of the higher education sector and internationalisation prompted researchers to investigate international students’ experiences during the Covid-19 outbreak.

However, the authors acknowledged that there is a paucity of research on international students’ experiences in Malaysia.

“Only one research on the influence of Covid-19 on local students has been conducted, and it focused on the reasons of the students’ psychological difficulties as a result of Covid-19.

“The findings revealed that budgetary restrictions, online learning access, academic achievement uncertainty, and future employment possibilities are some of the most common stresses.

“As a result, the current study addresses this gap and, more significantly, proposes solutions to solve the issues faced by foreign students through a bottom-up approach,” they stated.

Universities must create a safe and inviting atmosphere, as well as care after the health, safety, and well-being of foreign students, according to the authors, in order to support the welfare of international students. ( Original article published in Thestar)

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