07/07/2023 09:29 AM
Opinions on topical issues from thought leaders, columnists and editors.

By: Dr Fauziah Hassan

The Minister of Higher Education in Malaysia emphasises the importance of establishing a credible education system. One of the ways to achieve this is by promoting the participation of international students who choose to pursue their studies in the available academic programmes in Malaysia. Additionally, diverse cultural exchange programmes, mobility initiatives, research collaborations, and other endeavours contribute significantly to building trust in Malaysia and enhancing its global reputation.

Therefore, it is crucial to prioritise the establishment of inclusive campus communities within educational institutions. These communities create welcoming and supportive environments that cater to the needs and well-being of international students. The focus is on fostering a sense of belonging, respect, and inclusion for students from diverse cultural backgrounds. In regard to attracting more international students, factors such as language barriers, cultural adjustment, social integration, and access to resources and support services must be addressed.

By promoting inclusivity, universities can create an environment where international students feel valued, respected, and empowered to participate fully in academic, social, and cultural activities. It involves celebrating diversity, encouraging intercultural interactions, and providing resources such as mentorship programmes, counselling services, and cultural awareness initiatives. This is to ensure that international students have equitable access to opportunities, feel supported in their educational journey, and have the opportunity to thrive academically, socially, and personally within the campus community.

Diverse, inclusive learning environment

As a higher education provider, it is indeed the responsibility to create a diverse and inclusive learning environment that promotes interaction between international students and local students. This can be achieved through various means, such as engaging students in group projects, encouraging participation in extracurricular activities, and facilitating student club involvement. These initiatives play a crucial role in fostering cross-cultural understanding, collaboration, and the development of a global mindset among students.

In addition to creating a diverse and inclusive learning environment, another effective strategy is to provide experiential learning opportunities through research projects and community engagement programmes. These hands-on experiences offer students the chance to apply their knowledge in practical settings, which can greatly enhance critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and practical knowledge. By engaging in research projects and community activities, students gain valuable real-world experience, develop a deeper understanding of their field of study, and acquire the skills necessary to tackle complex challenges. Indeed, for international students, programmes like student exchanges and intercultural activities are crucial.

International students may face difficulties in forming connections with local students or building social networks. Universities can foster social integration by organising events, clubs, and activities that encourage interaction and collaboration among students from different cultural backgrounds. Peer mentoring programmes, buddy systems, and inclusive student organisations can also provide a support network and help international students feel more connected. The goal is to create an environment where international students can fully immerse themselves in the Malaysian experience and feel a strong sense of attachment to their educational institution and the country as a whole. By actively engaging in these activities, international students can develop a sense of belonging and create meaningful connections with the local community, enhancing their overall experience in Malaysia.

Mentorship programmes

On top of that, providing special treatment and support for international students is crucial. Establishing mentorship programmes can play a significant role in guiding and supporting them throughout their academic journey, helping them excel in both their studies and personal development. Additionally, it’s essential to offer career development support to international students, particularly after they complete their studies. Assisting them in navigating career opportunities and providing guidance on resume building, interview skills, and networking can greatly contribute to their professional growth and successful transition into the workforce.

By implementing these strategies, the Malaysian education system can create a nurturing and enriching environment for international students. This approach not only fosters their intellectual growth but also promotes a good level of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Ultimately, it ensures that international students have a comprehensive educational experience in Malaysia and are well prepared for their future endeavours.

Furthermore, it is important for universities to provide openness in order to offer exposure and experiences to international students in regard to allowing them to engage with diverse perspectives and ways of thinking while studying in Malaysia.

By embracing this diversity, international students can develop a stronger belief in the Malaysian education system and its ability to provide them with a valuable and transformative learning experience.


Dr Fauziah Hassan is Director of the USIM ‘Alamiyyah (International Centre) at Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM).

(The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy or position of BERNAMA)