by Ng Chee Kar, Neoh Shi Ling, Ooi Huey Ying
Tertiary level education is an utmost importance to students nowadays. In order to have a bright future, a good career, a student must at least to have a degree. Thus shows how tertiary level act as the foundation for a person’s career. However, many students have noticed the flaw of the education system in their own country, or just find it not suitable for them, hence they seek their tertiary level education at some other country. Easy as it may seems but it is not, the process of getting admitted may not be just as simple as submitting a form but rather it is a tedious process. Aside from the fundamental application process, a student that wants to study abroad must passed a certain level of English test and also not to mention the tedious process of applying a student visa. Those are just the prelude for studying abroad, a student have to suffer with financial restriction and also separation from their family when they pursue their education at some other country. However, those international that come to Malaysia voiced out their regrets due to the fail of expectation in taking their tertiary level education in Malaysia.
Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM), which was officially established on 16 February 1984, is the sixth Malaysian public university. It is the only university that was set up to specialise solely in management education from the very beginning of its establishment. To emblazon the name of UUM in the annals of academic excellence as an Eminent Management University and as a Research University in the Social Sciences, a UUM Transformation Plan was launched by the Vice-Chancellor of UUM, Professor Dato’ Dr. Mohamed Mustafa Ishak, in conjunction with his 2011 New Year’s Message on 1st January 2011 at the Mua’adzam Shah Hall. Being an Eminent Management University, UUM took up students from all around the world, China, Indonesia, and Jordan, even Iraq but sadly to say, we have conducted interview with the international students in UUM and most of them voice out their disappointment.
Among the four international students that we have interviewed, all four of them voice out the bias element in UUM’s administration and educational system. In terms of administration, they and also their friends had experience in several occasion that the administrator or clerk in the office prioritize local student more than international student for example, letting them cut queues. Furthermore, the administrator and clerk have very low English proficiency that they can communicate with the international students, on some occasion that the administrator got fed up and asked the international students to go back and find a translator.
In the case of education, the international students find it unfair for the lecturer to be teach in Malay rather in English even though in the add drop system stated that the class will be conduct in English mainly because the lecturer is not comfortable teach in English and the ratio of local students is greater than international students. They feels that the class must be conduct in English as promised when they add the subject despite the lecturers English proficiency or the number of international student in class. It is very contradict as one of the requirements for getting enrolled in UUM is to score at least 5.5 in International English Language Test (IELTS) but the class is not conducted in English. So what is the point for them to work so hard in improving their English if they are not using it in UUM?
To add on, the international students also complained about how the University prioritize local students more than the international students during crisis. For example during the flood crisis happened in UUM November 2010. The University coordinate the local students in getting them back to their respective hometown but the university did not bother to help the international students, as most of them need to reschedule their plane ticket that cost them a fortune.
One may wonder, are there not any group or department in the university handles the well being of the international students? We came across an International Student Society and interviewed the president. “ The society does not have the power to go against the University authority, what we can do is just organize events for the international students and provide guidance and counselling if they faced any problem” said Darius, the president of International Student Society, explaining to us the function of the society.
This issue is very serious as it can affect the image of UUM, as well as causes a decrease in number of international students enrolled if steps are not taken to target this issue. As such, we have come up with a few suggestions in hope to elevate this issue. First we suggest a formation of a International Student Council that have equal power as the Student Representative Council (MPP) to protect the rights of the international students.
We also suggest conducting a training session with the clerk and administrator in UUM to increase their English proficiency as to ease communication with the international students furthermore; they can improve their English and get a better-paid job. Aside from that, the dean should evaluate the proficiency to the lecturers an ensure that they follow the rules that class must be teach in English if it is stated in the add drop system.
International students are like any other local students, doing their best to pursue for a better quality education but the difference is that they sacrifice more compared to the local student. They spent more for the fees, separate from their family and friends, and some don’t even go back during the holidays because of the expansive plane ticket and also not to mention being in a country that practice different culture and speak different language. We should congratulate their courage and make them feel at home instead of isolating them and treating them as a second-class citizen.